A reader writes:
My manager keeps messaging me during the weekends! We have a large project with the deadline coming up, but I feel it’s getting to the point where I simply can’t take a day off. The worst part is, a lot of these are just checking if I have done something, not adding things to my queue. Essentially it’s, yes I have done that, no I haven’t accomplished that every weekend.
It really crossed a line for me where I didn’t answer a phone call from him when I was on a date and I got hell for it on Monday. How can I put barriers with my manager? Should I go to HR? If this keeps going on, I am not sure if I can continue working at this company. – Zach
It’s always tough getting a manager who is over the top contacting you on weekdays to stop. I worked in a family business and experienced this non stop so..been there… not a fan. Plus, it’s not like you can tell your boss to jump off a bridge without potentially losing your job.
For this situation, I suggest going back to your original contract and seeing if you are expected to be available on the weekends. Some contracts explicitly state this having to be available on weekends so it’s good to double check before you do anything drastic.
If you are expected to be available on the weekends then:
Block off time where you can get your work done and where you are available to be on call. Make sure you give yourself breaks.
If you are not expected to be available on the weekends then:
Okay there are a few ways of going about this, indirect and direct. You pick because I am sure people will have different opinions on these suggestions.
On the indirect approach, you can start responding less and less on the weekends. For instance, instead of immediately picking up your phone, you can text them immediately after. Or better yet, respond an hour late asking what they need help with. However, this process needs to be gradual and not immediate. Over time your manager will get used to not being able to reach you. If they still demand your weekend attention, you can reference your contract but only as a last resort.
On the direct approach, on Friday you can ping your manager and ask if there is anything you should be on top of over the weekend to make sure there are very few things that can randomly ‘pop up’. Just letting them know that you are all ears right now, but might not be as available over the weekend.
If there is constant back and forth, I suggest having a call where you can get everything out of the way instead of all day trying to ping one another communicating something that can simply be addressed over a quick call.
Countries like France, have banned this type of behavior specifically for the reason that people need a break from technology and the workplace to recharge. In the states we currently do not have laws preventing managers from communicating with their teams on the weekend, but maybe one day we will.
Let me know if your boss starts to cool off a bit on the weekends.
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