My last but one meeting of the day is with the Business Unit Director, and we’re due to review his Talent Management programme. Frankly, his leaders just haven’t been doing what was agreed … again. It’s not looking good for me getting the programme rolled out, and it’s always his unit that’s behind. It’s going to be another one of those conversations…and it is. The same old excuses, the same barriers, the same hollow agreements, and leaving me with the same feeling as usual, another waste of time and effort as I rush to my last meeting of the day. I stop at my desk to print something out, my computer freezes and no matter how hard I hit the buttons, or how many times, it just won’t do anything. I needed that document for the meeting. “Print!! It isn’t difficult, why can’t you do what I ask?!”
I get home, pour my much needed glass of wine, sit down with a huge sigh, and I wonder … why is it so hard for him to just get on with it? It isn’t difficult, why can’t he just do what I ask?
So, the computer is one thing, I have the power to reboot it, and although I might have been a little late for that meeting, it eventually did what I asked. I didn’t have to reason with it, I just had to stop impatiently pressing buttons and let it process at its own pace.
My business unit Director is another thing. I can’t just reboot him, although the thought has crossed my mind. So what can I do? What can I do differently that might lead to a different outcome? Something more positive for both of us perhaps, even Win-Win.
What happens if I look at my contribution to the situation? Would a change in my approach attract a different response? My intention is always positive, but what gets in the way? What’s different here from when I am highly successful, collaborative and achieve fantastic results?
How am I turning up to this conversation? Perhaps with the focus of getting my job done, knowing what I need to achieve, and having the standard solutions to all the barriers that come up time and time again.
After many moments to reflect, the significant difference dawns …listening …Genuine listening, not superficial or pretend listening. Listening with a genuine intrigue and the desire to truly understand his problems. In other words, listening before I hear.
We generally hear what we want to hear, and we generally get the reaction we turn up expecting. I expected it to be another difficult conversation… it was.
I then wonder how my Director turns up to this conversation. Does he think he always has the same conversation with me? Where I never understand his operational needs. Where my needs to deliver must take priority. Where I never understand the pressure he is under. The ones where I never listen.
My next conversation is a very different one. I really listen, with no preconceived ideas, no pre-talk in my head. I listen to understand, and I leave my agenda at the door. What a difference it makes …
Now I understand!
After all, even though I can’t reboot my Business Unit Director, if I stop pressing his buttons over and over, take time to listen and understand maybe he won’t need a reboot. Maybe I’ll try that with my computer next time too! In fact, now I’m even wondering, who was it that really needed the reboot in the first place?