Recently, I read a post from a business owner who was asking human resources professionals for advice about an employee who requested not to be contacted after work hours or on weekends, except in the event of an emergency.
He explained that he “made it clear” to the employee that she is not required to respond to anything not urgent after hours or on weekends, but affirmed his “authority to send emails to their work email address for items that may cross his mind after hours so he doesn’t forget. He sent this employee an email over the weekend. She “politely and respectfully” reminded him of her request. “I really would like my time and space respected during off-hours.” He pushed back. She pushed back.
“You may not like me setting boundaries but this is important to me. If you respected me and my time, you would understand that an employee should be allowed to have a reprieve.”
His perspective was: “As the boss and owner of the company, I should be the one who sets operations and not the employee… She is setting (or changing) the business guidelines and protocol, and it does not sit well with me.”
Many people advised this leader to let her walk, his way or the highway, and he was very much in agreement at the time I read and responded to his post. This advice and his source of discomfort were very much coming from ego rather than empathy.
Here was my response:
“Look, everyone is doing the best they can to cope in difficult times. This requires MORE self-care than ever. The only solution isn’t to send emails anyway because it works for you and she can just opt to ignore them. She obviously has notifications on to deal with emergencies, so she will get every email, and even though she may not be required to respond to non-emergencies, she still may feel compelled by a sense of duty and obligation that adds pressure (self-imposed, yes) when she needs to be disconnected. Need – as in, a physical need to manage stress for overall well being. By insisting on your way and not respecting her boundaries, you are communicating that what she needs is less important than what you want. Self-care = putting your needs over someone else’s wants. Selfish = putting your wants over someone else’s needs. What kind of leader do you want to be? Can’t you create the drafts when you think of them and send them off Monday morning? Yes. You can. If you don’t value her, let her go. If you do value her, respect her boundaries. Be the leader she needs.”
He responded, “Fair and well put.”
While he was in ego at the time of posting, he was also open to really hearing other ways to look at this problem.
I’m not sure how he’ll handle it, but I am glad that he was open.
He said, “I want to do what is fair and just, which is why I came to this group! Thank you!!”
At that moment, this boss/manager had a choice to move into conscious leadership. He was able to do so because his intention was to be fair to his employee. He was open to guidance and new self-awareness, and if he does decide to accommodate his employee, he will have moved from ego to empathy and compassion, which is empathy in action.
As a leader, you have multiple points throughout their days, weeks, months, and years that give you the opportunity to make similar choices.
Like forming any habit, and what I love about habits, is that once a habit is formed, doing that thing becomes a compulsion rather than a choice. You are pulled to do it, rather than having to push. However, that time in between the self-awareness of the habit that needs to develop and the time that the habit is developed, the push is a challenge for most people.
Join me for a free online masterclass on Wednesday, September 30th at 2:00 PM EDT to find out more about how you can create more speed and ease during that in-between period so that you can become more consistently conscious as a leader.
What would you have advised this leader to do? What would you do?
If you’re dedicated to making a meaningful impact in the world through your work, I invite you to join my LinkedIn group for conscious leaders. Join C3 now to be a part of future free events, watch replay recordings of our past events, interact with the conscious community, speakers, and experts, and have your chance to share your expertise by becoming a future guest panelist for upcoming events. Remember that without you, meaningful change is not possible.
Karen Huller is the creator of the Corporate Consciousness Ripple Blueprint and author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days. She founded Epic Careering, a leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, in 2006.
While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. Her solutions incorporate breakthroughs in neuroscience, human performance optimization, bioenergetics, and psychology to help leaders accelerate rapport, expand influence, and elevate engagement and productivity while also looking out for the sustainability of the business and the planet.
Mrs. Huller was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot.
She was an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business She is an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA) where some of her students won the 2018 national YEA competition, were named Ernst & Young’s America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award.
She is board secretary for the Upper Merion Community Center and just finished serving as Vice President of the Gulph Elementary PTC, for which she received recognition as a Public Education Partner and Promoter from the Upper Merion Area Education Association. She lives in King of Prussia with her husband, two daughters, and many pets, furry, feathered, and scaly.