It can be hard for CEOs, particularly in small to medium sized businesses, to tend to the needs of all their departments sufficiently. Just as each child may require a different parenting style, each employee and each team needs different things from the workplace in order to succeed at their highest potential.
Last week we introduced the idea that sometimes a team can fall through the cracks when it comes to getting the attention they need from leadership. This often becomes apparent when making changes, communicating relevant information to them, and providing them with the resources they need. Such favoritism can have a devastating impact on the overall health of a company.
If you are a leader, be it the CEO, a manager, or a team lead, we encourage you to proactively assess if this is happening on your watch. Here are some steps you can take to make sure everyone is getting a fair shake.
Analyze your time.
When we first start working with CEOs we will often have them do an analysis of their time. It helps them see if they are doing the things that only CEOs can do, such as making strategic plans, or if they are stuck in the weeds on tasks that don’t leverage their strengths and authority, like running payroll. Similarly, by recording the amount of attention you give to each department in a day over a period of days, you can get some insight about which departments may be slipping under your radar.
Ask your staff what they need and how they feel about where they fit into the broader organization. This doesn’t have to take a long time. Just a few questions can highlight some gaps that exist. It will also help you learn about cultural aspects of the workplace from the employees’ point of view. With this information you can proactively address problems rather than waiting for them to become apparent in the midst of a crisis. If a formal survey seems like too much right now, make it a point to meet with your department heads and ask, “What do you need from me?”
Own your biases.
We all have aspects of our jobs that are more pleasurable than others and there will always be employees that we connect with more easily than others. That’s just part of being human. Having awareness of those preferences is the first step in changing how your inherent biases may influence your behavior.
Create systems that routinize checking in with each department.
Solid processes can compensate for gaps created by our biases. Having regularly scheduled meetings with each department head ensures that each area of the company stays top of mind. It also helps you build relationships with those employees which will go a long way toward understanding what they need from you.
Distinguish between equality and equity.
Treating every department equally means that each team gets the exact same amount of time and energy from leadership regardless of their needs or special circumstances. Equity, however, means each team gets whatever they need to succeed based on their unique situation. It’s ok to give more to those who need more at any given point in time. You just don’t want this to happen at the expense of overlooking the needs of others.
If you are struggling with how to manage your time as a leader, reach out to us. We’d love to see how we can help.
Image credit: Amy Hirschi