Flexibility, performance and behaviours

How do you deal with a boss who might think you’re not committed if you have outside interests that might need flexibility? I was asked this question recently at a networking event I was speaking at and love that people are thinking about and challenging this mindset – it’s a scenario I’ve personally lived through myself so it’s close to my heart. Typically, a number of things come to mind about what you’re actually doing, if you’ve got so much time why don’t you spend more of it at work, why should work be supportive of your outside interests etc. All good questions that we can easily answer.

High performance requires an element of balance, which means you need a certain amount of time focused on self-care. Whatever that self-care looks like for you, without it you will not be able to achieve and (most importantly) maintain high performance over the longer term. As we’ve outlined many times before, facetime or time at your desk does not equal high performance and productivity. Energy management equals high performance and productivity. If you are delivering on your KPIs, managing your energy sustainably and structuring your days to include your outside interests…more power to you! In my view, you are the definition of high performance.

Check yourself before you wreck yourself

Ok, so if this is you, how do you manage it for the best possible outcome? First and foremost, are you achieving and delivering on your KPIs? Let’s be realistic, we’re not employed or paid to do our outside interests. It would be nice…but not everyone can be a brand ambassador or paid in sponsorships for whatever your personal interests/hobbies may be. So, ask yourself, are you delivering on the tasks you are being asked to do? And get really honest with yourself here – dig right down into your KPIs and look at everything being asked of you. If, hand on your heart, you can say “yes, I’m delivering on what is expected of me when it’s expected”, you’re in a good starting position. If not, we need to look at what you’re potentially missing and how we can improve it.

The next step is to have an open conversation with your manager about their concerns and what is giving them the idea that you are not committed. The key here is to take the emotion out of it and approach the topic in a non-threatening way. If concerns have been raised about your commitment, there is already a sense of threat (be it real or perceived), so we need to get all parties back in a state of rational thinking – a toward state; toward an outcome.

Threaten versus toward state

Toward states occur when the brain perceives or classifies an event as good, so focus on finding a desirable outcome for all involved. Be careful of your language here, taking the focus off them and onto you. Think of questions like:

  • Help me understand what exactly is concerning you about my commitments?
  • What are some of the things you would like me to provide clarity on?
  • Is there anything specific I am not delivering on that I may have missed?
  • What would you like from me to help provide more confidence and a better outcome for all involved?

All of these questions are asking for specifics about your personal behaviour, rather than pointing the finger at whoever raised those concerns. What we are looking for here is a safe zone to prevent that perceived state of threat and then a sense of accountability from all parties – you are being open and asking for the opportunity to be as accountable for your actions as possible. This requires your coworkers to be also. If their concerns are based more on their beliefs around what you should and shouldn’t be doing, rather than the outcomes you are actually delivering, these are two totally different conversations and need to be approached differently.

Ultimately, what we are looking for here is outcomes. If we can provide a bank of evidence to show you are delivering on the desired outcome, the discussion becomes one more focused on beliefs rather than deliverables. If you would like to discuss further or would like more support in having these types of discussion, get in contact with us today.