Lost your BlackBerry somewhere along St. Charles Avenue (you know you had it with you at Popeye’s…) during your visit to New Orleans for Mardi Gras? You might come back to more efficient employees because of it…at least that’s what you could take away from this recent Harvard Business Publishing article.
In his post about helping employees choose by eliminating choices, blogger Peter Bergman includes an anecdote about an employer who wanted to get his employees in the practice of going to each other instead of him (presumably, I’m hoping, to encourage collaboration and innovation and not so he could play endless hours of peaceful, uninterrupted Facebook Scrabble), so he took a three-week vacation and didn’t check his email or voicemail once. Ah, of course.
I guess you could look at this move two ways: As either an inspired, Mr. Miyagi-style approach to management (and possibly the ultimate testament to your faith in your employees)…or as an irresponsible, self-serving move that your employees could potentially view as abandonment and that risks alienating them.
I vote for the former. At first read, I felt bad for the employees who were Hansel-and-Greteled while their manager went AWOL to enjoy a luxurious, stress-free vacation (I’m not going to begrudge anyone a well-deserved vacation, but not checking your voicemail for almost a month? What if there was an emergency?)
At the same time, a truly effective manager would ensure his employees are self-sufficient enough to effectively overcome workplace dilemmas on their own, right?
Ultimately, the way your employees react likely depends on the culture you’ve built. For this particular boss, his experiment worked for the best: “When he eventually picked up his voicemail,” Bergman says, “he noticed something interesting. The first messages were all asking him what they should do. The last messages were all telling him what they eventually did do.”
But is this kind of tough love approach too risky at a time when companies can’t afford many mistakes? Or is it just the impetus employees need to start thinking creatively and being more innovative with their problem-solving? What’s your take on all of this?Related
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