Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Business Professionals Know When to Quit

This is personal. It's about Very Important people who work on Very Important projects and assume that because they're working now, you should be too. Anyone come to mind? Someone who, say, demands a colleague's feedback at 8pm on a Powerpoint presentation that he finished at 5:30pm?

I understand the "rules" of business engagement have changed now that we all carry cell phones and can reach business associates 24/7. My opinion: because we can does not mean that we should.

While employment case law from California to Connecticut is piling up, I suspect it will be several years before the courts arrive at a standard of compensation for FLSA-exempt and non-exempt employees who are expected to make or take calls outside of "regular" business hours. (Although Brazil beat the US to it, chances are one good class-action suit will speed things up here in the states.) In the meantime, I propose a little good old-fashioned common sense.
1. Try to remember that a paycheck rewards an employee for a job. It does not actually buy the employee. In other words, in every 24-hour period, there should be at least 12 hours when the employee is free of work. Including the projects the VP of Self-Importance is working on.

2. Don't underestimate the power of passive-aggressive behavior. If you are demanding and expect colleagues to drop everything for you and your oh-so important project, don't be surprised if their cooperation drops off and business recommendations are not forthcoming.

3. Read the obituaries. Notice that people die daily. If you want your colleagues to attend your funeral and say nice thing about you one day when it's your turn, perhaps you should reconsider the importance of that Powerpoint presentation.
Call me crazy: I like to think we've evolved to the point that a person can have a job, a cell phone, and a life.


What got me started? A demanding customer who called our home phone after leaving a voicemail on the work cell phone, which was turned off. (Hint, hint.) Said customer was not only Very Important, he was obviously Special. In his own estimation. This is why I practice Jedi mind tricks in my spare time. I do hope he calls again. I could use some more practice.

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