Leaders: Give Your Employees the Weekend Off
We live in a 24/7 world. Our wonderful smartphones tap us into Facebook to keep up with friends, LinkedIn to stay fresh professionally, sports alerts to keep up with our teams, text notifications when we get pinged.
And e-mails from the boss about stuff to get done pronto. Oops.
All the other stuff is great. We connect with those we love constantly and can share the fun parts of our lives with our network. And view their shares. And comment (with some snark if you so desire!)
But the pings from the boss are, to be kind, usually less welcome outside of work.
Rest and Restoration are Critical to Quality Work
Research confirms that downtime regularly interspersed into our working lives raises our energy and ability to focus. Quantity may suffer a bit (not necessarily true!) but quality goes up well in excess of the “lost time.”
As a leader of people, you need to ensure that your charges get the rest they need to keep them performing at a high level.
We understand the impulse to fire off individual and team e-mails in the evening or over the weekend. You get a message from your boss with a request, and you immediately share it with those who will have to help you respond. This does two things, one you are actively choosing to do, and the other that you don’t realize you are doing.
- First, your impulse is to alert your team so that they know what is coming. This is reasonable. People hate negative surprises, especially on Monday morning during re-entry.
- Your second impulse is less generous. Are you are pushing the request off your plate so that you can get on with enjoying your own weekend? Did you realize that might be one motivation?
As a leader, you must protect your people. You have the responsibility to hold back some of the natural stress of the workplace, keeping it on yourself so that your followers can rest and recharge.
Yes, your weekend must be a little more stressful so that their weekends are less so.
Just another burden of leadership that you must bear alone? Not necessarily. You just have to manage expectations ahead of time with all your co-workers.
How to strike the balance between rest and response?
Start with managing your boss’ expectations. That position is the source of most stress-inducing weekend lightning bolts, so share your mindset about how important you see weekends (and evenings, if possible) as restorative times for your people. Your boss and other superiors have permission to get stuff off their plate by sending it to you. But they must understand that they may not see action on it until early in the following work week if your staff needs to deal with the issue.
If you still need to get the issue off your mind, draft the e-mail you need to send, and keep it in draft until Sunday night. Set a system up with your team where they agree to a team weekend communication protocol:
- True urgencies are shared immediately. Discuss ahead of time what those are.
- Less urgent issues that it would be better to know about before Monday morning are shared Sunday night. Again, discuss what those would be.
- All other issues are held until Monday morning, when restored and recharged employees are ready and willing to tackle them.
- Employees have permission to challenge urgencies and negotiate how the new requests fit into the priority list you all had Friday at 5 pm.
You can give employees the weekend off, without stressing your own weekend out unduly. Set up a team-based system on which you can all rely to be responsive to colleagues and get your jobs done to the quality level you all wish to achieve. And manage the expectations of people who may inadvertently toss alerts into your system and expect an immediate response.
Managing teams is always a challenge. You need to generate great outcomes, keep people engaged, and balance their need to have a good life outside of work. This is always a work in progress!
If you want further insights into how other people have accomplished this balancing act, contact Brooke or Dave to have a conversation about it.