The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place. — George Bernard Shaw
As I kicked off a speaking engagement recently, I reminded my audience that speakers aren’t always the smartest people in the room. Not only do I believe this to be true, I find that reminding people of their own genius also encourages them to jump in with their own ideas and opinions. Looking back, I’m so grateful I encouraged this group to participate because they absolutely nailed the exercise.
The topic of my presentation was managing up. Not managing up in the sense of manipulating a manager’s behavior, but in the sense of managing the employee-manager relationship to ensure mutual benefit. Afterall, constructive relationships between managers and their teams ultimately benefit the entire organization, right?
After trotting out some research on manager-employee relationships and sharing some of my own observations, I asked the audience to think about the perfect employee-manager relationship. What creates this perfection? I expected lots of different answers, but when individuals started sharing their answers with the larger group, a definite pattern emerged.
Almost two-thirds of participants identified “communication” as the most important factor in creating an effective employee-manager relationship (A-ha moment #1). Intrigued, I invited participants to elaborate.
As we dug deeper, it became clear that the type of communication participants appreciated most from their managers was not ALWAYS communication about goals or projects, but simple greetings and casual conversations (A-ha moment #2). Here’s what the brilliant folks in this audience shared with me:
“He greets me whenever he comes to the office.”
“She always asks about my weekend.”
“He knows the names of my kids.”
“She always says good morning to me.”
So fascinating and so insightful, especially for those of us who tend to focus on tasks and results and not the people behind them. Want to be a better leader, how about starting with Hello?