How to inspire employees with touch point leadership

For a number of years I have been involved in initiatives to improve employee morale and engagement, and create a more positive working environment. In my gut, I have always felt like the big, complex projects or events have a much lower impact on improving this area, versus the small things (like touch points) we can all do day in and day out.

So, I was pleased when I came across the book called “TouchPoints: Creating Powerful Leadership Connections in the Smallest of Moments” by Douglas Conant and Mette Morgaard.

A short aside… I came across this book while perusing the business section of my local library. I rediscover libraries every few years, and find that there is something so cool about running your eyes over hundreds of books, grabbing anything that looks interesting and then checking them out for free. I always find interesting things that I am not looking for, and holding a book and turning pages is not the same as reading it on a tablet (although I like to do both.)  I also like that I am reusing or recycling and not killing any additional trees in the process.

Back to my story about “Touch points”..… the author, Douglas Conant, is President and CEO of the Campbell Soup Company and he specializes in taking companies that are in bad shape, and then turning them around by focusing on employees first. Many of the examples, both good and bad, came from Conant’s personal leadership experiences.

  • Touch points take place any time two or more people get together to solve a problem or get something done. This could be casual conversations during a lunch break, an email exchange, a one on one meeting or a conference call.  They can be planned or spontaneous, casual or carefully choreographed.
  • Every time you are engaged in a touch point, you have the opportunity to make a difference in the work or personal lives of those you are interacting with. Per Conant, a successful touch point requires that you listen intently, bring logic, heart and competence to the discussion, and then follow-up.

I recently attended a time management training refresher (Franklin  Covey, The 5 Choices) and one thing they talk about is “gravel”.  Specifically, they advise to focus on the big rocks, i.e. what adds the most value, and don’t let all the little items, i.e. the gravel, weigh you down. During our group discussion in training, email often came up as “gravel”. However, after reading Touch Points, I am thinking about email a little differently.

A significant amount of our business communication is done via email and how you respond to every email, has an impact on the receiver.  You may respond in a helpful way that adds humor or an uplifting message that brightens the reader’s day. You could ignore their email or send a short/curt reply that results in another email reply. And/or you could call the sender and quickly resolve the matter personally over the phone. My takeaway here is to stop and be more deliberate in my email responses, and to think of them as a touch point versus just another “to-do’.

Another aspect that Conant discusses is what he calls the exponential effect of a touch point. In simpler terms, it is the social media effect or the idea that any person you interact with, may repeat or describe that interaction with 1 or hundreds of others. You need to think beyond that one discussion, and how it could impact many.

Every leadership response, regardless of the medium, is a touch point that can inspire or repel.  As Conant states, “It is the millions of ordinary, everyday moments that ultimately shape your reputation”.

How are you managing and mastering your touch points?

Touch Point Leadership
Touch Point Leadership | Image via

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