One thing I love about respect is that you cannot buy it, you have to earn it. Its definitely a two way street. Fear on the other hand is a one way street ONLY and most certainly short lived. So why do leaders call upon the good old threat to control and keep you in line? (1) Because they are disrespectful…selfish; and (2) To push/ test your boundaries. Rest assured you can and should challenge any such threats thrown your way, especially if they are unreasonable and a breach of workplace practices.
Last Friday I had the pleasure of a manager calling me at 10.00pm at night! WTF?? This guy clearly had no respect nor boundaries. Of course he got my voice mail because I was having far too much fun with my family on MY OWN TIME but it still annoyed me because I took the stupid Blackberry home and saw the message the next day. The new rule is I don’t take the stupid Blackberry home and the stress levels are much lower. Forget about other people’s expectations, lay your own boundaries. If you still get threats, arm yourself and become very knowledgeable on employment law in your state/country. There are both statutory and legislative obligations required of an employer and you will be surprised how little most employers actually know about workplace practices and/or their obligations under such practices.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m the biggest supporter of using email as a means of communicating in the workplace and sure there are many benefits to email communication so long as you define the T&C’s of how such email traffic will be managed. In the corporate world it’s all about managing expectations which in reality is seldom laid out in black and white. This is why I swear by, and strongly advocate transparency and accountability. It sure as hell beats ambiguity and lack of direction.
Here are some tips on how to use email as an effective communication tool in the workplace:
Define the T&C’s for any work directive via email. Items to consider are:
- Who is accountable for delivery/completing the task? A group or an individual. Who takes ownership and is therefore accountable.
- What is required? What resources will be available to get the job done? For example: You might need an extra pair of hands, is this in the budget?
- Why? Answering the why is very important as it puts the task into perspective. By taking the time to explain the why, shows authenticity and gives meaning to the task. Its worth your investment as you reap the rewards of staff showing more engagement/willingness to complete the task.
- When does it need to be done by? Be realistic about the deadline. I’m all for stretch targets but not at the expense of burning your staff out!
Always, always think of your audience and use clear and concise language. You do not want your email misinterpreted by a newly appointed staff member, an apprentice who is still learning the ropes or if your staff member is from a cultural background, you do not want to offend them.
To being clear, transparent and accountable!
If time is so precious, why do we keep allowing others to take it from us?
We negotiate time for virtually everything in life from our employment contracts to our relationships with our partners, our children, the house chores….BUT how often do we just allow others to selfishly take OUR time as a result of failing to negotiate the one thing we cannot buy-back or rewind?
In the perfect world we would manage our time according to what we value the most but in reality the need to support our families over-rides our ability to fulfil our desires (most of the time). So we try to negotiate our work-life-balance. Organisations preach it, most HR policies echo flexible working conditions…..but in reality even the permanent part-timer who supposedly signed-off on a core roster….gets slugged with extra hours. So what does one do? Negotiate your time to suit your needs/desires. It might sound like a cliché but it’s really not. You can negotiate your time to suit YOU. As we become more and more time poor, we need to set the record straight in order for the repeat offender(s) to realise that they pushed our boundaries. We need to push-back on these repeat offenders. Whether it’s your employer, employee, partner or child. If they really value you, then they will respect you and your time.
That was my challenge today. As the tasks kept rolling in one by one, the blood pressure was rising and my judgmental nature kicked into overdrive!
I thought to myself well I have a couple of options here…..I could brace myself for one of my mini meltdowns….I could just say f…it! or I could change my attitude, stop being judgmental and just accept that not everything will get done.
More often than not we get overwhelmed and bombarded with tasks from our superiors and BELIEVE that their expectation is that all the tasks will get done BUT you would be surprised at the number of times the issue of accepting that it is impossible to do lies with us and not the boss.
Give yourself a break and adjust your attitude towards your own expectations to get things done. Believe it or not the tasks will still be there for you to do tomorrow (unless you are lucky enough to delegate or negotiate a new time-frame).
To staying calm and being positive!
To some organisations urgent means within 24 hours, to another 2 hours or right this minute. Unless organisations take the time to clearly define what ‘urgent’ means in their day to day operations we will continue to build unnecessary pressure and unrealistic expectations on our staff. If I was working in the ER ward I wouldn’t even question the word urgent but in the corporate arena……most urgent requests are surrounded by absolute nonsense. Take the time to consider the task at hand and its sense of priority. Keep it in perspective, be fair, explain your version of urgent and you will have a much more engaging workforce AND more importantly things will get done!
It’s not often that you come across great coffee and equally exceptional service, so I have to share with you all…….if you are ever in Perth City near London Court, you must go to Mini Espresso! The coffee is so good and the staff are down to earth and friendly. I just love their energy. Mini Espresso you deserve a customer service award!!