Dear Aunty B,
I am a female entrepreneur and we have gone out of our way to create a positive and flexible environment for women returning from having a baby. (Having had one myself and being pregnant with my second, I know what it is like.)
However that culture has now crept into the whole workplace and I now have a “clock-on, clock-off” culture where people expect to work only their allotted hours and have a right to leave early for pick ups or take afternoons off to see sports events with no leave forms.
My senior staff are paid extremely well and I expect them to be able to work back on occasion to get the work done. But we can’t get the work done in the hours they are working and I am going to have to hire more staff at a time when my sales are falling.
Have I a right to expect give and take from staff?
Forget about rights. Your well paid senior staff should be happy to stay back and get the work done. If they need an early day for say a crèche pick up, then that is a completely separate issue that is negotiated with you, your GM or your HR manager.
It is important to explain to staff that as the economic environment has changed, all staff need to put in more. Spell out that you are not hiring more staff for the foreseeable future and be very clear about KPIs in performance reviews, which you should hold as soon as possible. Pick some opinion leaders within your company and incentivise them to change the culture.
Make sure that your office manager keeps records on sick leave and personal leave – and is keeping them correctly. Remember that you have a responsibility to shareholders, suppliers and employees, and that they are counting on your for their jobs. They might be cross at the change in culture, but they will feel worse if your company doesn’t make it through the downturn.
Lastly have a good look at yourself. You sound a bit needy. Make sure you are not one of these female entrepreneurs who needs their staff to be their friends. That always backfires. It could be a good idea to take a leadership course or join a CEO networking group like The Executive Connection.
You will find support there to make the hard decisions.
Your Aunty B.