Managers often tell me they just don’t have the time to regularly and consistently interact with their staff. While there may certainly be some truth to this, I often wonder if it’s an excuse made by those who are somewhat uncomfortable with the softer side of communication and engagement. Either way, what I do know is there’s a simple method of achieving consistent and effective communication and engagement on a daily basis and it’s called Planned Spontaneity. While an oxymoron in words…an extremely valuable tool in practice.
What is Planned Spontaneity?
Planned Spontaneity is a method of preparing yourself to interact with staff, recognize behaviours and engage with individual team members in a somewhat spontaneous manner.
Here’s how it works
Begin by considering one or two of your staff or team members (at the most) and plan for an opportunity to stop by their workstation or job site to have a brief conversation. Then let the following process guide you on how to get the most out of the couple of minutes you have with them.
During your daily commute, start thinking about which staff members you want to connect with. It’s a great way to spend this time. Once you’ve chosen the staff members, decide what behaviour you want to recognize them for or if it’s staff members you haven’t spent much time with, think about two or three topics you could explore with them. For instance, you could ask about their children, the activities they’re involved in or a trip they recently took. The list is virtually endless and the more you know about an individual, the more there is to discuss.
If behaviour change is your motive, simply keep a subtle eye on the person throughout the day and when you see them do something aligned with a new strategy or process (or whatever behaviour you want to recognize), take two minutes to wander by and say thanks. Remember be specific about what you are recognizing and make the link back to the strategy or process.
If your focus is engagement, take the time to wander over and strike up a conversation. If the individual is heading off to grab a coffee, consider joining them. Even if it’s for a moment at the coffee pot, every minute counts if used right.
Keep a log book or file handy to track key conversation points and add to your knowledge about the staff members you interacted with. It will come in handy the next time you focus on them or happen to be interacting with them.
Then repeat this process the next day with one or two other staff members. The short-term and cumulative impact is incredibly powerful and after even a few weeks of planned spontaneity, you’ll be well on your way to improved engagement and productivity.