Are You TOO Accessible?

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Set Realistic Expectations For Your Team To Encourage A Good Work Ethic and Support Their Personal Lives

Little red notifications tell us we have unread email, unread comments, a new follower, or an important update that must be installed.

It’s not enough anymore that we can send a letter electronically in seconds. Now there are little red numbers of pressure, enticing recipients to read, and in some cases respond, within minutes.

We live in a world of instant access, 24/7 deliverability, and constant connectedness.

Employees rarely share the same investment in a business as the business owner and thus have very different expectations when it comes to accessibility.

Business owners are charged with setting the standards and access expectations for their crew, which can be tricky when surrounded by a steady stream of performance-enhancing technologies. But what’s the best way to develop and assess accessibility expectations midst the ever-flowing stream of enticing connectivity applications?

So what ARE your expectations, anyway?

Define what it is you want out of your team. Do you want them to be connected all the time? Do you need them to answer their phones after hours? Is the expectation for them to respond to emails right away, or can they wait until normal business hours?

Speaking of business hours, do you wish for employees to work whenever they are needed or strictly for eight hours a day? A business owner is tied to his or her job which can often becomes intertwined with home life.

SEE ALSO: 8 Tips On Developing A Happy, Productive Team

Employees, however, need direction on how much commitment they are expected to provide to their organization. This can vary from group to group, especially if you have various levels of leadership in your organization; the key is communicating a clear and consistent set of expectations for each group.

Awareness is Key!

Once you’ve nailed down the access expectations for your staff, stick to them. There will always be something to do, especially in the small business world.

It can be very tempting to open your emails and shoot off a few quick replies before you go to bed. Doing so creates the perception you are available at 11:30PM and, in some cases, that you expect others to be, as well.

Be aware of what you’re doing and when you’re doing it. Make it a priority to cut yourself off when you’re potentially encroaching on someone’s personal time and be aware that your emails communicate more than just the written word.

Even stars need sleep.

Every once in a while you will find a team member who works around the clock. Emails will be answered regardless of time or day, phone calls will be taken during dinner, and texts will be returned in the wee early hours of morning.

These people often have a strong work ethic and want nothing more than to be responsive and accountable. There is a drive to complete work as it comes…but don’t forget, these star players are still people. They still deserve personal time.

SEE ALSO: Organize Your Business By Harnessing the Powers of Automation and Mobility

To change the expectations for them and create an unspoken assumption they will always answer is almost to punish them for their dedication. Remember, your expectations were laid out already. Do not change them simply because someone takes it upon themselves to go above and beyond now and then. Try to maintain the standard or you risk  burning out your star.

Weak signals growing in popularity?

Some employees won’t comply with your availability and accessibility expectations. They may cite perfectly legitimate reasons, such as no smart phone, limited remote workplace knowledge, or strong opinions against working more than eight hours a day.

Try to listen to these issues with an open mind. One or two non-compliant team members can be persuaded with training or standard accountability measures, but if your entire staff is trending on the burnout side of the spectrum, you may have a problem.

Take the time to listen to your team, reassess, and adjust your expectations when necessary.

Not all technology helps!

Yes, it’s possible to wear your phone on your wrist like a watch and answer it at a fancy dinner party like Morphius from The Matrix. This does not mean it is necessary, especially if the costs cannot be recouped through enhanced or increased productivity.

Dreaming about options and possibilities can be fun, but remember to keep your feet (and budget) grounded in only what is really needed to take your organization to the next level. Setting up a mobile app for your staffing schedule probably isn’t a good use to technology for a staff of three.

Be selective, inquisitive, and cognizant of your business’ technology. Sometimes too much of a good thing is, well, too much.

 

It can be a beautiful thing to look at your mobile device and know your quarterly statement, weather, sports, and trending topics within seconds. Ensure this beauty doesn’t take on a dark side by setting clear accessibility expectations for your staff and exemplifying the behaviors you wish to see whenever possible.

RELATED: 8 Things Your Employees Want You To Know

Image: iStockphoto

About The Author

Jennifer Ludwigsen is a freelance writer with a colorful variety of skills gained from her time as a U.S. Army medic, mother of two, and ingenious life-lesson learner. She currently works for the largest medical group in Illinois in multiple administrative capacities, serving both the executive team and the vast practitioner and patient population. Jennifer has leveraged technology in multiple facets of her life to enhance her corporate day job, evening parenting job, and late-evening freelancing job. Connect with Jennifer on TwitterLinkedIn, and her website, Concentrated Creativity.