Everything shows on our face. Happiness, surprise, anger, disgust, sadness, fear, stress. It’s good to have emotion and show it, you want to be seen as human after all. But mostly you want to be seen as professional and approachable – this is what I term as putting on your Managers Face.
Do You Appear Professional and Approachable?
I had the opportunity to conduct many employee interviews as a result of Employee Opinion Surveys. One theme that stood out to me was how supportive or not supportive employees felt their manager was. Often this wasn’t so much about how much interaction the employee had with their manager, it was about whether they thought their manager was approachable. Comments like, “she looks so grouchy all the time I don’t want to bother her,” or, “he always looks so angry when I interrupt him.”
I know. Some days it’s difficult not to roll your eyes and grit your teeth in frustration when someone asks you the same question for the 3rd time in a day. Sleepless nights, mornings when the kids seem intent on making your life miserable, traffic jams, and motorists that clearly shouldn’t have a drivers license. How do you walk into work every day energized and motivated and appear professional and approachable? How do you keep up the Managers Face?
For some people, it’s natural to be bubbly, positive, and energized. For most of us, it’s not. Life happens and we get grouchy. You’ve been up half the night thinking about the employee who told you that you haven’t been supportive enough. Or there’s a deadline looming that you haven’t yet started on. Maybe something your boss said yesterday made you feel incompetent. Or maybe it’s home stuff….or both.
Morning was always a whirlwind for me. I wasn’t a morning person, the alarm was an evil menace, the snooze button my best friend. By the time I got up, dressed, packed kids lunches, and got everyone organized, I was lucky to get out the door wearing matching shoes. I recall one morning driving to work when I stopped at a light and looked down for a quick check. Whew, I did put on my skirt.
I knew walking into the office grumpy, disheveled, and haggard was not an option. Heading straight for the coffee pot with an inaudible grunt to the early birds at work. Half an hour after my caffeine injection I started to wake up and function semi normally.
It was time for something to change.
Small Changes Make a Difference
I knew I needed coffee to be civil. I shouldn’t have even driven a vehicle without it. Did you know that Keurig’s weren’t invented until 1992? Well, I was working long before that. No wonder I never took the time to have a coffee in the morning at home! I tried a stop on the way to work which just seemed more frustrating because of course the person in front of me needed 5 dozen assorted donuts for a meeting. Get up a few minutes earlier – nope, not happening. What worked was a simple change, getting a pot ready the night before and I was able to encourage my spouse to push the start button when he got up (earlier than me). I think even just waking up to the smell of fresh coffee made me a better person.
Take Advantage of Your Morning Commute
Once I was pumped with caffeine and ready for the day, my commute to work was what I called Thankful Time. I made sure every morning as I was driving to work I thought about something that I was truly thankful for in my life. Negative thoughts would always try to creep in; that jerk driver that just cut me off, and what I really wanted to say to the complaining employee. I just made sure to keep going back to that good place. The last thing I was thinking before I walked through the door was what I was truly thankful for. It sounds simple, but for me it was amazingly effective. Eventually putting on my Managers Face became a morning habit and something I would think about often during the day when my frustration level was rising.
What does your morning commute look like? Is it stressful? Do you listen to the news and get depressed? Can you use your commute to your advantage?
A Break means a Break
One other critical change I made was when it came time for a lunch break. There were many days I felt I had too much to do so I grabbed a quick lunch or ate at my desk and worked through it. While you may have to do this for some critical projects, this shouldn’t be a habit.
It makes a significant difference when you just step away for a while. Do you enjoy a walk? A drive? Sitting on a park bench? Sometimes I went home or to the mall or anyplace outside the office for at least a half hour. When I got back to the office, I checked my mood and face at the door and started a fresh afternoon.
For you it may not be Thankful Time or coffee, but find whatever it is that works and keep it simple. What’s your favorite song? You can set it as your alarm default. How about 10 minutes of meditation or stretching, breathing, yoga, or a quick walk in the morning? If you’re like me and extra time isn’t in the cards try listening to a motivational podcast, your favorite playlist, or comedy on the way to work. If the morning news is depressing you – turn it off. Find your key to calmness and keep it simple and consistent. You’ll find that putting on your Managers Face gets easier. Your mindset overall will be improved and your employees will “see” you as more approachable.
How do you stay professional and approachable? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!