I’m officially at the tail end of my holiday break today, as work resumes for me tomorrow, January 6th. All things considered, it’s been an incredible time – the best holiday season I’ve had for as long as I remember.
The reason it was so great was that for two weeks, I managed to tune out all the noise from my “rest of the year” routines and reconnect with my daughter, Harper. I hate to admit it, but I haven’t had a chance to spend this much time with her since she was born last year.
Obviously, Gen and I faced a lot of challenges and dealt with a lot of stressful situations. We hardly had any time to ourselves. I also didn’t get to do most of what I had in my “productivity” to-do list. As a matter of fact, I managed to cross off a few things in the list only in the last couple of days.
And all of that is completely fine, because what I got instead was way better.
Spending time with Harper allowed me to see a lot of progress I hadn’t really noticed before – syllables she’s started to pronounce, little things she’s learned (like reactions associated with certain songs), and best of all, the personality she’s started to develop (a pretty strong one, I have to say). The holiday merrymaking was also a chance to see her socialize a little more than usual. And while it did skew her daily rhythm a little bit, it was a great opportunity to observe and allow her to grow in that all too important social aspect.
Most significant for me though was that I started to re-learn her cues. There’s no feeling of success quite like getting it right on the first try and understanding exactly what she needs at a particular moment. There’s no definite logic to it and it’ll never be much more than a “best guess”, but to some extent, connecting with her just allowed me to be better in sync.
I guess it’s yet another lesson on empathy. Spending time with people allows you to better tune in to their situations and understand their needs, even without a word said. Observing their successes and challenges and working through different approaches together – that’s time well spent and always leads to better experiences for everyone.
In the context of leading a team, this is why one-on-one’s are very important. Tuning out of your day-to-day work and taking time to feel how your peers, reports, or even leaders thrive and struggle with on a personal level enables you to help them succeed – even if only by hearing them out.
A whole new year of work is on the way for me starting tomorrow. I can’t wait to get at it. Here’s to another year of success for you and your teams!
Dexter is an engineering manager at Synacy, a co-founder of ATeam Business Software Solutions, and founder of TechManagement.Life. He loves to share his experiences and thoughts on managing software teams and running businesses.