An excerpt from ‘The Thin Book of Naming Elephants‘ :

In their book Execution, Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan estimate that 40 percent of an effective leader’s time is spent on people issues. They point out that: “This immense personal commitment is time-consuming and fraught with emotional wear and tear in giving feedback, conducting dialogues, and exposing your judgment to others. But the foundation of a great company is the way it develops people.” There are no shortcuts in developing people, but here are some time stretching suggestions.

  • Change the way you hold meetings and take turns to allow everyone to speak. This creates opportunities for people to build relationships and sends the message that you want to hear what others think. Consider rotating the leadership responsibility for the meeting among your employees.
  • Instead of hitting the seductive reply button on your email, walk to the person’s desk if possible. Face-to-face interaction builds relationships and may also cue you into subtle signals of concern that are missing in emails.

  • Return phone calls in the shortest period of time possible without regard to the perceived status and rank of the caller. Failure to return phone calls in a timely manner (or at all) creates a lot of anger in the corporate world. Remember that all members of your organization have something valuable to offer.

  • Host an informal lunch on a regularly scheduled basis. Order pizza or sandwiches if the budget allows and keep it to 30 minutes. Ask everyone to share an idea – about something they learned in the last week as the “price” of lunch. Or just use the time for informal conversation so people can get to know each other – and you – better.

If you are a manager of that 40 % of your time dealing with ‘people issues’ – you would probably agree that it constitutes almost 100% of your stress. So learning to deal more effectively with people you manage, supervise or work with can have big benefits – you’d probably live longer too. And of course the end result is greater collaborative intelligence within your team.