To Protect and To Serve

I noticed a police car the other day. Not that I don’t notice police cars when I see them, but the way I look at them these days is different. I used to see them as potential problems, and my unconscious response was to check my speed. Since I no longer speed and am not concerned about getting pulled over, I find that I can “see” the police car in traffic with me. Written on the side of the car (which happened to be from the City of Enid) was “To Protect and To Serve.”

That got me thinking.

We use the term “servant leadership” a lot these days. Historically, one of the main responsibilities of leadership was protection. The ruling class did have some significant perks, but if their land or people were threatened, they rode out to protect them. The best leaders were at the front of the fight, standing (or riding) shoulder to shoulder with their people.

We protect a lot of things at Kimray. We protect our trademarks, our product and manufacturing knowledge, our money, our property, our market share, and most importantly, our people.

It is unlikely we will be called upon to defend Kimray from a physical attack, but our people are under attack all the time from many enemies.

We want Kimray to be a safe place to work. We create an environment that is physically safe by limiting exposure to potentially harmful things, providing training and encouragement in safe methods, and requiring personal protection and work aids. We create an environment that is safe from harassment, discrimination, crude or vulgar language, and lewd or offensive images. We maintain our facilities, monitor our buildings and parking lots, and screen potential team members to limit our team’s exposure to toxic or dangerous people.

We want Kimray to promote healthy lifestyles. We have great medical coverage and emphasize preventative care and early detection for illness. We promote active lifestyles and create incentives for our people to make healthy choices. We provide education, support, and resources for our people and their families. We do as much as we can to protect the health of our people so they can serve and protect their families.

My question today is, “Are we protecting our people’s time?” We say that family is a priority over work. I have talked about being intentional in the choices we make versus trying for some unrealistic “balance.” At the end of the day or week, we need to ask ourselves if we have helped or harmed our people where their time is concerned.

As leaders, we often have the privilege of managing our own calendars to maximize our ability to work. We can limit the number of meetings we accept, block out time to work on things that require focus, and even choose to not come into the office if we think we could be more productive elsewhere. We also almost always have private offices where we can close the door to reduce interruptions and create quiet space.

The people we are supposed to protect and serve are not always able to do these things. It is our responsibility to protect their time and guard them from being over scheduled. We should strive to limit unnecessary meetings, give them appropriate control over their time to be as efficient as possible, and encourage them to be
creative and vocal in setting expectations for how they work.

It is not uncommon in the business world for people to work long hours. This often results from people fearing that they must accomplish more or be cast aside. However, if they are unable to find reasonable blocks of time during the day to get substantive work done, then they are under attack from the very people who should be defending them.

Kimray should be a safe place where time is concerned. As leaders, we must protect our people from believing they must always be on and available all the time for anyone. Rather, we should manage our requirements for them in a way that allows them to complete their work while protecting their personal and family time.

Remember that when we hire someone, we don’t own that person. When we think about a workweek as “company time,” we’re turning it into something the company owns. But really, it’s not company time;  it’s the employee’s time to do work for the company.

Let’s protect our people’s time. It’s The Kimray Way.

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