The Importance of Presence

For leaders entrusted with an organization’s future, it’s sometimes challenging to focus on the now.

We spend a great deal of time envisioning the company next week, next year or five years down the road. Oftentimes the “now” is a regular dose of fires every manager needs to extinguish. It’s all too easy to let the less pressing items slide to the “later” category.

One thing that can get lost in the shuffle is communication. In particular, a company needs its leaders to be present — to personally and regularly deliver news, plans for the future and the current state of the business.

Fear lives in the shadows; nowhere is that more evident than in the workplace. The rumor mill fills the void when an organization fails to share information and plans with its workforce. Transparent communication casts light into dark places.

Regular communication, whether through electronic means or regular contact by management with frontline employees, should be the baseline. But another factor simply can’t be ignored: Top levels of leadership must be present.

As a company grows, it’s not unusual for a wall to develop between leadership and the rest of the company. Demands on leaders’ time grow with more offsite commitments and more onsite meetings. Without an intentional effort at personal contact, employees may start seeing things as us and them (leadership). Carving out time to connect with employees helps ensure we move forward as a company.

We’ve decided to systematically set aside time for our top leaders to meet with professionals in each of our sites several times per year. A forthright “state of the union” message, along with time for open question and answer sessions, allows for open communication throughout the company.

Such deliberate communication builds trust and enforces a culture where everyone’s efforts drive success. And, perhaps more than anything, it builds personal contact — the feeling that everyone is in the same boat, rowing toward that distant shore together.


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