I have a 15 year-old pet peeve. I hate when leaders use voicemail messages to promote themselves. This pet peeve should be older. Unfortunately it is a habit I had to break myself before it became a pet peeve.
At some point I realized I was sending messages to my team that included information that did nothing for them. They would often start:
“It’s 6:00 AM and I am on my way to the airport…” or
“It’s 7:30 PM and I am 30 minutes from home…”
Why would I say that in my message?
Because it made ME feel good about ME! The meat of my message was intended to be useful to those I was leading. It is really too bad I had to add extra verbiage for my own benefit.
I am not going to attempt to speak for everyone who sends these messages. I will speak based on what I saw in my heart. Unfortunately if there are good reasons for adding these useless nuggets to a voicemail, I doubt my team or your team realizes it.
The biggest reason was my insecurity as a leader. I wanted my team to know I was working hard. It made me feel good that they knew I was up early or getting home late.
I could rationalize it away. I could make myself believe that letting people know what time I left the house or what time I was getting home was setting an example for them. But, as I matured as a leader, I realized guilt is a lousy leadership tactic.
I also realized that leaders who set the example do not need to pound their chest and say, “Look at me! I am setting the example over here!”
Besides what time I leave the house or get home from work does not predict how productive I am. Busy and productive are not the same thing.
Tangent Pet Peeve
A related pet peeve may be emails that come from bosses in the middle of the night. I sent them for the same reasons I sent those voicemails. They were self serving.
If I chose to work in the middle of the night, that is my decision. I was the one managing my home life. Sometimes I couldn’t sleep. Therefore, I worked.
However, I set an unofficial expectation for my team when I did that. My people would see those emails at strange times and think that was what I wanted from them.
Or worse. They thought that is what a leader had to do to stay ahead in the company. As a result, many high potential people chose not to post for leadership positions due to the impact they thought it would have on their home lives.
To rectify this, I set my computer to post the emails after 7:30 AM. I may have typed it at midnight. But, I lost nothing by setting it to post in the morning. No one would see it until then anyway. I got my work done and my message out without placing unintended expectations on my team.
The Bottom Line:
Who benefits from my messages? If the message I am about to send helps me look good, then I should rethink the message. My goal with a voicemail message or an email message is to be sure it is informative and without a lot of extras.
My people get enough superfluous information throughout the day without me adding to it.
What do I want from a boss?
Give me a productive boss with a quality home life versus a busy, time-waster who isn’t leading at home! I don’t need to be convinced of my boss’s hard work or hear them convince themselves they are working hard.
If I promote myself or use guilt to get others to work harder, I need to look in the mirror and reevaluate myself as a leader.
What leadership pet peeves do you have?