Friday, January 23, 2015

the pop-in

Yesterday I had several people stop by the office and pop-in to say hello and chat for awhile.  Most times when people pop-in they begin with the words, "I'm sorry for bothering you..." or "I know you are busy..."  I have come to truly appreciate the pop-in and look forward to the conversations that ensue from them.  Of course, the downside of the pop-in is the interruption of concentrated time to think or work on a specific project.  Pop-ins can become an irritant if the frequency of them cannot be controlled.

A few thoughts on the value of the pop-in:
  • keeps you in the know on a real-time basis
  • you learn what is important to people and certain individuals
  • the person who is popping-in feels incredibly honored
  • gives you a chance to ask questions that might not otherwise come up
  • makes you approachable and a real human being
  • breaks up any monotony that might be happening
  • gets you up from behind your desk and into a standing position
To create a more pop-in friendly office, consider the following:
  • keep your office door open (conversely, keep it closed when you need concentrated time)
  • if you see someone walking by, wave them on in (conversely, keep your head down)
  • invite people into your office for spur of the moment meetings (conversely, only hold those meetings in the hallways)
  • be genuinely excited when someone sticks their head into the door (conversely, keep typing on your computer as you talk with them)
  • get up from behind the desk, greet the pop-in enthusiastically, and sit down with them for a short conversation (conversely, stay seated behind the desk and shuffle papers around as they talk)
  • give the pop-in your full attention for as long as you are able to (conversely, stay focused on whatever task you were doing, occasionally grunting and nodding your head)
  • if you are not able to give the pop-in your attention, let them know that this is not a good time and for them to come back again later (conversely, get more and more irritated the longer they stay)
  • become a pop-in yourself in other offices...let it be know that popping-in is part of your routine as well (conversely, stay in your office all the time with your door shut)
  • be appreciative of the pop-in as they leave...you may even want to send them a thank you note for taking the time to pop-in (conversely, ignore them next time you see them in the hall so they will know how irritated you were about their pop-in)
One final caution...there are some pop-ins who overstay their welcome and keep talking, no matter how many gentle (or not-so-gentle) hints you give.  A trick I learned a long time ago is to stand up and start walking toward the door as if you have another place to be.  The hope is that they follow you out the door, you thank them for coming by, and then walk toward the restrooms.  If they still keep following you...well, good luck at that point!

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