At the end of our Monday huddle, I said, “By the way, we might go to Florida to visit family at the end of July, but I’m not sure yet.” This was met with dead silence. Remembering last summer, I added, “I promise I’ll let you know BEFORE we go, if we go.”
Last year I learned a crucial lesson: As a boss, you work hard to build a team of people who are committed and will support you and the company, who truly care and will step up. Then sometimes as a boss you do everything possible to isolate yourself from the support you worked so hard to create.
Last summer I planned to take my son to Florida to visit family, but at the last minute I wasn’t sure if we were going. We decided to go and drove out on a Saturday. I didn’t think to tell my team, since it was a weekend and I was distracted with packing for a road trip from Austin to Tampa with a 4-year-old. Well, life happened: We stayed midway over Saturday night at a friend’s. Sunday morning my son fell and hit his head, so we ended up at urgent care for incision glue. So we were delayed finishing the drive. More life (i.e. drama and such) ensued and by Monday I was in Tampa, but in that place of “I can work, but if I talk to one more person I’m going to lose it.” I put myself in a time out ? but I forgot to tell my team. So although I was available by email and they could see I was working, I sent brief texts to cancel our conference call meetings. And I hunkered down to take a deep breath and get it back together while not dropping the ball on clients. (I really hope that at this point in reading I’m not the ONLY boss who has been in this place!)
On Wednesday, when I showed up for my call with my key team member, she said one of the most powerful things anyone has ever said to me: “I’m trying to support you. But you aren’t telling me what’s happening or what you need. Let me help you.”
And I realized I was blessed to have a team member who truly cares about me and would (and was) going the extra mile while life was kicking my butt, but she had to wing it because I wasn’t communicating. Does that mean I have to tell her the nitty gritty details? No. (Unless I wanted to, because she would have listened if I needed her to.) But I could have communicated that my son and I were OK, but that I was overwhelmed and needed to limit interaction as much as possible for a day or two (which is my way of collecting myself). She would have happily covered any interaction needed by me, but with some clarity and security that everything was OK – and some info on what she needed to do.
I left her completely alone and guessing what was happening personally and professionally.
I realized that we train team all the time to be honest with their bosses about what’s going on in their lives. Again, that doesn’t necessarily mean sharing anything too personal, just letting them know if something is happening so any distraction or change in attitude isn’t misread. Now I realize that works both ways.
And while we also must be conscious, as bosses and leaders of our teams, to not overshare to an extent that we cause uncertainty or chaos, we must be responsible that our team is in tune with our habits and attitude, and when those abruptly change it leaves them in the dark, guessing and unable to support us, which is why we can feel so isolated as business owners.
Find a balance of what you are comfortable communicating with your team to avoid this in-the-dark guesswork and for goodness sake, if you leave town let them know!
If you need help finding a team that can provide you support like this, consider scheduling a complimentary 30-minute discovery by clicking here now.