This is a real conversation. I’ve heard from friends and clients in various forms but this one is priceless.
Director: Good morning! Glad to see you. How’d you like getting all those emails this weekend?
New employee: Well to be honest… they confused me and to be honest I didn’t like it. They made me feel like I’d forgotten something and I really try to be through in completing my work. They ended up making me feel like I wasn’t doing a good job.
Director: Oh…. I sent them to give you my ideas. It’s my way of getting things off my mind.
New employee: I didn’t know what you wanted me to do with them especially since most of them were covered in the work I’d already given you. I spent a great deal of time on what I gave you and my goal was to make sure you had everything you needed when you needed it. That way my time off is for me to rejuvenate.
Colleague overhearing the exchange later told the new employee: I heard what the Director told you. You’ll get used to her just sending you emails on the weekend and after hours. They’re her brain farts and she just sends them out as they come to her.
New employee: But what am I to do with them? Besides as a manager I’d never send out text messages during off hours that weren’t an emergency. Otherwise when do we get down time?
Colleague: Don’t worry about them. If you’ve covered the basics then rest of it doesn’t matter. The Director rarely comes back to them.
New employee: How do you know what’s really important and what’s not?
Colleague: Well… you just learn over time. Don’t worry you’re doing well. She really likes you.
Some of you may recognize this conversation because some portion of it you’ve experienced. There are two things wrong with the Director’s thinking.
Now I’m sure the Director is trying to be helpful and in fact if you read about a lot of CEO’s they talk about sending emails and text messages to their staffs at all hours of the day, night and weekends.
Too many say they don’t take vacation because when their always on. With our ability to IM, text and email at all hours there’s an expectation that when you get the message from you’re to respond. Yet, we know that everyone needs time downtime.
The myth of the executive burning the candle at both ends is just that. Arianna Huffington’s latest book Thrive details from a very personal point of view how her choices to live up to that myth nearly killed her. Now she is on a mission to educate others on the effects of sleep deprivation and no time off.
I love her comments that we take better care of our smartphones than we do ourselves.
We all know you have to turn off and recharge your smartphone so why do we think our bodies don’t deserve the same care.
As the HR manager at a plant I remember having to set standards for overtime so that we achieved a balance between production needs and making sure our employees were alert and able to work in a safely.
The second issue with the Director’s actions relate to the latest focus on employee engagement. For over 30 years we’ve known a mere 20% of a company’s entire workforce (top to bottom) is highly engaged. The rest are somewhere between moderately to fully disengaged. Let me translate… engagement is code word for productivity.
So if 80% of your management team is disengaged and is doing things to cause their staff to be moderately to fully disengage what’s that doing to your bottom line and competitive edge in the marketplace.
Managers who are unable or unwilling to set priorities and allow their staff to take some recuperative downtime are contributing to an erosion of your company’s profitability.
There’s a simple fix.
Here are 5 things you can do to thrive in the face of bad management.
- Set a compelling vision for yourself and make sure you’re in sync with the promises made to your customers in return for their business?
- Clearly communicate the priorities – when the day/week is done what are the few things we must deliver on (OBTW its not just the dollars. It’s how you made your customers feel.)
- Managers need to fully delegate responsibility and accountability for completing the work. If your manager hasn’t then you need to talk to them. For you and your employees to thrive and produce outstanding results you have to know what’s expected and be self-sufficient. If you’re choking at the thought of having this conversation then find someone who can help you practice it and support you in getting this done.
- Follow up in a timely manner. – how does your boss and you know when ALL employees are on target not just your top or bottom performers.
- Ensure follow through – when the work leaves you or your department how is it received? Does it help the next group perform well or does it cause them to create workaround processes?
Completing this simple performance analyst can uncover the impact of your leadership style (not your title but how you influence others).
If you’re either the Director or the new employee it is important to have the conversation about priority setting. If not, you’re doing a disservice to yourself and your company. My suggestion, figure out how to have the conversation and get clear on the priorities. It’s the first step to higher productivity.