The Time of Our Lives

If the title of this post brings up memories of the Bill Medley/Jennifer Warnes song from Dirty Dancing because it was the theme song from your prom, you and I have something in common.  But when you think of the “best time of your life”, what do you think of?

On a recent stint of R&R in San Antonio, our good friends Tom and Patsy shared that when they asked their grown kids about their favorite time during childhood, they both mentioned that it was the time that their Dad (Tom) was out of work.

Getting ready for a Segway ride - Patsy is in the white jacket on right, Tom is right behind her.


When asked why, they mentioned that they really enjoyed being able to spend more time with Dad (and Mom of course!), and that they really liked the simple things they did to spend time together.  Tom and Patsy recalled lunchtime picnics listening to the cars go by, feeling sort of bad that they couldn’t do more for their kids at the time.  Turns out, they were doing exactly what they needed to do.

If you have kids, feel free to take this as a lesson in parenting.  If you are a leader, PLEASE take this as a lesson about the MOST valuable resource you can give your employees – your time.

Your time means you care.  Your time means you’ll listen.  Your time means they can count on you and trust you.  You may have read my post from Jan. 16 about providing undivided attention to your guests.  Your employees deserve the same courtesy.

In that post I discussed looking at staffing levels and NOT reducing them to their bare bones level of efficiency, but to look at what is really needed to serve your guests properly.  Tom and Patsy’s example shows that we should be careful about spreading our leaders too thin as well.  In order to spend time with your employees, you have to HAVE the time to spend.  It’s unfortunate, but the area that usually gets eliminated when time is tight is the time with the employees.  Reports and paperwork seem to get done because there is a measurable deadline.  Why don’t we put the same value on time with the people who are most valuable to the organization?

This is also good to keep in mind when thinking about what it really takes to motivate your employees.  Ever wonder why gift cards and movie tickets lose their luster?  Same reason that toy you really wanted for your birthday is sitting in the closet collecting dust.  Those things cannot bring you the joy and value that quality time can.

Just like everything else regarding leadership, this is a balancing act.  So what can you do to carve out some extra time to spend with your employees?