3 Things Dropping My Phone In A Pond Taught Me About Team Management



I was on a bike ride the other day with the kids and we stopped to try and catch some frogs at a local pond.


As I checked my phone for the hundredth time during the ten minutes we were there...my phone slipped out of my hand, bounced off a rock, and quickly disappeared into the depths of the murky water.


After talking myself out of jumping in (if I was alone, I was definitely water bound) panic ensued…


How was I going to talk to my team?

How was I going to be accessible to clients?

How was I going to know and be able to respond the exact second an email came in?


I quickly realized that my addiction to this little device and being ‘plugged in’ was out of control!


A few hours later, after the panic subsided, a beautiful thing happened…


I became PRESENT! Crazy, I know.


My kids could talk to me without having to share me with my phone. I could stay focused in a conversation with my wife without feeling the urge to answer the text I just got.


I had no idea how connected and distracted I had become!


That got me thinking...


If I noticed the impact my phone addiction was having with my family in a matter of hours, how was the phone impacting the way I interacted with my team at work all day long? How was it impacting the way my managers were interacting with their teams? And so on.


I decided to make 3 changes that have had a huge impact on removing unnecessary distractions and a lot of potential inefficiency when managing my team.


No Devices in Meetings


Similar to myself, I noticed that my team was also quick to pull out their phones to check an email when their phones buzzed.


So, we decided to try something new – no using devices during meetings. It is fine to bring a computer, phone, etc into a meeting but it has to be neutralized. No email. No texts. No rings or vibrations. No exceptions!


Not surprisingly, everyone became much more locked in on the task at hand. Meeting productivity went up and time spent in meetings went down! Win, win.


Listen AND Understand


Listening is only half of the equation and it’s easy to kinda, sorta be listening and also be thinking about that email that just came in. That doesn’t really work though.


I did two things to fix this. First, I started asking direct, specific questions to make sure I understood the details of the conversation. If I couldn’t do that then I knew I wasn’t paying close enough attention and needed to refocus.


Second, I began summarizing what I was hearing at the end of a conversation and asking a question to check my understanding. Sounds silly, but it forced me to lock in, helped with overall information retention, and showed the other person that I was truly present for the conversation.


Think First, Google Second


Google has done an amazing job attempting to think for many of us. When unsure of an answer, I often find myself googling for recommendations.


With no phone, I was forced to actually spend more than five seconds thinking of an answer. In doing so, I was much more creative and came up with great solutions that I may have otherwise missed.


Don’t get me wrong – Google and other forms of tech are incredible resources but they should be used to augment our personal computing power not replace it.


Now, I actively try to think first and google second.

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