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Levelling the field for colleague expectation

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Levelling the field for colleague expectation

Levelling the field for colleague expectation

Levelling the field for colleague expectation

Jun 20, 2024

James Murray, Strategy Director

When so many people want the same time off work to watch a football match, or other major national event, what do you do? How do you decide who to please and – potentially – annoy?

As anyone that’s been a final decision-maker in this scenario knows, it can be a thankless task. 

Last night we had the Scotland game (thankfully with a late kick off for many). Tonight it's another crunch moment when England kick off their second match at 5pm. With coverage starting at 4pm, diaries will have been juggled to make sure those who want to can escape early.

So, go on, be honest… In these situations, as a leader, how does it make you feel? 

You might love it or hate it as an individual, but navigating the fairness challenge in teams is a year-round activity that leaders should constantly have on their radar, and something all of us who’ve led have had to face. 

The management challenge

That scenario – where half the office wants to knock off early at 4pm, to get home, or go to the pub for an early kick-off, is just a microcosm of the constant and increasing management challenge to recognise personal interests, hobbies and needs of the individual in the context of a team, or a workplace. Sometimes, these requirements and expectations were framed without checking against the fixture list. 

And in the post-pandemic, hybrid or work from home world, the ability to see, know and judge what’s going on is even more difficult. 

Let’s imagine that, in the office-based working context at least, there are three broad reactions: 

  1. “Urgh. I have no interest whatsoever in sport on TV. And, by the way, I know that I end up picking up the slack from my colleagues when they are knocking off early to head to the pub.” 

  2. “Brilliant. I can’t get enough of it. I’m not even going to have to skip much work –there are only a few 5pm games that I’ll have to duck out early for. But there’ll be enough people in the office to cover it.” 

  3. “I mean, I don’t mind sport. And I follow my country in the big tournaments or events. But really, I can take it or leave it.” 

Now think about it from a staffing perspective. You’re running a team. You say it’s all about bringing your whole self to work in your team and you want people to be able to indulge their sporting passions. How do you manage the logistics to keep everyone happy. Or do you even try? 

There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s all about fairness. Whether it’s booking half term off to be with children, watching England at the Euros, or the T20 World Cup – the hobbies, responsibilities and interests of your team are there week-in, week-out. 

Put consistency upfront

Few teams want more rules. What they do want is consistency. There are some workplaces where you just don’t get a choice. It goes with the territory. You’re on a rota, or a shift that needs you to be present, and can be pretty inflexible. But there’s still a person in that role – how can you make them feel valued at these times? 

In those roles, it’s about perceived fairness in putting the rota together. In more flexible roles it’s about not taking more than your fair share. Share the principles of fairness – but don’t try to work through every scenario. If the team want fairness, and you want to be flexible, be imaginative. 

If there are 10 of us in the office and five want to knock off an hour early, what do the five that are left get in return? An early departure on Friday to make up for it – a long lunch? It can be anything, but make it something.  

Trying to keep everyone happy is a noble, but doomed aspiration. Allowing everyone to feel like they’ve been thought of, and treated fairly, well maybe that is just possible. 

Want more insight on how to navigate team challenges as a leader? Get in touch.

When so many people want the same time off work to watch a football match, or other major national event, what do you do? How do you decide who to please and – potentially – annoy?

As anyone that’s been a final decision-maker in this scenario knows, it can be a thankless task. 

Last night we had the Scotland game (thankfully with a late kick off for many). Tonight it's another crunch moment when England kick off their second match at 5pm. With coverage starting at 4pm, diaries will have been juggled to make sure those who want to can escape early.

So, go on, be honest… In these situations, as a leader, how does it make you feel? 

You might love it or hate it as an individual, but navigating the fairness challenge in teams is a year-round activity that leaders should constantly have on their radar, and something all of us who’ve led have had to face. 

The management challenge

That scenario – where half the office wants to knock off early at 4pm, to get home, or go to the pub for an early kick-off, is just a microcosm of the constant and increasing management challenge to recognise personal interests, hobbies and needs of the individual in the context of a team, or a workplace. Sometimes, these requirements and expectations were framed without checking against the fixture list. 

And in the post-pandemic, hybrid or work from home world, the ability to see, know and judge what’s going on is even more difficult. 

Let’s imagine that, in the office-based working context at least, there are three broad reactions: 

  1. “Urgh. I have no interest whatsoever in sport on TV. And, by the way, I know that I end up picking up the slack from my colleagues when they are knocking off early to head to the pub.” 

  2. “Brilliant. I can’t get enough of it. I’m not even going to have to skip much work –there are only a few 5pm games that I’ll have to duck out early for. But there’ll be enough people in the office to cover it.” 

  3. “I mean, I don’t mind sport. And I follow my country in the big tournaments or events. But really, I can take it or leave it.” 

Now think about it from a staffing perspective. You’re running a team. You say it’s all about bringing your whole self to work in your team and you want people to be able to indulge their sporting passions. How do you manage the logistics to keep everyone happy. Or do you even try? 

There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s all about fairness. Whether it’s booking half term off to be with children, watching England at the Euros, or the T20 World Cup – the hobbies, responsibilities and interests of your team are there week-in, week-out. 

Put consistency upfront

Few teams want more rules. What they do want is consistency. There are some workplaces where you just don’t get a choice. It goes with the territory. You’re on a rota, or a shift that needs you to be present, and can be pretty inflexible. But there’s still a person in that role – how can you make them feel valued at these times? 

In those roles, it’s about perceived fairness in putting the rota together. In more flexible roles it’s about not taking more than your fair share. Share the principles of fairness – but don’t try to work through every scenario. If the team want fairness, and you want to be flexible, be imaginative. 

If there are 10 of us in the office and five want to knock off an hour early, what do the five that are left get in return? An early departure on Friday to make up for it – a long lunch? It can be anything, but make it something.  

Trying to keep everyone happy is a noble, but doomed aspiration. Allowing everyone to feel like they’ve been thought of, and treated fairly, well maybe that is just possible. 

Want more insight on how to navigate team challenges as a leader? Get in touch.

When so many people want the same time off work to watch a football match, or other major national event, what do you do? How do you decide who to please and – potentially – annoy?

As anyone that’s been a final decision-maker in this scenario knows, it can be a thankless task. 

Last night we had the Scotland game (thankfully with a late kick off for many). Tonight it's another crunch moment when England kick off their second match at 5pm. With coverage starting at 4pm, diaries will have been juggled to make sure those who want to can escape early.

So, go on, be honest… In these situations, as a leader, how does it make you feel? 

You might love it or hate it as an individual, but navigating the fairness challenge in teams is a year-round activity that leaders should constantly have on their radar, and something all of us who’ve led have had to face. 

The management challenge

That scenario – where half the office wants to knock off early at 4pm, to get home, or go to the pub for an early kick-off, is just a microcosm of the constant and increasing management challenge to recognise personal interests, hobbies and needs of the individual in the context of a team, or a workplace. Sometimes, these requirements and expectations were framed without checking against the fixture list. 

And in the post-pandemic, hybrid or work from home world, the ability to see, know and judge what’s going on is even more difficult. 

Let’s imagine that, in the office-based working context at least, there are three broad reactions: 

  1. “Urgh. I have no interest whatsoever in sport on TV. And, by the way, I know that I end up picking up the slack from my colleagues when they are knocking off early to head to the pub.” 

  2. “Brilliant. I can’t get enough of it. I’m not even going to have to skip much work –there are only a few 5pm games that I’ll have to duck out early for. But there’ll be enough people in the office to cover it.” 

  3. “I mean, I don’t mind sport. And I follow my country in the big tournaments or events. But really, I can take it or leave it.” 

Now think about it from a staffing perspective. You’re running a team. You say it’s all about bringing your whole self to work in your team and you want people to be able to indulge their sporting passions. How do you manage the logistics to keep everyone happy. Or do you even try? 

There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s all about fairness. Whether it’s booking half term off to be with children, watching England at the Euros, or the T20 World Cup – the hobbies, responsibilities and interests of your team are there week-in, week-out. 

Put consistency upfront

Few teams want more rules. What they do want is consistency. There are some workplaces where you just don’t get a choice. It goes with the territory. You’re on a rota, or a shift that needs you to be present, and can be pretty inflexible. But there’s still a person in that role – how can you make them feel valued at these times? 

In those roles, it’s about perceived fairness in putting the rota together. In more flexible roles it’s about not taking more than your fair share. Share the principles of fairness – but don’t try to work through every scenario. If the team want fairness, and you want to be flexible, be imaginative. 

If there are 10 of us in the office and five want to knock off an hour early, what do the five that are left get in return? An early departure on Friday to make up for it – a long lunch? It can be anything, but make it something.  

Trying to keep everyone happy is a noble, but doomed aspiration. Allowing everyone to feel like they’ve been thought of, and treated fairly, well maybe that is just possible. 

Want more insight on how to navigate team challenges as a leader? Get in touch.


Ready to dive deeper?

Ready to dive deeper?

Ready to dive deeper?

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