Stop Your Late-Night Email Cycles

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?

Be a Leader – Increase Your EI

Do you want to be a Leader, a good one? Emotional Intelligence (EI) is essential for success and should be in your development plan.  There are a few who see the word emotion and begin to roll their eyes.  Who wants to add emotions to the professional realm?  Guess what? A leader should. This isn’t gender based. After all, who is more likely to succeed, someone who responds to stress with shouting and impulsive decisions, or one who can calmly and firmly assess the situation and manage the circumstances?
Diagram of emotional intelligence

EI is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions and those of the people around you.  It’s not manipulation, it’s understanding and caring. Those with a high skill set of EI know what they’re feeling. They understand what their emotions mean, and how these emotions can affect other people, and they apply that understanding to those around them.

How do you develop your EI? Firstly, be emotionally aware. Make an effort to pay attention to your emotions and behaviors, your actions and reactions. Consider how they affect you and those around you. This isn’t easy especially in the middle of a meeting when bad news is delivered. Take a pause and evaluate your reactions in front of others. Govern your responses.

Hold yourself accountable. Being in control of your emotions and moods is a basic responsibility, especially as a leader. When you can regulate your responses, you avoid making knee jerk decisions in the heat of the moment. This becomes easier the more you allow for pauses and in turn you control your state of mind.

Lastly, be confident in yourself and your team. In tough situations if your doubting you and/or your team it shows. Master the inner critic, be decisive while empowering your team in that same manner. Those with strong EI are typically respectful of others. Rather than focusing on your own success, help others develop and shine by respecting their strengths and talents. Remember that to give respect is to get respect.

People with high EI are usually successful in most things they do. Why? Because they have a deep understanding of self and they make others feel good about themselves. Building strong EI will not only impact your leadership skill set, it will add value to your life. Don’t strip emotion away for the sake of an ideal of what is ‘professional’, it’s a balance, after all we’re all human and to be human is to be emotional.

What are you going to do to up your EI over the next week?
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Top 10 Ways to be a Good Leader/Manager

As a leader and manager for over the last 10 years these are my top 10 ways for being a good one.

  1. Get your hands dirty.
    • Know what your people are doing and what their grind is like.  You can’t empathize if you have no idea, and they know it.
  2. Listen.
    • Don’t lead all the meetings, spice it up and have others lead.  All meetings shouldn’t be updates and lectures (boring!!).Leadership
  3. Ask questions and go back to #2.
    • Gain insight and knowledge by seeking out the hard questions/answers.  Don’t seek to answer them straight away, no one likes the spin zone in which the question never gets fully addressed (people are not stupid).
  4. Empower your team.
    • Let your team drive their work and decisions, while supporting them, win or fail.  No one likes a boss over the shoulder every step of the way, but they do appreciate the one who is a phone call away.
  5. Be fearless.
    • Don’t let every little dip in a relationship with clients dictate your mood to our team.  It will all work out and showing a positive spirit in the face of adversity will drive morale higher versus killing it.
  6. Keep your people at the top of your priorities.
    • Should be self-evident.  People make the world go round. If the wrong person isn’t right for the job perform them out, they affect the people who are right for the job.
  7. Develop something from scratch.
    • It gives a sense of pride and accomplishment, leaders need it too!
  8. Allow personal goals for your people.
    • All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  Goals shouldn’t all just be corporate ones, refer back to #6.
  9. Make mistakes and don’t hide from them.
    • Mistakes happen, hopefully not costly ones that can’t be remedied.  Don’t sweep it under the rug, play in it and learn from it and share what you or the team as learned.  Refer back to #5 and #4.
  10. Break the rules.
    • If it adds value to a person or a project and is strategically sound, break the rule.  Refer back to #6 and if someone is pulling in more hours than usual and adding value, give them the day off outside of the vacation schedule to recharge and let them know you care and appreciate them.

Any additional ways for leaders/managers to be good? Please let me know in the Comments below.  It’s good to stay at the top of your skill set as a leader/manager.

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More Than a Paycheck

I came across an article this week that really spoke to me (see the link below).  In summary it’s about your work being more than a paycheck.

What Employees Appreciate More Than a Paycheck | Fox Business.

How can company’s and manager’s really empower their people?  What makes work enjoyable and meaningful to you?

I enjoyed this article by Steve Tobak, and propose a few additional pieces for consideration:

Build social capital by employee engagement – Give people the opportunity to be heard, seriously heard.  It’s a culture of inclusion and many company’s and manager’s miss this key piece.  How many meetings have you been to recently, where the leader of the meeting lectures the entire meeting time, but states they want questions and interaction? Are they really facilitating that culture? People are smart they can spot in-sincereness a mile away.  Allow a culture, where, as a leader you are not the star of the show – support your people and allow them to network and build camaraderie. Value positions at all levels.

Invest & development of employee skill sets – This doesn’t mean that you have to invest budget all the time to further development of your people.  Be creative, taking opportunities for mentoring / coaching programs.  Free training (i.e., You-Tube, Webinar’s) and develop lunch-n-learns where people can share lessons learned and new tricks of the trade.  If you can invest with your budget, then do it.  Everyone wins, as the company gains a higher skilled employee; the employee obtains the value of the company investment of their growth = loyalty.

imagesAs a follower of Marie Forleo (www.marieforleo.com) , and yes I drink her cool-aid and have developed that fire in my soul from her mantra too, ‘build a business and a life you love’.  Sometimes, work however is work, in order to earn a living and enjoy those personal gratification’s that only earning money can allow, maybe that’s the life you love.  New businesses are tough in this economy, and if you can support a new business and throw your heart in it and give it the courageous try, I say DO IT! None the less, in the end it’s live the life you love that matters most, whether your the CEO, An Assistant or A Domestic Goddess (Maybe your all three!).

What did you think of this article and/or blog? Is your day job more than a paycheck? Are you living the life you love? What advise would you share with others on this topic?

I look forward to the discussion.  Comment below & Share.