Recently a friend of mine was complaining about her boss’s habit of taking several days, or sometimes a week, to respond to email queries or meeting requests. Like many employees, my friend appreciates her independence and values autonomy, but she sometimes runs into an issue that requires her boss’s input. However, their unresponsiveness makes her feel like her work isn’t being valued. And she often can’t move on with a project until she hears from them, so she’s also less productive as a result.
I have seen this lack of responsiveness from leaders cause stress and impact efficiency in other places as well. While leaders may genuinely be busy with more urgent matters, I have observed what can happen when a leader has a my-work-is-more-important-than-yours mentality, making everyone else wait in line to have their issue addressed. I have also seen leaders who are just unaware of the impact their unresponsiveness has on morale and efficiency.
If we want employees to complete their tasks well and on time, we need to respond as quickly as we can when they ask us for help or clarification.
I have always believed that a big part of my job is to help my staff do their job. If we want employees to complete their tasks well and on time, we need to respond as quickly as we can when they ask us for help or clarification. Taking this a step further, I have a practice of letting employees know when I won’t be available so they can plan around my absence. I have found that it’s particularly important to carve out time before I leave for longer periods and right when I return to be available to staff.
My hope in writing about the importance of responsive leadership is that you reflect on your own practices of being available and responsive to staff needs and questions. And if needed, work to adjust your attitude and approach toward being available to your employees.
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