I get how valuable they are to business growth, and I love their energy (well I love it when I actually get to experience it), but their inflated sense of self-importance is mind-blowing. Did you hear Jim talking about the one who kicked off because we wouldn’t expense his travel to the office for the mini town-halls Laura was doing with all staff? I mean, how often do you get to grill your CEO F2F in the room? And I got sent a bunch of flowers yesterday (yeah yeah secret admirer – not!), and one of the Z-Zoomers actually messaged me to see if she should put them in water. No, leave them to shrivel in the box till I’m next in.
I’ve also opened a can of worms with HR (again). Cass wants a head-to-head because I challenged having “be authentic” as one of the new hybrid working behavioural values in her workshop. I’m not sure whether she’s ever met one of my team, but I don’t think she’d like some of their authentic selves. I only employ them for the professional part of their authentic selves. To be awesome at the job I employ them to do. And represent us as a brand. They can leave all the other baggage at home. Ok, I know they are AT HOME but leave the other stuff outside of work. How can we talk with one brand voice and be what our customers want us to be if everyone’s allowed to run riot with self-authenticity? It’d be like saying to an army platoon, just turn up wearing what you want – they’d look like a bunch of mercenaries, not a well-trained unit.
Which leads me nicely to Mark’s group property email. I actually don’t care where my slightly weird team work from, so long as they carry on pumping out the awesome stuff they are doing. And if property is trying to judge who needs the office when I can’t tell them; our work just isn’t that predictable.
I know your team are settled into their three days a week, which, btw, I think it’s great that they arrived at that naturally without an exec issuing a dictate, simply because they like being with each other. But I reckon it’ll kick off when you tell them they can’t do it on Wednesday because the sales superheroes need Wednesday’s first refusal. $10 says your folks won’t suddenly reorganise themselves to be in on Mondays or Fridays instead. It proves the point; it’s near impossible for HR to talk empowerment and autonomy in the same breath as letting the revenue generators push others aside. Who’d willingly want to be in the office on a Friday anyway? Especially with summer around the corner.
Long ramble to say that I think we’ve just got to accept that the business needs perimeters that need establishing. Behavioural guardrails, I think Laura said. The problem is that the guardrails the kids use bowling are pretty damned rigid. So, I also think we need to quit with the fluff and call them boundaries. Lines that can’t be crossed. I think it’s intrinsically linked to everyone respecting each other and not taking liberties. Because people will you know. I’m totally cool with someone taking a day’s paid time off at short notice because their pet passed away. But if they try taking it as paid companionate leave, I’ve got a problem. Am I being a bitch? Call me out if I am.