The first 3 habits discussed steps we need to take to be independent; in other words, personal (private) mastery. The next 3 Habits add the team (Public) dynamic into the equation. Positive work-life policies and practices are largely dependent on the ability of different parties to communicate and cooperate effectively. Let’s dive into it.
Habit 4: Think Win-Win. Many of my blogs on this topic mention negotiation and discussions with other coworkers in some form. The research shows that many organizations are not open to the work-life policies even when they offer them! The bottom line is that when we are discussing different work arrangements, setting boundaries, or justifying actions to our family or boss, we have to do so from a point of view where all sides benefit. Positive work-life policies help every body involved. Let’s dissect this briefly:
Management/“The Company”: Positive practices and policies (say that fast 3 times) have been shown to strengthen output and more importantly decrease employee stress and health problems. Not only is this more humane, but the company benefits by having less health claims which in turn contributes to keeping insurance premiums low. Plus, work-life policies have been shown to increase employee loyalty and decrease intent-to-leave and we all know how costly rehiring is!
The Employee: This one is pretty obvious but employees benefit by having a senses of control and enjoyment over the various domains in their lives. This increases their satisfaction, performance, and quality of overall life.
The Family: Those not directly involved in the business relationship also benefits as rates of work-to-family and family-to-work spillover tend to decrease. Spending more time with loved ones is what life is really about (sorry if I am getting sappy here). Having to listen to a family member groan or vent their angry on a constant basis because of work is just not pleasant.
Enacting positive work-life policies means thatthe company gets the same (or improved) output, increased loyalty, and fewer health costs while the employees are happier due to less conflict in their lives which is greatly appreciated by the family. This appreciation increases employee satisfaction, decreases family-to-work conflict and benefits the company. Now that’s WIN-WIN!
Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. With all my pleas for self-advocacy this habit may seem counter-intuitive at first. Before we can start asking for changes or accommodations we need to understand where the other side is coming from. For employees there may be reasons as to why you may get that call or home or have to pull in extra hours beyond your boss being a controlling jerk. There may be legal reasons or company policies that prohibit certain work arrangements as well for whatever reason. Employers should listen to why their staff want changes in their current situation. At its most base level, an employee coming to a supervisor asking for a change in the routine/practice/policy is a sign of some form of discontentment and should be listened to. That discord could be as simple as a misunderstanding about job functions/expectations and as serious major problems at home or within the office. In any case, understand the entire situation before conclusions or arguments are made.
Habit 6: Synergize. Synergy says 1+1=5. When people are working together, listening to each other, and looking out for everybody’s best interests then a powerful and addictive positive synergy is created. What I love about synergy as a work-life concept is that it embraces multiple alternatives and truly is focused on the end goal (see Habit 2). That’s what success and leadership is about. Finding what works in any situation is at the heart of effective work-life balance implementation as well.
As we move from independence to INTER-dependence we see a shift from me to we. When work-life balance becomes a team effort then we come up with the most effective and fair ways for all parties to be successful. Moving towards interdependence also means we are focused on long term success rather than trying to put out short-term, immediate fires. Next week….the 7th Habit and the one that is all encompassing of work-life balance: Sharpening the Saw.
Paul Artale is a motivational speaker who specializes in Labor and Industrial Relations. He is also a keynote speaker and facilitator. Please visit http://www.paulartale.com for more information. Posted