Recently, I was Google searching and it caught my eye a reference to the “National Leave the Office Early Day”, which is celebrated in the U.S. on June 2nd. It concerns people who work more than forty hours each week. By all accounts, most of us have been through the awkward situation when we don’t know when it’s time to leave the office. The problem becomes bigger when the boss stays behind until late at night.
During my early days in the telecommunications industry, I was supporting a very demanding project which lasted more than a year. I remember very clearly that I could not go home earlier than nine o’clock. The question is: How can I be the first to depart, without causing any stressful atmosphere? Could I regularly jet hours before my co-workers, without labeled as lacking motivation?
To begin with, my relationship with the manager is the defining factor. In the past, I would start following him without consideration, believing that I would gain his approval. In fact, I was copying his attitude because I thought that I was building some kind of intimacy. I was trying to fit in. For instance, when he was demanding, putting a lot of pressure on his communication with others, it was more likely that I would be rigorous and short-tempered during my communication with my clients. The same thing was happening, when the manager extended his stay at work, even if it was unnecessary. In sub-communication level, he was sending the message that his subordinates should stay on track. He might have become condescending asking questions like “Where are you going so early?” or “Are you work for the Public Sector”? Such manipulating behavior was very common, which a lot of times made me not daring to leave before him. It was a form of emotional blackmail.
The first thing that I have stopped doing is staying further without any reason, or just in order to keep up appearances. On the other hand, I wouldn’t disappear without my supervisor’s approval. I want to be clear that I am interested in building trust and close collaboration with both my teammates and the leader. Have I any indications that my supervisor feels distressed or annoyed, I will call a meeting in order to discuss it. It is very possible that he faces something similar in relation to the upper management. My intention is to offer him an alternative way of communication, an escape.
Given the role of a team leader, I make it clear that each team member is free to follow his daily schedule. Assuming that I need assistance in order to handle an emergency issue, I ask immediately for their contribution even if it forces them to cancel their evening plans. As a subordinate, I let my boss know that I am going to leave, asking for his permission delightfully. “I am done for today, is there anything else I can do for you”?
So let’s put some effort, in order sometime to celebrate the “Global Left the Office Late Once Day”. It would be fascinating!