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Blackberry Slavery

Blackberry Slavery

Blackberry Slavery

    A participant in one of my time management workshops recently shared that her corporate culture has evolved to the point where a manager who owns a Blackberry is expected to respond to email within the hour.

    In a few of those instances in which she took too long to respond, the results was an email to her boss’s boss with a complaint.

    This made me wonder… What happens when an employee receives the “gift” of a Blackberry or iPhone from their company?

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    What unpoken expectations are delivered along with the smartphone?

    What is the human resource department doing to create policies to prevent the worst from happening — executives sending messages back and forth at 5 am, or 20 hour games of “email ping-pong.”

    One enlightened company I am aware of actually has had a long-standing policy that their managers cannot send or read email of phone calls on their designated days off.

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    Dragging

      Most companies, however, are stampeding in the opposite direction, invading what used to be their employees private moments with a “play or else mentality.” Nights, mornings, weekends, holidays and vacations are now fair game in an increasing number of companies, and the recession has only given companies a fresh reason to turn up the pressure on the lucky survivors of the most recent layoff.

      Of course, neither RIM nor Apple is to blame.

      Instead, bad habits are becoming enshrined into company practice, and the result is a drop in productivity.

      Sending an email entitled “URGENT” has turned into the new way of delivering urgent messages, replacing the telephone.

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      The results are simply disastrous, as professionals chain themselves to their smartphones, checking and re-checking their email, just in case they received an urgent email in the last five minutes.

      That’s a LOT of checking for a 1 in 500 event.

      That’s also a LOT of wasted attention.

      By now, we probably have all been subject to “email attention,” which differs from the regular attention that one receives in a normal in-person, or phone conversation.

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      We start out talking with a colleague and the conversation goes well until we detect that they have made the switch to checking their device to see if they have received any urgent email.

      Their responses become just a little delayed, and we can sense that something has shifted as they join the latest game of email ping-pong happening somewhere in cyber-space. Whether they are standing in front of us, or 3000 miles away, the effect is the same — the conversation slows down as they hit reply, start typing and hit send, even as they insist they are “still listening” when challenged.

      Unfortunately, it’s fear that’s driving them to unproductive and ineffective habits.

      This is what some of their spouses, kids, friends and colleagues are seeing when they react with a shake of the head, and words like “addicted” and “Crackberry” are muttered just outside earshot.

      A few have seen the light and are returning, losing, and even breaking their companies’ Blackberry’s and iPhones.

      Even fewer are confronting the culture of fear and intimidation that has subtly being created with the aid of this new technology. It takes courage to say no to bad habits, no matter how wide-spread they are. It takes a clear mind to say yes to a higher productivity that is waiting for companies that can see the trap clearly, and are willing to set new policies to address them.

      More by this author

      Francis Wade

      Author, Management Consultant

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      Last Updated on March 29, 2021

      5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

      5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

      When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

      What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

      The Dream Type Of Manager

      My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

      I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

      My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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      “Okay…”

      That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

      I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

      The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

      The Bully

      My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

      However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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      The Invisible Boss

      This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

      It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

      The Micro Manager

      The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

      Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

      The Over Promoted Boss

      The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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      You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

      The Credit Stealer

      The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

      Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

      3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

      Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

      1. Keep evidence

      Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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      Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

      Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

      2. Hold regular meetings

      Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

      3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

      Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

      However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

      Good luck!

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