“I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” – Henley. This is such a powerful statement, from “Invictus” a short Victorian poem by the English poet William Ernest Henley (1849–1903). As time goes by, I appreciate this statement more and more in my personal and professional life and let me share today some of my related experiences.
Our team in APAC has grown a lot over the past 3 years (from 10 to 120+, across 5 offices). I find myself spending more of my time listening and coaching our team members to solve their team/client relationship/individual problems/concerns. Many of these challenges seem tough and emotional. This is particularly true when a team members has to work late/over work, work under stress over an extended period of time. I noticed the judgement of our star team members start to get clouded; the decision they make under these circumstances are not “normal”.
Some have issues with difficult client relationship. In other instances, some may have internal issues such as lack of clarity on how decisions are being made, not having enough team members to do the work etc.
My guiding principle for all of the above is that “we all have different choices, always have and always will, because we have the power to control our thought” (Napoleon Hill). For me, my work has always been a partnership between me and the company/the client. We both make a choice daily to continue the partnership. For any partnership to be long lasting and fruitful, it has to be beneficial to all parties. This belief empowers me to think clearly and make better decision.
Making a conscious choice to work longer hours
First of all, it’s our culture and commitment not to ask our team to work late consistently except in very rare situations. However, if a team member wants to work long hour (more than 40 hours/ week) and enjoy doing it, having no health or personal issue with it, it should be fine to me. The main difference is about consciously making a decision vs being “asked” or just following your boss without thinking.
When I first started, I remembered working at least 55 or 60 hours per week, mainly because I started writing this blog after work at home. This helped me to grow tremendously and I didn’t regret it a bit. We had another brilliant team member, whom I learnt a lot from. She used to work 60+ hours plus in the first 3 years of her career under a brilliant founder and she progressed extremely quickly in her approach, story telling, presentation skill. I am no match to her at all. She told us before that she didn’t regret spending so much time working in the first 3 years as well since it was her own choice and she gained so much from it.
Treating everyone with respect and dignity
It’s our belief that no matter what is right or wrong, everyone should be treated with respect and dignity. Moreover, everyone should try to communicate in a professional way because it’s more effective that way. “a drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.” – Dale Carnegie.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a manager/director or team member, on the client or agency side, it’s how we should treat each other human being. If you work with anyone (internal or external) who behave/communicate in a non-professional way, don’t keep quiet, escalate it, try to find a suitable way to address it. Though when emotion runs high, practising this is not easy but we should try 🙂
Senior managers and directors: treat our team members as an intelligent/brilliant human beings, who are capable of making their own choices
Last but not least, if you are a line manager, treat your brilliant team members as adults who are capable of making their own choices. More importantly, your team members need to learn how to make their own choices in life (personal and professional). Sometimes, we make the right decision. In many other instances, we make the wrong ones and then we pivot. That’s how we learn and grow in life. Obviously, if the decision would lead to a terrible situation then perhaps advise your team. Otherwise, empower and respect the decisions your team members would make.
It is not fun to see someone making a “wrong” choice and suffer from it but it’s your job as line manager to learn to let your team making their own choices and learn from them as long as it’s not catastrophic.
That’s all from me for today. If you have any comments, feel free to drop them here.