As a manager in a multinational company, I’m often asked by management and others to attend meetings at rather unreasonable times of day, night, middle of the night and Sundays.
Recently my manager asked me to cover one time zone. However, I continue to receive requests from him to attend meetings that are outside of my agreed-upon time zone hours. I do have a life and responsibilities outside of work, and those non-work hours are my lifeline. How do I gently remind him of this agreement without sounding whiny or unprofessional? And how do I set the boundaries to keep this from happening again?
-Time Zone Time Out
Dear Time Zone Time Out,
The sooner you have a conversation with your manager, the better. Here’s some phraseology:
“(Manager), I’ve been receiving meeting requests from you outside of the designated time zones we discussed. Has something changed since our last conversation, or are you simply making me aware these meetings are taking place to keep me in the loop?”
Perhaps this gentle reminder will be all it takes to make him honor your agreement. If the situation has changed and his expectations are that you’re on these additional calls, you have a decision to make. Show up or speak up. Doing excellent work makes it easier to push back when needed. You might say in that circumstance, “As we discussed prior, I enjoy my position and feel I’m a solid member of the team who contributes. My focus comes from being able to know that I have the time necessary to honor commitments outside of work. Is it possible to receive a summary, rather than be on every call, in order to keep this balance?”
Given our global world, these decisions and choices aren’t going away.