With the amazing technological advances of the past two decades, pervasive connectivity has become commonplace for the majority of employees. Thinking back even just 20 years ago, who could have imagined the access to information we carry around every day in our pockets and purses?
Now that we have reached critical mass in adoption of mobile-friendly internet access technologies like smart phones and tablets, we have to adapt our way of operating. This goes beyond the typical BYOD discussion of how to secure a network, how to control data that is shared across multiple form factors, and the unprecedented access to employees at any time or place.
As a business owner, I manage a distributed team of writers, SEOs, PPC analysts and marketers. Without the ability to have traditional face-to-face meetings on a daily basis, technology is a crucial cog in my operations wheel. It would be easy to fire off messages any time, expecting a quick or even immediate response.
But I don’t operate that way. Hiding behind a device can make us forget that we are dealing with real people on the other end. The onus is on the leadership team to build a culture that respects the individual, and not just the success of the company. If we truly want to manage teams of productive and happy employees, we need to keep the following in mind throughout:
Build Ground Rules Up Front
Expectations are like gold when it comes to managing teams. If you work in a large company, your IT group has likely already established a BYOD policy. I completely agree that this policy is needed, but this is built strictly to support security and technology requirements in most organizations. I have yet to see a BYOD policy that extends beyond the appropriate use of the devices to the people using those same technologies.
It’s time for the C-suite to get serious about building BYOD standards based on Human Resources needs. This is not a new concept; the vast majority of enterprises have already taken it upon themselves to build a social media policy. These policies focus on behavioral standards, but primarily what is and is not acceptable behavior when interacting with customers and prospects on social networks.
If HR can regulate how technologies are not to be used, say to browse certain off-color websites, then they can absolutely step forward and set ground rules for communication practices. And it is high time they start to get serious about it.
Allow Employees to Set Reasonable Boundaries
Even in organizations that take the time to set expectations appropriately, there needs to be some wiggle room. Every person is unique, and what works for one individual may be off limits for others. There would be no reasonable way to cover all use cases with an HR-focused BYOD policy. This is where the judgment of the manager or executive needs to come into play.
If you want your team to be productive, take the time to truly understand what motivates them and what drags them down. Especially in the case of introverts, constant interruptions and distractions can really throw them off their game.
Just to be clear — I am in no way advocating that you let them run over you. On the contrary, I believe that your management style should be malleable. Just as you aim to personalize messages to prospects and customers, it should be a reasonable request to adjust your management style when it improves job satisfaction and performance.
All of this can be addressed proactively by having an open conversation about what works for each employee. In some cases, you will have to dig in about a few things, but you should also be willing to bend on others.
Encourage Time 'Off the Grid'
While connectivity can empower teams to collaborate in ways never imagined before, there is a limit to how much access most people can handle.
Now think about this — if employees can leave the office but are expected to be on call, when can they take time to recharge?
Assuming you want to oversee teams that excel and are efficient (and really, who doesn't?), this is more than merely a nice gesture. It is a mandatory requirement. Having time to not collaborate is equally important as working in a team environment.
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