Working with a client and entrepreneur, Matt Morrison, founder of Ascend Sites, has been an enjoyable experience not just as a freelancer, but now as a business partner. Lately, Matt has a lot on his plate, and I've been astounded by how well he is handling it. Here are the top three lessons I've learned from working around and with him during these demanding times.
In my experience, maintaining eye contact with someone is the best way to make a person feel acknowledged. When you hold up your hand with the "1-second" sign, it can mean drastically different things between maintaining eye contact and looking away. Imagine someone greeting someone, and they retain their gaze away from you while holding up their hand. It hurts. You feel like you are not only not a priority, but that you're not even on their radar. Like you're a burden to their existence. Then imagine the same scenario while they maintain eye contact. To me, it says, "I see you. I value your input. I would like to hear what you have to say, but I want to respect the person on the other end of the line. I will get to you as soon as possible."
When you're visibly working toward helping your employees grow, succeed, and be well compensated, they will take notice. They will be your staunch ally in business, and work harder and smarter to help achieve your company's goals. Being swamped and not giving your employees enough attention can, over time, reduce morale and shake loyalty. But, if you have established from the beginning that you care and that your work isn't just for your own success, but the success of your employees, they will be far more patient with you during those busy stretches.
Being swamped can be trying on your emotions. Inevitably, you may lose your cool, and it can make for tumultuous moments. But, if you follow the advice from the previous point, employees can be a lot more forgiving. However, don't lean on that forgiveness by itself. Be sure to follow up later when things have cooled down and apologize to the person (or people) with which you lost your cool. Most of the time, forgiveness will come quickly. If it doesn't, however, you will have given yourself an excellent opportunity to hear them out and manage their concerns.