What is presence and why is it so important in today’s business? Furthermore, why is it so lacking in today’s leadership? When we talk about Presence, we are talking about the ability to create the feeling that you are “there”. You are with your team, not necessarily being the scary psycho-killer hovering over the shoulder type of manager; rather the type of manager that is offering a support structure that allows for communicative and proactive management.
When you think Corporate America, what comes to mind? We have discussed this before. Cubicles, isolation, and who is the boss again? What is there name? There is no real presence except for the supervisor who only pops in to give you more work to do one hour before quitting time. Oh, and by the way, it’s due that night.
In the type of leadership structure that fosters engagement, creativity, compassion, and loyalty, presence should be torn down walls and a leader who knows your name.
So how do we create presence and in what ways can we help foster growth within our teams?
- Create Presence even if you aren’t Available
This can seem tricky and perhaps counter-intuitive. How can you be present without being available to be present? Pretty simple. You create a work culture that fosters open lines of communication that promotes honest feedback.
No one can be available 24/7. We are all busy. We all have work to do. But if you have open communication on your team, your team is going to feel like you have an open door policy, even if that door isn’t always able to be open. Remind your team often, especially your leadership team, that you are there for them. You want them to be better, you want them to grow, and you want them to trickle that growth down. If your leadership team feels like they can come to you with anything, that will naturally and organically trickle down to the rest of your team. Those who feel like they can have transparent and honest feedback are going to benefit you more and bring up things you need to know about rather than hold it in. They will also feel more valued and appreciated because they know that their feedback matters.
2. Check-In Daily
Again, we all have work to do. We can’t do 30 minute team meetings every day with all of our teams, plus our clients, plus marketing plus whatever else. Sometimes even 10 minute lunch breaks aren’t possible! But what we can do is take the value of the 2-minute check-in. If you are in person, how long does it take for you to pop by your teams desk, see how they are doing and see if they need anything urgent? 30 seconds. Tops.
Have a large team? Check in with your staff heads and make sure they are making the rounds. However, still make it a point to check in with your actual team periodically. This may mean you check in with 5 people per day for 2 minutes. It’s important that they know you care despite the size of your team and that those over them care as well.
Work remote? Even easier. Check in with your main area of communication. Say “Good Morning”. Tell them a joke you heard. Ask if anyone has seen that latest awesome movie and chat about it. Take a moment to remind them that you know they are human and hey! You’re human too! Value them.
3. Check-In with your Tasks
Have a report you have due? Told your client you would give them a financial summary that week? Interviewing people for the office? Don’t be afraid to check in with your client, team, or leadership on tasks dates and progress. This is going to help them realize your progress (or blockers to progress), remind of approaching deadlines, and heck, help them know you care. Now maybe you can’t or don’t have anyone above you to report to. Let your team know where some things are roadmapped at, especially areas of feedback that have been on the teams mind lately. If you don’t show progress on pain points, it’s going to ultimately demoralize your team. Even if you tell them that your progress is slow but has a slated due date, that’s better than the never-ending “soon”.
Presence is about the act of “being there”. Knowing your team, your client, your customers. Having open doors and even some vulnerability. Reminding others of your humanity. Is it easy? Actually yes on paper it is. Communication is probably in theory one of the easiest things we can do. Is it hard? You bet! It can also be the hardest because it does require effort and a conscious decision of engagement. However, engagement is key. So make sure you are conscious of your presence. No time like the Present!