I am not naturally someone who leaves a lot of time before getting ready to go out, much to my husband’s frustration. If we have ten minutes before we need to leave for an appointment I will try to fit in another three or four jobs – sure that I will have enough time to just get another thing done, which of course I invariably don’t and I end up running either right up to the wire or being late.
Whilst listening to one of the presentations as part of my MEd I was struck by a comment made about time and being on time to meetings. The presenter stressed how important it is to not just be on time but a little early. There shouldn’t be any expectation that the person you are meeting is ready before the appointment but by being prompt you signal the value you place on your meeting with them. It says that you’re not distracted by anything else, nothing has been prioritised over them, that you have given that time in your day to them. This is, of course, key for meetings with those you line manage or working parties that you’re part of. If you arrive rushed or a few minutes late – it matters, people notice and can feel that you’re not prepared or prioritising them. Of course, there will be times when this can’t be helped or meetings need to be rescheduled but informing people that you’re likely to be delayed or telling someone in advance (if possible) that you’ll need to reschedule is a courtesy. I apologise, this is really obvious but can get missed when diaries become full of a wider variety of tasks and more people will need your time.
My current role has meant I’m now working across a number of different sites within our school and I’m meeting a lot of staff to discuss their professional development. I have had to be very strict with myself to ensure I have sufficient travel time between one meeting and the next and that I don’t get distracted by corridor conversations or checking emails or popping into someone’s office for a quick catch up. I’ll put my hands up – I haven’t had a 100% success rate but I’m working on putting in structures into my day and diary to be better.
We all have management skills that come naturally to us, we don’t have to work at them, we are automatically able to demonstrate particular attributes. Some skills that we lack we can find through building a team, one with multifaceted skills that help to support one another. However, we can’t brush off the skills that don’t come naturally; we still need to work at them. Time and recognising that I can’t just check this message or pop into see that person, that job will take longer than I think, is a skill I have to work at if I am to be a better senior leader.