Contact Time

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I recently read an article title about the step most people are missing when they use cleaning products. Having spent some time (in a job early in my career) learning how cleaners maximize chemical efficacy, I immediately knew the secret the headline promised to reveal. Most people don’t follow the manufacturer’s specifications for contact time (the length of time the chemical needs to sit to be fully effective). There were several reasons given for this lack of adherence to best practice; simple ignorance, not enough time allotted for the job and even frugality (not wanting to “waste” product).

Since reading this, I have thought quite a lot about the idea of “contact time” and how we often misjudge its importance with not just cleaning, but with people in our lives.

One of the biggest game changers for managers is having consistent, ongoing one on ones (or “check-ins”) with their staff. This time is primarily meant to develop and maintain the relationship, but it also provides opportunity to touch base on work assignments and gives a venue for coaching.

When we work with managers, one of the first questions we ask is; “Are you doing regular one on ones with your staff?” The number one answer we hear is unfortunately, “No, I just don’t have the time.”

It’s complete folly to think we have relationships with people we don’t spend time with. Where there is no time, there is no communication and lack of communication is one of the top reasons that relationships bust up.

We would say you don’t have time NOT to spend with people who matter. Your family, your employees, whoever. If you really don’t have time for them, you shouldn’t expect any relationship dividends. People simply won’t follow, help out, step up or do more if you haven’t built the foundation for them to want to.

We are a little over halfway through the year and I have seen quite a few reminders about checking on your annual goals. I’d venture to say the goal you may not be paying attention to is the one that is most likely to lead to the others becoming a reality. Consider how you are doing regarding relationships with the people you say are important to you. Spouses, kids, employees, friends… anyone you would like to still be in communication with at the end of the year. If you aren’t doing as well as you would like, make that your top priority. Institute one on ones, time for daily interactions, date night, dedicated networking efforts, whatever it takes for you to shore up your relationships.

You can start slowly; with family, send a text letting your loved ones know you are thinking of them. With employees, take a different path to your desk each morning to interact with each of them. Catch your kids doing things right, instead of only admonishing them when they are wrong. Tell people you appreciate all they do and genuinely mean it. It doesn’t take much to turn the tide; people want to connect, so capitalize on that, even when it’s hard for you.

Start paying attention to contact time. Cleaning companies know that efficacy is reduced when it isn’t observed; the same goes for relationships.

So clean up your act when it comes to taking care of the people important to you. Unlike soap scum, they won’t wait.