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Time to Look Down

Do you know how things are?

For many leaders, the coronavirus will be a career-defining moment.
And unless your company was a master at scenario and/or strategic planning, for the most part, it’s been learning by doing. 
And that’s not a criticism.  It just is.

Focusing upward and outward
Regardless of where you are in the organizational hierarchy, you’ve likely not had time for much else other than your historic responsibilities and the additional ones you’ve now embraced due to COVID-19.

And because of that, you’ve likely been focused upward and outward.  Upward, in that you’re focused on the needs of and requests from your manager or Board. Outward, in that you’re focused on navigating through the constantly changing landscape due to the coronavirus.

So what’s happening below? 
If the leaders below you are similarly focused upward and outward, who then is focusing downward, i.e. on their direct reports?

Time to find out
So time to conduct short skip-level meetings, in which you meet with at least some of the direct reports of your direct reports.

Yes, I know.  Your direct reports will want to know why you want to meet with their direct reports.  And why now?

We’ve all heard of the CEO who leaves headquarters, and takes time to visit the stores, the warehouse, the plant, the branch office, etc.  This is simply your version of that.  You need to be seen and heard, and you need to see and hear, even if it’s done virtually.

Ideally, this should be part of your ongoing leadership routine, with or without a pandemic. 

What you need to ensure
Given what’s at stake due to the ramifications of the coronavirus, you need to ensure that:

  1. What you’ve communicated to the organization has been heard accurately.
  2. What you’ve communicated to the organization has been understood completely.
  3. Your direct reports are leading in a way that instills trust and confidence in their direct reports.
  4. The concerns of your employees are reaching you unfiltered.

I realize your plate is more than full now, and that you’re laser focused on ensuring the survival and return of your company or organization.  And it’s good that you’re doing so.

Just don’t place your company’s or organization’s future all on your shoulders.

You must ensure your people are shouldering a similar load and responsibility.

So spend a few minutes with their people to ensure your hard work and effort is being unambiguously reinforced by those you lead and manage.