The Three Keys To Talking Mobility With Your Employees
Mobility intelligence may come down to three simple keys – organizing, communicating and enforcing your mobility plans – but as with many simple seeming activities, the difficulty is really in the execution.
Exactly how should you lay out your expectations and limits to employees, and what tone should you use? How much freedom should you give them? How should you handle any confusion or disputes that arise? Communicating well about mobility isn’t as easy as it might first appear. But there are a few simple principles that can help you get it right.
Clarity is King
The first of these is no huge shock – being clear and upfront about your expectations saves a lot of hassle down the road. Make sure your employees understand from before you even hand them their shiny new phones or devices, when, how and how much they can use them.
“Just set the expectations,” advises Yeona Jang, a professor at the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University in Montreal, who believes the company is responsible for limiting complexity when it comes to mobility. “There are simple rules – up to this much, the company will pay for it, the rest you will take care of – is one,” she says.
Freedom … With Consequences
But just clearly explaining the limits on how employees can use their device isn’t sufficient; the tone of this communication is just as important. No one likes being lectured at or dictated to. On the other hand, clear boundaries encourage good behavior. Striking a balance between respect and responsibilities is essential.
“You have a carrot and stick. Give employees some room to make some judgment effectively, but also clearly articulate the consequences in case there is abuse,” says Jang, who elaborated on both sides of this equation.
“When you communicate, communicate in such a way that the recipient of this communication feels that they are valued and they are treated as knowledge workers with respect, as opposed to somebody that you don’t trust. You have to rely on employees’ ability to make good decisions in terms of how to use these tools,” she says of the freedom side of things. Trusting your team to make smart use of available tools is a morale and productivity booster.
But Jang also stresses that, “there also has to be clear teeth in the policy,” including the possibility of termination for a series of violations or egregious abuse of the company’s trust.
Provide a Point Man – and a Vision
Communication isn’t a one-way street, so just as you need to inform your employees’ fully about their mobility plans, your employees may need to inform or question management about issues involving mobility. They need to know where they company stands and who they can talk to about their concerns. Make sure employees know who’s their mobility point man (or woman), who can resolve and explain any mobility issues that may arise.
Jang agrees that open lines of communication between ground-level employees and management is key – “I think the most important player in this communication will be the managers,” she says – but she also insists that the executive level has an essential role to play. The top of the company may not be advising on the minutiae of the sales’ department’s data allowance, but they can provide a vision of what the organization’s overall approach to mobility is and what that vision communicates about both how the organization values its employees and its high standards for them.
“Top management has to think about the role of these tools and how this is going to impact their organizational culture. The policies they develop need to be aligned with the organizational culture they’re trying to foster. The CEO sets the tone and vision,” when it comes to mobility, she says.