Three years ago I addressed something that should be thought about more so now than ever: Digital communication expectations. In 2017 people rely on chat apps to conduct business: Slack, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Ding Talk, LINE, and such. So now on top of email, we have communication coming at us from various directions.
Currently I manage a team of about 15 people and we are growing super fast. With several projects going on simultaneously, we are in constant communication via Slack, WhatsApp, and Ding Talk (Ding is another chat app for our China clients — apparently Tencent (WeChat’s parent company) and Weibo cannot be trusted). I told our team there are times I might send messages at odd hours of the day and please do not feel obligated to respond. After a week or so, I noticed everyone would respond right away.
I followed Sheryl Sandberg’s lead in communicating with her team, that just because she sends emails late at night she doesn’t expect an immediate response (via Bloomberg Studio). Laying out expectations encourages a fair, flexible work place. But when I put it to practice, I found this to be unrealistic: Most people will always feel the need to respond right away. Then, I imagined myself working at Facebook and if got an email from Sheryl Sandberg, I would feel obligated to respond right away.
As senior leadership and co-founder of our company, I realized it was now up to me to relieve the team of the burden and this sense of responsibility to prove they are of value. So now I jot things into notes (SimpleNote, Apple Notes, email draft, anything — to prevent from sending messages) and make sure to send during work hours. This method has worked well so far and I encourage other leaders and managers to do the same.
Just something to think about.