Overwhelmed Leader

Hi everybody, I’m Mike Staver. This is Mondays with Mike, a weekly video series where I answer questions from people like you. Here’s this week’s question:

I am a leader in a small business. Not the only leader, but I seem to be the one everyone comes to for answers. It’s overwhelming to me. If they send me an email and I don’t answer within 15 to 20 minutes they call me. What suggestions do you have?

Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. Did I mention boundaries?

So here’s the thing. Remember this phrase: what you allow, you teach. Those of you who are longtime Mondays with Mike viewers know that I say that all the time. What you allow, you teach. What you have to do if you’re going to be successful is you have to find yourself in a space where you set the boundaries, not them. If they manage you and you don’t manage them, you’re going to be in trouble.

Let me give you a couple suggestions. Scheduling. I would encourage you to schedule. It appears as if they’re very impatient at 15 to 20 minutes. I would, on my email autoresponder say something like “Thank you for your question or your inquiry, I generally answer my emails on the hour. I’ll be back to you within the hour.” Or 30 minutes, or whatever it is, so that you give them certainty about your response time. When a person calls, don’t answer right away. If a person walks into your office and you’re busy, say “I am going to finish this, and then I’ll get to that. It will take me __ minutes.” That way you start teaching these people what they can expect from you.

Now, if you just disappear for a couple of hours, you’re going to be perceived as not being available, which will make you not a big friend of theirs. But if they just start chomping at the bit like hungry little children pulling at your apron, then you need to set some limits.

So, schedule, set limits, put an auto-responder on your email, and make sure that if you are doing something you don’t just give in to their immediate need, because you’re going to get off track and you’re not going to be very productive.

I hope that’s helpful, I’m Mike Staver, this is Mondays with Mike. Take care, everybody.

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