As a result of two back surgeries, I’ve had the benefit of a great deal of physical therapy and specialized Pilates work.
As I was walking today (part of my daily regimen to remain upright) I was thinking about something interesting my talented and very knowledgeable Pilates Coach, Jill Wolf, said to me early after my second lumbar fusion surgery, when my muscles were so tight and so tense, I wasn’t sure I was ever going to be able to stand up straight again.
She said, “tension is simply the lack of movement… the lack of action.” Of course, for me and my fused back, this “movement” means daily exercises and aerobic activities. As I thought about this statement further, however, I thought it offered valuable lessons in many other areas as well, particularly in business.
Tension in the workplace most often arises when there is poor, or worse, no communication. Clients don’t hear from their firm enough and, thus, they begin to feel disengaged. This tension lingers and heightens the longer the gaps between communications lengthen. A worse, but, unfortunately, very common example, is when a client is frustrated with the cost of a bill. Rather than sit down and discuss the situation, both parties let the situation fester, inevitably leading to increased and completely unnecessary tension. And, these are just two small examples.
It sounds simple, but it is so true; communication is critical to success and, conversely, lack of communication will most certainly lead to tension. As it does within our muscles and bodies, tension can wreck havoc on an organization and it can take months, if not years, for a full recovery to take place.
Some tips and exercises to keep your organization “tension-free” include:
Visit your clients regularly – and often at your expense.
- Call frequently between visits; not just when you have news on a case but, simply to say hello and to see how the client is doing. Let them know you care.
- Attend Board Meetings, attend company picnics (when allowed), host 360 degree evaluations, do whatever it takes to become part of the fabric of the organization.
- If a client or someone within the organization is recognized for civic or charitable work, recognize it with a personal note or some other communication. (Again, clients want to work with people who care about who they are and the work they do).
Keep your client abreast.
- Never underestimate the client’s interest in keeping involved in a transaction.
- Let’s also not forget, unless it is your birthday, nobody likes surprises.
If you sense trouble – of any kind – get AHEAD of it.
- Address the situation directly: “It looks like the bill is going to be higher than we thought. Before we send you the invoice, I wanted to go over it with you in person.”
- Get on a plane and meet with the client immediately. Do not let a problem linger.
- Know when e-mail is and is not appropriate. In times of tension, face-to-face or phone communication is typically best.
Talk it out.
- At the end of the day, we are all human and, while we may disagree on certain things, it is hard not to respect a good discussion on the issues.
Stay limber and, as always,
take good care.