Lead by Example

Do what I say, not what I do not only doesn’t work for raising kids, it doesn’t work for setting a culture within an office either. How many times have you heard someone say “we allow flexible working arrangements, but we keep losing staff who say we aren’t flexible enough.” Or, have you heard someone say, “I tell my staff to shut down but they complain that there is no separation between family time and work time.”

When I’m feeling especially courageous, the question I like to ask is what do you do? Do you ever work from home, or do you show up at the office every day? Do you ever leave early to make it to your kid’s game that starts at 5:00? Let’s face it, our staff looks at what we are doing to understand the real rules of the work place. Maybe you are in a different life stage with all your kids gone and out of the house, so you don’t have as many family events, but then look at who you reward with better salary increases and promotions. Is it the person who utilizes the flexible working arrangements but still gets all their work done, or is it the person still working in the office when you leave every day?

On emails, are you responding, or worse, sending out emails at all hours of the day? Do you review and respond to emails even while you are on vacation? Your staff is watching you, and you are setting expectations with others based on your behavior. I hear people justify their late-night emails by saying that I didn’t want to forget that thought or idea, but I don’t expect people to actually reply. My response is, don’t you know how to use the tools in your email program? Almost every email program has the ability to delay the delivery of an email. Write your email, just set it for delivery the next morning. If you don’t know how to use that feature, then you must know how to use the draft feature. Write the email and save it as a draft and make a habit of going through your drafts and sending them out every morning.

My final question is how many of you tell your staff to stay home if they are sick, but then come into the office yourself when you are sneezing and hacking? Your staff sees that behavior and emulates it. Worse, you’re probably getting them sick, and hitting productivity even harder than if you stayed at home and got what work you could get down from there. And with today’s remote working tools, that is pretty much everything.

So are you walking the walk or are you complaining that people don’t believe what you say?

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