Friday, May 25, 2012

Our families deserve a fair share of our best efforts

A global company never sleeps.  Staff in different parts of the world are always working.   That makes it easy to fall into a 24/7/365 work routine where there is no room for anything else.  Work is only one part of our lives.  Great leaders create a work environment where staff have something in the tank when they get home.  This often gets articulated as "work-life balance".  At one level I believe everyone is responsible to create their own work-life balance.  At the same time I believe leaders create the environment where everyone can make a variety of choices.
How does the leader create that environment?  In my 23 and 24 April blogs I talked about technology and the leaders role as a multiplier. In this blog I focus on leader behaviors.  Simply, leaders create that environment by setting the example.  Like it or not, staff watch their leader's behavior like a hawk.   No matter what a leader says about work-life balance, what they actually do speaks louder to their staff.  Some examples:

1.  Office hours.  If you say you want staff to keep "normal" office hours but get to the office at 5am and leave at 7pm every night you are sending a message about what's expected.
2.  Email.  If you send weekend and late night email you are setting expectations for others.
3.  Vacation time.  If you don't take your allotted vacation time or you email or participate in teleconferences every day during your vacation you are establishing a standard.
4.  National holidays.  If you work during holidays or do not recognize different national holiday traditions you are setting expectations.
5.  Reward and recognition.  If the workaholic on your staff is the one who gets promoted, raises and bonuses you are setting expectations.

My overarching point is leader behavior not policy, creates a healthy work environment where staff can make choices in their personal lives.

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