Put Structure Around Your Team Interactions

I’ve written before about how I structure my weeks and given you tips for a productive day. My friend Chris grounded that by talking about how high performance is a choice.

If you’ve read my other posts, you know the first thing I put on my calendar is vacation.

That’s all great since I work mostly by myself, but what about if you have a team relying on you for things? Can you still follow my advice?

Some of you may be saying that none of this stuff really works for you because you have people working for you and you pride yourself on giving them the freedom to work when they want to.

If they want to work weekends that’s totally fine; however, it sucks that you need to be around for them when they’ve decided to work. You’re the boss and that’s a sacrifice you have to make.

Stop that and start blocking out your time

No, it’s not a sacrifice you have to make, at least not regularly. Before you can stop it though, you need to make some changes.

1. Put emergency only time on the calendar.

One habit that’s critical to actually getting work done is to plan your week. I only take calls for new projects on Tuesday mornings because taking them randomly during the week pretty much guarantees I won’t get stuff done.

Start by working with the calendar that’s shared with your staff. Block out emergency only times — these are the blocks of time when your staff can only contact you in the case of an emergency. Such as, they launched a client site and it’s all burning down. The servers are going on strike and the clients have already unleashed the hounds to kill.

If they contact you during this time it’s because there was no other option at all and they actually needed you.

I already do this with clients. I let them know if they call me after work hours or on the weekends the cost for me to pick up the phone starts at double my usual rate (which makes it $400) and only gets higher based on how annoyed I am.

2. Put freely available time on the calendar.

Next, block out the time when your staff is free to get in touch about anything, even if they just want to chat about stuff that has nothing to do with work.

3. Plan some prep time.

Plan time each week where you can make sure that people have what they need. Yes you want to let them work whenever they want, but you should also be getting that same privilege. Setting aside an hour a week to meet is not unreasonable in any fashion. It’s 1 out of 168 hours that you’re asking them to be in a certain place at a certain time.

I’d say that’s a minimum requirement to actually be an effective employee/contractor.

Set aside a once a week call time to talk about the projects and make sure that they have everything they need. If they don’t and they need stuff from you put it on your list to get to them before you’re done for the week.

Expect more from them

It’s also time to start treating members of your team like adults. If they are always calling you on weekends because they need stuff for a project, that’s actually their problem.

They didn’t plan ahead to make sure that they were prepared. They just figured that it didn’t matter because they could simply call you and you’d put aside the time again to cover for them.

Stop doing it. Yup, it’s going create some pain at first because you’ve trained them to not prepare, but trust me — the re-training will pay off. Train them to plan ahead, then hold them accountable if they don’t plan and let a project take too long.

If they can’t get on board, then maybe they were a bad hire in the first place and it’s time to find someone new.

Stop sacrificing for their poor planning

It’s time for you to get in control of your schedule. Teach your team to plan better. Teach them that you have blocks of time when they really can’t get in touch with you unless things are burning.

Give them the tools they need to be prepared to work and expect them to prepare for the times you aren’t around.

Your job as the business owner is not to sacrifice everything. It’s to help employees become the best they can be, and that takes training.

photo credit: dunechaser cc

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