Recently, a member asked colleagues how to handle sick days.
It’s a good question, one that’s frequently asked by many who are new to the business of administrative support.
Oftentimes, the person isn’t yet owning her role as a business owner (what I refer to as still being in employee mindset). She goes about things as if she were still in a subservient role to her clients and feels they must ask for their permission.
If you are wondering about this, too, here is my advice:
Your mindset about your business and your ownership of it is going to be vital as you grow in your business. It’s important to remember that you are not your clients’ employee. You are a partner to them and an independent business owner who makes her own decisions and determinations about your business and operations.
As an independent business, you don’t have to “ask” anyone for permission on whether it’s okay to take a day off. You simply let folks know you are closed.
This is important to understand because the permissions you give clients control over in your own business are doing to directly impact your ability to grow your business in ways that you prefer, to stay happy in that business (and not burn out or become resentful), and to begin to build a business that not only creates profit in terms of income, but also freedom and flexibility.
What also what helps naviigate these situations is to establish your policies ahead of time and make clients aware of them upfront.
If you haven’t yet, now is a great time to devise your office closure policy and then let all your clients know about that policy. People always handle things much better when they know what the guidelines are in advance and what to expect.
This is an example of what is referred to as “managing expectations.” When you set the expectations upfront, things will always go much better for you in practical application.
The problems come in when we let clients form expectations that don’t allow us room to breathe in our own businesses and to take those days off when we need to for whatever reason.
Doing instant, on-demand work (as if you were their daily, beck-and-call assistant) and being in constant, daily contact with clients is one way you cause clients to form those kind of constrictive, unsustainable expectations. Instead of independent business owners, they begin to see you as their employee, their worker bee who needs to ask them permission to do things.
One way to combat that is to set work request procedures and turn-around policies that give you the freedom and breathing room to take time off and not be chained to your desk day in and day out.
Changing how you talk with clients in these situations will have a huge affect on how they view your relationship. If you approach the conversation from a position of asking for permission, you are telling the client that they control you and are subservient to them. They won’t view you as an equal, independent business partner.
Instead of a mindset seeking permission, look upon your notice to clients that you will be closed for the day (or whatever the situation may be) as a helpful customer courtesy.
Letting them know as early as you can, and when they may expect you to be back open and how or what they can do in the meantime is going to make all the difference in maintaining a healthy respectful relationship of partners AND excellent client relations.