Leaders have a daily quandary: You want to be accessible to your team, but you have your own work to get done, so not TOO accessible. Most of us strive to hold an open-door policy where team members can stroll in anytime to chat or problem-solve with you. And we are almost always “on” and digitally connected so that staff ping us via email or text or instant messaging. But, how do we get time to focus to get our work done– work, that by the way ultimately helps the same team who wants our attention right now, to grow forward?

Be accessible, but not TOO accessible by:

  • Declaring the “door rules” to everyone in the office: closed door = do not disturb; door ajar = knock and ask if this is a good time; open door = c’mon in! This gives everyone a visual cue of your accessibility throughout the day.
  • Closing your door. Yes, It’s OK—when it’s periodic, and not abused as a barrier between you and your team.  Post a sign on your door that explains simply what you are working on and when you will be available next. And then get those priority projects done without interruption.
  • Practicing MBWA: managing by wandering around. Calendar blocks of time each week to wander the hallways and connect with staff to check on how they are doing, what they are working on, and how you can help. Many spontaneous conversations spring out of your showing up on their turf.
  • Scheduling regular one-to-ones with each direct report. By giving every person you supervise their own appointment each month, they are guaranteed your undivided attention, when you can focus on their development and clear away obstacles for them to better do their job. The team then gets “trained” to store up non-urgent topics for this carved-out time with you.
  • Telling your team the best ways to communicate with you. Do you prefer email for updates and texts for “needing urgent reply”? What deserves a face-to-face meeting? What needs written documentation and to be put in your in-box?
  • Establishing boundaries when off the clock. Unless you are in a position of emergency response leadership, make sure you take “digital Sabbath time” to unplug from electronic communications for long blocks of time on your days off–or else you will head toward burnout. And if you agree with this principle, share that with your team, too, and make a pact about letting everyone enjoy their down-time unless it’s an emergency. You need your family and recovery time!

It’s important to leave your staff with the positive impression that you are there for them AND that you follow-through on your commitments—you can do both to keep Growing Forward.  Visit www.paulcasey.org for tips, tools, quotes, and blogs for your leadership development, as well as my new book Leading the Team You’ve Always Wanted.

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