You looked too busy so I didn’t bother you
I seem to have a consistent theme during many of last month’s coaching sessions – lots of conversations taking place about prioritisation and protecting time (so that you can get on with the stuff that really matters). The flip side of this is being approachable.
I have one client who is leading a great many strategy projects in her business, let’s call her Jane. This means that quite a few managers are indirectly reporting to Jane regarding the delivery of their part of the project. But it turns out that sometimes they are bypassing Jane and going instead to their manager for queries. When challenged about this, they responded by saying ‘you looked busy, so I didn’t want to bother you!’
There is several things wrong with this situation so let’s just take a moment to explore 2 of them:
- You have to wonder if it really is the case that Jane seemed too busy, so the team member didn’t want to interrupt her, or was it because they knew they wouldn’t get the answer they wanted so went to someone else?
- If it is true then Jane needs to make herself obviously more available to give the support to the team members to deliver the projects
If case number 1, Jane needs to work with her peers to ensure they direct staff to her rather than try and answer the questions themselves. All managers need to ‘sing off the same hymn sheet.’ No one wants a divisive culture in their business!
In case number 2, then Jane firstly needs to communicate with everyone that she is the main point of contact (and have this reiterated by her manager) and she also needs to make time to check in with the teams and create time when she can be available to support them.
Whatever the actual reasons, it is never acceptable for someone to say they didn’t bother you because you looked too busy. It’s not their job to be a mind reader and make decisions based on their psychic abilities! It’s your job as a manager to be available at times to support them whilst also protecting your time to work on your own projects.
Do you have similar experiences or stories to share? Please get in touch.