Does Your Cellphone Have an Invitation to My Meeting?
Mobile devices are ubiquitous and invaluable. Folks think they cannot get along without them, even taking a phone along to the restroom. Some employees seem to have a constant need to be checking screen, whether having a conversation with you, joining you in a meeting, or even during dinner/lunch with a client. They are all-the-time sidekicks.
Workers who are parents with small children often stress that, “…but it might be the babysitter or day care calling about my child.” Yes, it could be, but we’ll be done in a couple of minutes, THEN you can check to see who called! Or you might think your attention at a meeting is not critical, so you’ll just spend some time cleaning up your email box.
Here’s an example of what can happen. A corporate vice president was in a meeting with his team of professionals to develop a strategy to present to a new client. One of the newer employees, a recent college graduate from a prestigious Ivy League school, continually checked his phone, even as the VP was explaining the role that each team member would play during the upcoming pitch. The VP minced no words. He stopped in mid-sentence and firmly but clearly said to the newbie, “If you do that ever again in one of my meetings, or in front of a client, you are toast! Got it?” The guilty employee got it, was embarrassed in front his colleagues, and immediately learned to leave his phone in his briefcase when he attended a meeting.
In our company, we don’t take cellphones to client meetings. Why not? We believe the client/consultant personal interaction most be the primary, important function. Everything else will wait. We teach our executive coaching clients to silence their cellphones when attending any function or meeting. Once this habit becomes routine, you won’t miss it. And your client we know that he/she is more important, as they should be, than your phone.
Why not try it? Leave your uninvited guest in your briefcase or your car the next time you have a meeting with a boss, colleague or client. Odds are you won’t miss a thing while you are in the meeting. If you do, it won’t be for long — just the length of the meeting where you owe your attention to the other human being attending.