DR. E. CAROL WEBSTER’S
ARE YOU A MIXED MESSAGE MANAGER?
E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Original Copyright © 2011
It sounds great to say you support work-life balance, but do you “walk the walk”? Do you serve as a role model for your staff in getting your work out, but taking time to enjoy your mate, your children, your friends and relatives, and solitary interests? Perhaps more importantly, do you manage in a manner that permits your leadership team and staff to enjoy their lives as well as their jobs? Don’t give mixed messages: If you truly believe in work-life balance, your policies and practices should reflect it.
Reduce 24/7 Work Expectations
Many managers take pride in the fact that, in spite of downsizing, they are squeezing the necessary work production out of the employees who remain. They boast that they can get away with a lot because people are afraid of getting fired in this bad economy. They feel confident in sending employees home with work to complete on their own time, call to give them new tasks in the evenings and on weekends, and text or email whenever the mood strikes. This results in staff working around the clock –- hardly allowing any balance of leisure with work time. Cease the abuse of your power if you truly care about your staff and want them to take care of themselves physically and emotionally. They may be producing for you now, but they certainly can’t give you their greatest creativity and innovative thinking when sapped by persistent stress and burnout. As they start cutting corners and covering up in an effort to cope, your customer service and product quality will suffer in the long run.
Value Employees with Families
It’s no secret that in many workplaces, staff with families get the shaft. They are often overlooked for plum assignments or to attend prestigious events, for example. This is explained away as support of these employees’ wish to be at home with their families but, when pressed, managers acknowledge believing that these workers are distracted by worry about their children and use their free time to call home or to take care of other obligations while others devote all of their time and attention to the job. You are displaying bias and missing out on the talent these workers can bring to special assignments and activities when you cut them out. Yes, the job is important, but all of your employees need time for themselves. What they do during this time, whether doting on family or tending to other personal interests, should not count against them as a negative.
Promote Use of Flextime
It’s understandable that work must be done after hours or on weekends at times. But your employees need time to restore and rejuvenate, so should be encouraged to use flextime as soon after the extended work time as possible. You’re exploiting your staff when you signal that use of flextime is unacceptable and that they will be overlooked for advancement or other opportunities if they use it. The abuse of workers in requiring overtime but prohibiting flextime, much less not paying salary for it, is rampant. Don’t be one of these oppressors. Your staff can bring renewed energy and fresh ideas to your workplace when they are well rested and fortified by gratifying activities and relationships that vitalize their lives.
You are responsible for getting the work of the business done while balancing all the complexities of the people who work for you, and this is a tough job. But it’s important to lead with integrity and to remember that, while profitability is essential to the survival of the business, the survival of your staff is important too. Don’t let greed be the priority. If you espouse a belief in your employees’ need to have fulfilling lives after work, give them some “after work” to enjoy.
About the Author:
Dr. E. Carol Webster is a clinical psychologist consultant in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
She is author of the book for those dealing with the stress of success ―
Success Management: How to Get to the Top and Keep Your Sanity Once You Get There,
The Fear of Success: Stop It From Stopping You! ―
the book to help you overcome fears that may be holding you back in your life and career
The Private Practice of Clinical Psychology in: Voices of Historical & Contemporary Black American Pioneers
To contact Dr. Webster visit online at http://drcarolwebster.com or call 954.797.9766.
E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychology Consulting
Mailing Address: 7027 West Broward Boulevard, #262 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33317
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