Many of us have been in the situation where we realize something for work after working hours. No time like the present, we let our smart phones do the walking and send our teams that late night email. It seems harmless enough but is it?
A rare email after hours is harmless enough, however if it’s more habit i.e., several days in a week, a month; you’re hurting your team. Why you do you ask? Simply put you’re driving a 24/7 type of culture in your company. Your team will feel obligated to be “on” at all times versus the specific busy times.
If late night emails are common behavior for you, you’re missing the opportunity to get some distance from work, and distance that is critical to a fresh perspective you need as the leader, while you are denying this same opportunity to your team. Let’s face it when the boss is working, the team feels like they should be working. All it takes is that one meeting where a few in the group voice, “when we were emailing last night…” or “we completed this over the weekend…”. This causes pressure for those who were not involved to be involved. Those start fearing, I will be poorly evaluated as a key member of the team/company if I’m not seen as committed as others. This is how the company culture begins to change.
Experiments show that we need downtime, our bodies crave it. In fact if we don’t get that down time, adverse symptoms will start to show including, stress, insomnia, depression. Being “always on” hurt employee effectiveness long term. When employees are constantly monitoring their email after work hours, they are missing out on key down time that they need. Employees can never disconnect when they’re always reaching for their devices to see if you’ve emailed, don’t add to their device addiction – be opposite and foster a better culture and expectation. I had one boss, who held this conversation with me, and it stayed. ‘Lets work hard during the day, then enjoy your evening because you’ve earned it. It will all be here for you the next day don’t worry, it’s a never ending cycle.’ It’s like the old saying work hard, play hard – that’s the work-life balance we all crave.
Creativity, inspiration, and motivation are your competitive advantage, but they are also depletable resources that need to be recharged. Incidentally, this is also true for you, so it’s worthwhile to examine your habits as a leader and ensure your not hurting your team/employees. A few helpful tips, if you are going to email at night – send it to draft and send in the morning. Resist the all appealing ‘send’ button. Or if your email client has a rule option, set up rules that emails from you after x time and before x time, be sent at 8:00am. Lastly, ensure your consistent with your employees by not rewarding them on late night emails and their expectations of an answer from you after hours. It’s important that if there is a dire situation or issue an employee knows they can reach you by phone.
Walk the walk and set the standard leaders, your teams will thank you and you’ll have in return more effective and satisfied employees. I know I have had some of the best teams because of this one mantra I’ve held as a leader and manager. Granted some will continue the bad habit, you need to push as a leader this is not your expectation and work with your team to get them back to the work day productivity or reassess your teams assignments.
What are some ways you can influence a change in your teams to stop the late night email cycle?