Recently, a client told me that her manager asked her to coffee. She didn’t accept the invite because she had meetings scheduled. Logically, this makes sense. We don’t want to negatively impact colleagues and their schedules, and we don’t want to disrupt our schedules. So we do what is best for everyone in the organization, and arrange with our manager’s admin a mutually agreeable time to have coffee, right? WRONG!
We don’t always know what our managers are thinking about or even how they think. When they ask us for coffee that means they want to tell us what’s on their mind. The best course of action, regardless of what we have planned, is to go and listen to them.
There are many reasons for accepting a meeting even though our schedule won’t allow it, here are three:
- It signals to your manager that you are loyal to them. Senior leaders want people on their teams that will jump through hoops for them and ultimately, make them look good. If you make them look good, they will take care of you.
- If your manager has an ego of self-importance, better you feed it rather than starve it. If you signal they aren’t that important to you then you may, ultimately, not be important to them. This can be a bad career move.
- In the world of improv, one of the most important rules in creating improvisation is “YES, and.” Saying Yes, moves the scene forward. Nos stop a scene in its tracks. Similar to business, when we say YES to opportunities, it can potentially move our careers forward. Saying no, especially to a senior leader, can stall and may even negatively impact our careers.
What do you think happened to this client when she declined the coffee invite? She immediately set up a time to meet that worked for both of their calendars. I don’t’ know if it was a week, a day or an hour later, but I do know that her manager cancelled on her. Why? Perhaps, her schedule now didn’t allow for the meeting, or she decided to pull rank. Most likely, the meeting was no longer important to her. Whatever was on her mind, whatever was critical to discuss at that time, passed. And my client will now never know what that conversation was going to be about.
When your manager makes time to have coffee with you, make time for them.
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Doris Braun, Leadership Development and Executive Coach, helps women business leaders promote themselves, transition to new leadership positions and take on new career challenges. Follow her on www.LeadershipSolutionsforWomen.com and Twitter @dorisbraun.