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Joe Biden’s Letter to Staff
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Joe Biden’s Letter to Staff
Our clients and all the businesses I speak with are more and more worried about stress and the mental health of their staff. In fact its stressing people out!
I just remembered a wonderful note that Vice President Joe Biden sent back in November 2014, a seemingly everyday memo to his staff.
The words he used, sentiment he shared and leadership he demonstrated seem even more relevant today – just 3 years on.
“To my Wonderful Staff,” the letter begins,
“I would like to take a moment and make something clear to everyone. I do not expect nor do I want any of you to miss or sacrifice important family obligations for work.
Family obligations include but are not limited to family birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, any religious ceremonies such as first communions and bar mitzvahs, graduations, and times of need such as illness or a loss in the family.
This is very important to me. In fact, I will go so far as to say that if I find out that you are working with me while missing important family responsibilities, it will disappoint me greatly. This has been an unwritten rule since my days in the senate.
Thank you all for the hard work.”
Would you feel comfortable writing the same to your staff? It could be an antidote to a lot of the stress people experience.
With my love and best wishes to you all.
I took over a marketing team in 1990 in a company that had been through a huge merger of two companies with very different cultures. The performance pressures had been and still were huge, not just on this team, but everywhere across the organisation. EVERYTHING was urgent. Meetings started at 18:00 and ran until…
I declared Thursday “Date Night.” Time to be with your significant other, friends or even tucked up with a good book–just not in the office. It has to be schedule-able, so that the important people in your life can make plans around your availability at a fixed time every week.
I sent out a memo saying that the Marketing department would not be available for ANY meetings that FINISHED after 16:30 on Thursdays. I took many angry phone calls from my colleagues. I chased my team out the door. It took about a month for people to believe that I was serious. After that first month, other departments started going home if not slightly early, at least “on time.” Thursday was perhaps the most effectively planned day of the week across the company. After a few months people started to think more thoughtfully about how to schedule meetings to get the work done AND anticipate crisis. Eventually we left the crisis mode of the acquisition period behind.
Many leaders will happily rush to agree that they would be very happy to write this to their staff. How many would ACTUALLY mean it or really follow that in practice? Sadly, and increasingly often, I see many of these notes, I even hear it said all the time in 121s,calls etc. but in practice there is an unwritten, subliminal message that you still have to complete all that work – that is what stresses people! Today’s economy means companies have do more and more with fewer and fewer people whilst still being seen as caring for their employees’ wellbeing- that’s nearly unrealistic! So most just keep on saying it, writing it, even having policies about it. But we all know you have two choices: you still sacrifice your “work-life balance” to complete all that work or you accept a lower performance rating or implied comments that you should “manage your time better” or “prioritise better” (when that is actually out of your hands) or “delegate more” (to whom? Everyone’s just as loaded as you!)… Then we spend millions on counselling, absence, various initiatives to deal with stressed people… Sorry. I know I’m not this negative normally but this is one of my pet peeves. Why can’t we be more like the Scandinavians?
My Mother passed away last week and the support and genuine response since by my CEO has been very touching.
Not forgotten either as I return to work today. We spend most of our lives at work and to know the people you work with care is very human.