As a personal policy, my work calendar has always been available to each person within the organization, mainly because I want anybody to be able to find me, or to be able to assess whether or not they are comfortable asking me to change my schedule. I do not understand why some of my co-workers would desire to maintain their entire schedule in hidden state as most applications ( I currently use Microsoft Outlook as my default calendar/e-mail application ) have the option to make specific events private.
Now that we’ve set the foundation for today’s discussion, let’s get on with things shall we?… I’ve mentioned in previous discussions that I’ve spent portions of my career engaged at and with Fortune 100 corporations. One company’s policy was that individual calendars were visible throughout the organization. Prior to the start of a weekly change meeting, I would take the opportunity to clean up a few calendar items on my laptop as attendees filtered into the room. The Director sitting to my right glanced at my calendar and chuckled loud enough for both of us to hear. He commented on the fact that I had accounted for travel time to and from a an event later that afternoon. Now, this could have been an offsite meeting, a lunch with a friend, or an afternoon round of golf, but in this instance the event happened to be my child’s soccer game.
I had remarked that this was a priority for me and that I needed to ensure that I could be at the event and allow for travel time to the field and back to the office. I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as a response… this could have gone badly if this individual wanted give me grief about being out of the office during the day, but in this case he simply smiled, nodded his head, and returned to his business. To my personal amusement, I would discover years later that this fellow followed a similar practice.
The short of this is that if we are committed to honoring our priorities, then we need to fiercely protect against the little things that will work hard to get in the way. If those priorities are a family event, a work meeting, or a deadline, then we have to work to ensure that time is allocated to each. For my example, I was ensuring that I would have time to attend the soccer match including the time that would be required to travel to and from the field.
Admittedly, I have not always been as successful as I wanted or should have been, but in an attempt to honor my priorities, I had established a few guidelines to help keep me on target.
- My daily schedule needs to be available to others either online, or by posting a physical copy outside my office.
- Meeting conflicts should be addressed immediately – if others need me to be present for their discussion, then I need to be intentional in responding to their invitation – they can modify the time of the meeting, provide for remote access, or ensure that I get feedback on the outcome of the discussion and what is needed from me.
- When I travel as part of my job, then I should account for “drive” time or when appropriate “walk” time within the company campus.
Previously, I have addressed the importance of effective meetings, and what we are discussing today absolutely aligns with that topic. In addition to being prepared, setting agendas and starting meetings on time, consistently following my guidelines provides me a means of honoring professional commitments and how they align to my personal priorities. As years have passed, the value that I place on my time has increased exponentially and I have found that I need to be intentional in protecting that time.
An intentional attitude in embracing these values is one component that in transforming organizational culture. Of course, this is only the first step (and the easiest). I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a bit of a stretch in linking a work calendar to transforming an organization, but as Richard Dreyfus had professed in the movie What about Bob?… It’s all about baby steps.