Matt Blumberg recently wrote about a book called ‘TouchPoints: Creating Powerful Leadership Connections in the Smallest of Moments’ by Douglas R Conant & Mette Norgaard and I decided to pick it up (book & kindle). I’m glad I did because it is an excellent read and it’s one of those books that as you move through it, you can instantly feel it is going to impact how you go about things both immediately and forever.
A touchpoint is described as every interaction you have with someone and the crux of the book is that these should be seen as valuable opportunities for leaders to increase their impact, promote the organizations strategy and values and to build and maintain strong relationships with individuals.
Here are some of the key take homes for me:
Make time for touchpoints – It’s easy to allow the week to swallow you up so carving out time to have touchpoints is essential. I find planning out the key touchpoints you want to have at the beginning of the week and then building them into the plan for the day is the best way to ensure the right interactions actually happen. It could be an email you need to send, a drop by chat at someone’s desk or a more structured face-to-face meeting – planning them up front will increase the chances of them happening.
Be aware of touchpoints – Touchpoints can also be unplanned. It might be bumping into someone in the corridor, having a spontaneous follow up chat after a meeting or simply someone coming to see you unexpectedly. Consciously acknowledge these as more than just whatever issues are being discussed – these are a touchpoint and an opportunity to make a wider impact.
Be personal – Look further than what’s going on in the four walls of where you work. Each individual has passions outside of work, a family, relationships that are special to them and their own personal challenges. Get to know people and show an interest in what’s going on in their life, what makes them tick and what they care about. Not only will you build a huge amount of respect for taking the time to care about them beyond what they can deliver for you at work, you may also learn something new
Listen – It’s so easy and tempting to be the first one to jump in when an issue is being described. You want to solve issues as quickly as possible and it’s nice to be the one that provides the solution right? However biting your tongue, taking the time to simply listen and asking pertinent questions that facilitate the discussion will generally allow for both a strong solution and it’ll also strengthen other people’s problem solving skills.
1. Listen intently 2. Frame the issue 3. Advance the agenda
This model for ensuring meetings are productive is brilliant. Start off by listening intently – take time to properly understand the issue at hand. Then frame the issue to the group. Articulating this clearly and concisely is incredibly important – perhaps as you are listening it might be good to take some notes so that when it is your time to frame the issue, you are able to articulate it incredibly clearly. I actually find that most of the notes I now make in meetings are for the things I want to say next rather than actions. Lastly, you need to advance the agenda. What are the next steps that need to happen? Who is accountable for what and what are the time frames? Building some momentum here is key.
It was a particularly good time for me to read this book. In the last 3-6 months I have been trying to juggle a couple of roles and have been attempting to keep too many plates spinning at the same time.
It hit home to me whilst reading this book that I have stopped doing one of the things that made be personally effective – making the time to have personal touchpoints with people. I used to spend at least 20% of my time on these and I used them to give positive and constructive feedback, lay key messages, share information and perhaps most importantly see people beyond what they can do for me at work.
I spent this week getting back to that and it felt both great and I felt it’s been one of the most productive weeks for some time.
The other thing that really struck a chord was the listening part. I am going to work really hard at taking the time to listen, say less overall and make what I say count.
As you can probably tell, I highly recommend this book.