Is Your Office Always Open?

Spring is here and grumblings related to work/life balance are spewing out of employees like pollen out of blooming trees. After all, who wouldn’t want to leave the office at a decent hour to enjoy a beautiful spring evening?

This week I heard a mouthful from Stella, a professional staff member who is upset when she has to work more than 40 hours a week. After all, she explained to me, she has a wedding to plan and wants to start a family.

Really? You’d think that someone at this level wouldn’t say something like this to a consultant in the first 90 seconds of a get-to-know-you staff evaluation meeting. What concerned me more, however, is the impact she is having on her co-workers. And Stella’s managers expect more from her, but don’t clearly communicate those expectations.

This is not a win-win formula.

Salaried employees who have the mentality of hourly workers can be problematic, especially when they have an attitude of entitlement. After all, even if they haven’t been designated as managers, other staff members look to them for direction.

This can present a quandary for leaders. Although you need your staff to be engaged in their work and to meet deadlines, you don’t want to appear draconian in terms of working long hours for weeks on end.

Don’t expect people to work late every day. Some leaders get snippy when their people leave at 5pm, but if their work is finished they shouldn’t have to stick around just for appearances. If people leave at 5 when activity is lighter, they’ll be more inclined to work longer hours when it’s busier. Every day can’t be an emergency.

Try to tell your staff about new deadlines or project deliverables earlier in the day rather than a half hour before they leave. Obviously, this isn’t practical all the time, but it will help your people plan their time better for the rest of the work day.

All of this boils down to communication. Regularly share your expectations with your staff, and they will appreciate it much more than you giving them “the look” when they leave at 5p. Tell them what you expect during “normal” times as well as when things are especially busy. They may not like what they hear, but at least there won’t be any surprises if you ask them to work late.

Have a great week!

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