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As I was scrolling through social media on my lunch break a few days ago, I came across a feed that struck me.

“Some of my employees are getting upset. I work about 100 hours per week sometimes working past midnight at our office sending emails. My employees are complaining that they get 10-20 emails from me in the morning and it’s overwhelming. Is this acceptable, if not what should I do, I am busy with meetings and customers during the day.”

This post was screaming “HELP ME!” in such a big way that I had a hard time passing it over without a second take.

The bottom line is, if there’s work to be done, the work just needs to get done.  If you’re a manager or a business owner, you may work some crazy long hours, or have a strange schedule.  So if getting to your inbox in the evening is the only acceptable means at this very moment, then so be it.

However, before you take that and run, the keywords there are “at this very moment.”

Taking a deeper look at this message, you see a man who is working too many hours, has little (if any) personal time or rest, is struggling with delegation, struggling with his team, and is lacking some systems and protocols in the business.

There are two things that strike a chord with me on this matter.  One is leadership, and the other is systems and processes.

Leadership

Why would a team feel overwhelmed by a load of emails in the morning?

  • Isn’t their job to manage the tasks within those emails?  So they’re upset over doing their job?
  • Or are they feeling guilty because their fearless leader is working nights and weekends and they’re not?
  • Or maybe yet, they find too many of those emails to be loaded with urgency, and they don’t quite understand how to prioritize or delegate the duties?

A strong leader will have set expectations on the deliverables and will have hired a strong competent team that understands their duties.

Certainly setting priorities and timelines is a necessity at both the leader’s standpoint and that of the team members, but if communications and protocols aren’t made clear, it will cause bottlenecks and drive morale down.

Systems & Processes

Which this brings us to the real culprit: lack of systems and processes.

If each employee is getting 10-20 urgent emails in the morning, getting to the root of the problem is the only way to resolve the fires, to begin with.  Why is there so many urgent or delayed communications?

Many small businesses underestimate the power of having a solid Standard Operating Procedure in place.  Partly because it’s not cheap to have them developed.  But it’s not easy either.  It is a time-consuming process on the front-end, but it pays off 100 times over in the end.

Systems will:

  • eliminate challenges before they even become a problem
  • reduce communications and emails
  • reduce overwhelm and clutter
  • increase productivity, efficiency
  • give you more time
  • make you more money!

A complete overhaul of communications, task and project management, and all the tools that are running the business should be made.  Every department and position should be analyzed and broken down into pieces, and then reassembled to design a lean machine.

There are so many automation opportunities and software that can ease the burden of excessive emails and scattered disorganized tasks.  The software is designed to keep teams and projects moving forward in an organized and productive fashion and reduce the need for urgency.

Summary

So his big question was, “is this acceptable?

On one hand, yes it is perfectly acceptable to work the hours you need to work and to send communications when it works best.

But on the other hand, it’s unacceptable to maintain that level of chaos for any length of time.  It’s not fair to yourself, it’s not fair to your team, and it’s certainly not fair to your clients.

It’ll cause burnout, frustration, employee turnover, poor office morale, and it will create loads of waste that inevitably costs loads of green in the end.

In this case, I’d find a good leadership coach, and hire an operations management firm or consultant that can sort out those logistics and get your systems in order.

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