Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for November, 2010

Confidentiality—crucial to successful business relationships.

I lunched in a great little restaurant the other day. Key word “little” here, because just behind me were two gentlemen who were meeting with someone on a speakerphone. It was so loud and intrusive that I had trouble listening to the person I was lunching with. I finally turned around and very nicely said: “May I ask you to turn off your speakerphone, as I’m finding it difficult to hear our conversation?” One of the gentleman said: “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m a lawyer and we’re getting some information that’s important about this young man who is in jail, and this (he gestures to his lunch partner) is the boy’s father.”

I offered a brief acknowledgement to the boy’s father and turned back around to my friend. They turned off the speakerphone, and my friend and I marveled at the lack of integrity and professionalism the attorney’s behavior demonstrated.

Trust is the foundation of any business relationship. And our integrity in maintaining our employees’ and/or clients’ privacy and esteem—at all times, whether they’re present or not—is crucial.

Temporary relief.

So many of us are stretched to the limit with work demands—a high influx of emails and communications awaiting our responses, multiple projects and major deadlines. Add family and friend responsibilities, and life in general, and we may find ourselves stressed and out of balance.

I am fortunate because when I’m swamped, it generally happens in two to four-week spurts and then there may be a short respite—a few days—where I can slow down a little, and regroup before the next wave. For me, this is essential in order for me to deliver my best work.

For many of you who are employed in the current business environment, you may be working at this level for many months at a time. And if you are, you may not be as effective, efficient, and certainly not as creative, when you are stressed or exhausted. In addition to your not feeling balanced, your organization may not be getting your best work, and your family and friends probably aren’t getting your best either.

If you can relate, and you’re leading others, it’s important to remember that the same holds true for your team. Your genuine empathy for, and acknowledgment of, the current state of high demands can help. Offering a vision or target for anticipated assistance, or hope towards an upcoming shift in the pace may go a long way.

At the very least, you may want to offer a gesture to demonstrate your appreciation. Have lunch brought in and invite people to take a break. Or, if feasible, encourage your staff to head home early on a Friday afternoon or on a day when you sense that they may need it. Or, you can simply take the time to write personal notes to offer your thanks for their hard work.

These ideas reflect gestures that can be meaningful, and can have an impact on morale, in the short term. However, a true leader who consistently finds their employees in a heightened stressful state, will do whatever he or she can to change the situation or circumstances that cause people to consistently work without relief.