While the thought of trading in the rat race of an office building or major corporation, and working from home, may sound highly appealing, the reality is, this transition is often more challenging than most people believe. When you’ve gotten used to the all-work structure of an office, coming home and working in the midst of your kids and home life can be like a splash of cold water. How do you manage your family life, without sacrificing work ethic or the deadlines that don’t slow down?
I know from personal experience that working from home is no walk in the park. Whether it’s kids pulling on my arm, ready for a snack, or my husband calling from his office, asking me to pick up the dry-cleaning, remaining task oriented has been something I’ve had to learn as I go. Although I know there are times when I need to remain flexible and allow for interruptions, for the most part, my work must remain a priority.
If you’re transitioning from office to home and are worried your work might suffer, the key is balance. Without it, you’ll feel as if you’re juggling ten glass plates all on your own. The following tips have proven helpful in my own work journey and I’m able to keep my family life in order while maintaining my profession.
Dedicate a space to work.
There is a reason why office buildings and cubicles exist – they are dedicated spaces where people complete work-related tasks. If one of the reasons you’re considering working from home is to escape the cubicle, trust me – I’ve been there. Although I’m not suggesting replicating a cubicle in your home, I am saying that a dedicated work space in your home is absolutely essential to success.
If you have a room you can turn into your office, do so. If not, dedicate a corner of a quiet space to your office. The kitchen table or the living room couch is probably not the best space to spread your stuff out. Papers are easily lost or spilled on and the distractions are numerous. For me, going out and buying a room partitioner when I first started saved me from hours of insanity and distraction.
Have all the essentials in place.
The great part of working at an office is that everything you need is right there. A printer? No problem. Fax machine? Your corporation probably has several. When you transition home, however, you may need to go out and buy these essentials. Do this right away, so there’s no scrambling at the last minute when an important deadline comes around.
I like having everything in my workspace. That means the printer is right where I can reach it, and my fax machine is just steps away. Even though other members of my family make use of these items every so often, they still remain in my office, regardless of who needs to use them. Whatever your tools are – keep them where you work.
If your office is a mess of supplies and papers, then set aside some time to get it in pristine condition. Purchase supplies and containers to keep your things attractively organized. Knowing where everything is helps me keep my cool and manage my work more effectively.
Organization is essential.
If you’re a naturally organized person, this tip is like second-nature for you already. However, I know that I need every other tool out there to keep myself on track. When you’re managing work deadlines at the same time as soccer practice and doctor appointments, a planner will become your go-to.
Purchase a large calendar and write out all your tasks for the month. Try to do this at the beginning of every month, for as far out as you can plan. When dates are nailed down far in advance, you know what’s coming up and therefore, what you can say yes, and no, to. I’ve found that a daily planner is helpful, as well. Being able to create and check-off items from a daily to-do list makes me feel more accomplished and in control of my day.
Set your hours.
Working from 9-5 certainly has its drawbacks, but truthfully, the structure of a workday is often what keeps people successful. The same applies when working from home. Not having a set work time really throws a wrench in your success, something I learned the hard way.
I find it’s best to plan your work day around your family, especially if you have kids. When your kids are off to school for the day, settle down in your office and get to work. If you work steadily through the school day, that’s a good chunk of time spent on work-related tasks. As important as it is to start when you say you will, it’s equally important to finish on time, too. My kids find it frustrating when I say I’ll be finished by four, and I’m still pounding on the keyboard come 5 o’clock. Stick to your hours. You’ll have a happier family because of it.
Make it clear you’re working.
Just because you are home doesn’t mean that you are free. Although one of the hardest things to learn about working from home, it is also one of the most essential. When I began working from home, friends felt free to call and talk for hours, and I often let myself get caught in this trap. However, your friends, and your family, need to understand that work must get done even though it’s getting done from home. Let your loved ones know that you have a job that needs to get done, and you’d love to socialize, but after work. Difficult? Yes. But necessary? Absolutely.
At this point, you may be wondering if working from home is really worth it. Let me tell you from personal experience – yes. While it does require a high amount of discipline and time to learn how to manage the balancing act, in the end, you’ll find much more joy in your work and in your family. Begin setting boundaries early, and working from home will become a breeze.
About the Author: Naomi Shaw is a freelance writer in Southern California. As a mom who works at home, she knows how challenging it is to keep a balance and distinction between family and work. These tips have been some of the most helpful when transitioning to working at home, and she enjoys helping other women find success in their work ventures.
Today’s dads are working hard to be “better” fathers than previous generations. No one is saying that that those generations of dads were not good fathers, times are simply changing and dads today are making it clear that they want to raise their children differently.
While dads are making family time a bigger priority than their fathers and grandfathers did, their dedication to a thriving professional career has not changed. Corporate culture, especially in larger companies, doesn’t always mesh with a dad’s desire for more family time. Because of this, many working dads are finding themselves struggling to juggle a work-life balance, as women have been doing for decades.
However, some companies are evolving with the times and improving their paternity leave programs as well as utilizing technology to allow for more work flexibility. This includes giving dads the ability to work from home, even if it’s only for a couple of hours a day so they can cut out of the office early to pick the kids up from school.
Of course another factor is that our wives are not the women their mothers were. With more women in the workforce, in fact 40% are now the family breadwinner, the home environment has changed and so must the delegation of household responsibilities. There is increased pressure on men to be more than just a paycheck and to play an equal parenting role.
But it’s also that our generation has wanted to change and be more present in our children’s lives. To really know them and to be closely involved with shaping who our children become.
According to a Pew study, fathers in 1965 spent only 2.5 hours a week on child care, where today that number has jumped to about 7 hours. While that may not seem like much, evolution is a process and I believe that the generations of boys we are raising will do even more.
I had a great childhood and have enormous admiration, love and respect for my dad but have still strived to be a more involved father in the raising of my three children. And I hope that my sons will do even more than I’ve done for their kids.
Men are evolving. Each generation is told more and more that it’s okay to cry, to be vulnerable and to love. So when we hold our babies in our arms for the very first time – we do. All of those thoughts we had as kids “I wish my dad were here,” “I’ll do that when I’m a dad,” come flooding back and we make a conscious effort to be different. Some of those promises we keep and some falter under the pressures of careers and mortgages. But the point is that we get a little closer to being the dad that we wanted to be and hopefully, as we reflect on the dad we said we would be – and the dad we actually are – we continue to evolve.
Chris Duchesne is the VP of Care.com’s Global Employer Program, Workplace Solutions. He brings more than 15 years of experience in HR technology to Care.com, the largest online care destination in the world with 8 million members spanning 16 countries. A key member of the leadership team, he oversees the Global Workplace Solutions program that provides customized, cost-effective programs that make Care.com’s suite of services available to institutional and corporate clients, their employees and families. A father of three small children, Chris knows first-hand the challenges working parents face and brings that experience to his role.
When you have a team that’s running on all cylinders, it feels great. Your business hums along and everything is easier. But when you have that one employee who is just not performing, it can put a damper on everything. It’s harder to get momentum going for your business. Your confidence as a leader drops, which means you don’t close deals like you used to. It affects everything.
So what do you do? How do you handle that underperforming team member? We asked several business owners to see what their approach would be.
Assess the Situation
“I like to sit down with the employee to establish what the situation is. I point out the problem, offer words of encouragement, and let them know the business is counting on them. We are interested in their success and want to help, not just drive their performance numbers. I ascertain if there is something more they need from us and give them time to remedy the situation. Finally, I make a decision one way or the other. Prolonging this situation affects the morale of other employees.”
- Jim Newton, Philip James Salon
“It depends on the employee. First, we would look and try to see why they are not performing. If it is because they do not understand what is expected of them, their manager would review what is expected of them. Sometimes an employee needs a review and they become an asset to our company. Sometimes an employee does not work out in one department, but can work somewhere else, so if that is the case, we will give them a try answering phones or working in the store. If all else fails, sometimes an employee is just not a good fit for the company. If that is the case, it is better for both the employee and the employer to part ways sooner rather than later. Although it is not pleasant, eventually, it is better to do the right thing for your company and for the employee.”
- David Cohen, Moshells
Ensure They Have the Tools to Succeed
“My first inclination is reflection…have I provided the employee with the proper orientation, training, information to achieve the objective? If not, I make every effort to rectify the situation. If this isn’t the case, I speak opening and candidly with the employee, set dates with deliverables and monitor progress.”
- Mary Rownd, Interactive Project Manager, HIMSS
“Coach them. When someone is not performing, my first question is always to myself. “Have I trained them, given them all the tools and time to be successful?” Only after I have satisfied these questions will I consider a performance plan to set targets to help get them back on track.”
- Jeff Purtell, Chief Operating Officer, Acquirent
“Communication between employees and supervisors is always key in having a solid working relationship; doing it well gives the manager an opportunity to inspire and lead a team. At InterCall, we have a workforce that is all over the world, so oftentimes, employees and their supervisors are not in the same office. We use tools like audio, video and web conferencing, along with web cams, to put faces to names and voices. It really helps to establish and build a rapport, which enhances performance and allows you to do more coaching.”
- Rob Bellmar, Senior Vice President, Conferencing and Collaboration, InterCall
So, there are several approaches to handling an underperforming employee from business owners across industries. How do you handle it? What’s been effective for you?
About the Author: Brad Farris is the founder of EnMast, a community of business owners committed to being better leaders and growing better businesses. He is also principal advisor of Anchor Advisors, with experience leading businesses & business owners into new levels of growth and success. Through his work with over 100 Chicago area small businesses he has experience in guiding founders and business owners through the pitfalls and joys of growing their business. Connect with him on Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Do you like your job? Are you fully engaged in it? Though this question is one that may seem like it depends on your personality, there is a certain part of this that is hard-wired into your gender. Though it may seem like old-fashioned thinking, there is more and more evidence linking sex genes and the ability to fully engage yourself in certain tasks.
In the post-World War II era, the “typical” family dynamic had dad at work and mom at home. Though this was not always the way of the world, it was pushed to be the way things should normally be, for several reasons. The idea that women were best served as providers and should be caring for their family was often stated, and the man’s job to go out and work for the family’s income was expected.
These lines began to blur in the 1960′s and 1970′s, as the women’s lib movement pushed back, claiming the right for women to also work outside of the home, and shifting the cultural view to the idea that women can do everything that men can do, and should be expected to try.
Fast forward to the nineties and the turn of the twenty-first century, and the two-family income household had become the norm for married couples. Worker productivity and employee satisfaction became buzzwords, and companies began looking at efficiency consultants, who considered not just the best layout for a business to get the best product for its investment, but the corporate culture, and improving employee engagement.
This is a trend that has continued, and as genetics research continues to become a larger and larger factor in looking at how humans perform, gender-based accomplishment studies have come out. One of the things that has been suspected for a long time is that women are predisposed to be better multitaskers. A number of studies have confirmed this, showing that when asked to do several unrelated tasks in a short period of time, women vastly outperformed men. Men, however, are better at focusing on a single task to the exclusion of another. A famous study often quoted in psychology classes looks at men and women who were given two different stories that were simultaneously read to them, one in each ear. When they were asked to choose one story and listen to it, to the exclusion of the second, men were able to do so. Women were not.
So how do these natural brain differences translate to work engagement now? A lot of it depends on the kind of tasks that men and women are expected to do, and the varying skills needed to complete them. Traditionally, men at a management level were often required to perform many of the larger tasks, but have an assistant to help them perform the smaller, variable tasks that were expected. As the gender playing field has leveled more and more, the high-level jobs have been shown to be performed equally well by both men and women. An engagement survey would likely show equal satisfaction for both genders. Instead, the discrepancies have been shown to be more at the low income and education levels.
At the blue-collar level, there is still a gender bias when it comes to certain jobs. Technical service and repair jobs are more often chosen by men, and jobs like office manager are more often chosen by women. Though this has been partially dictated by the cultural history of these positions, the tasks expected in each job type dovetail nicely with what the brains of men and women are naturally best, and likely most fulfilled, at doing.
What do you think? Is there a notable difference in engagement based on gender? Is the difference more or less pronounced based on income and education level?
About the Author: Louise Gregory is a human resources professional specialized in employment engagement analysis and pensions management at AON. When Louise isn’t working hard in the big smoke you will find her sunbathing on the East coast. She loves cooking, writing in her new blog and trekking with her family and Benson, the house dog.
The difficulty associated with maintaining a work-life balance certainly isn’t a new saga – in fact, it likely dates all the way back to the days of the caveman. That said it’s becoming a more prominent issue for the workforce and, consequently, a more significant focal point for those in HR. If employees are facing stress in one aspect of their life, be it work or personal, it’s likely impacting their other functions as well. And in a time when productivity and innovation mean the difference between being a leader or a laggard, most firms can’t afford not to acknowledge the challenges that most in the workforce are facing.
A recent Pew study found that 56% of working mothers and 50% of working fathers find balance their work with their family life is either somewhat or very challenging. Similarly, 40% of working mothers and 34% of working fathers always feel rushed. What do these statistics mean for HR? More than half the workforce is feeling the squeeze when it comes to time and flexibility.
But working parents may be more passive about their need for a positive work-life balance than those from Gen Y. Unlike their predecessors, Millennials are explicitly demanding flexibility. In fact, 69% believe that regular office attendance is unnecessary, according to a Cisco study. What’s more, according to findings from Bentley University’s Center for Women and Business, 75% of Millennials are unwilling to compromise on their family or personal values. As a result, young top performers are choosing work environments in which the benefits are less about pay and more about creativity, personal meaning and adaptability.
Nevertheless, as baby boomers retire in mass numbers, the two generations are very quickly taking over the entire workforce which means that hiring managers and executives have to take note.
Below is a quick run-down for auditing your firms’ current culture offerings in regard to work-life balance.
Use an anonymous survey to investigate the following aspects of your employees’ life:
- Stress levels and perceived causes (i.e., time, responsibilities, work load, etc.)
- Impact of stress on productivity
- Desired options for alleviating stress (i.e., increased time flexibility, telecommuting options, mandatory breaks/no-work activities, health promotion activities, etc.)
With the results of this survey, pinpoint the issues that your workforce is facing and subsequently engage an educated trial-and-error process for implementing successful work-life balance practices. Pursue a follow-up survey after 3-6 months to ensure that the changes being made are putting your organizational culture on the right track.
This type of proactive behavior results in a domino effect of positive impacts because in addition to improving the productivity of your workforce, there is also a direct recruiting benefit. Firms that adapt to the changing wants and needs of the workforce are naturally going to improve their employer brand, or their reputation among prospective employees. In time, this will not only increase candidates’ attraction to the firm, but it will attract those individuals with the best culture fit. What’s more, the sourcing process will be less complex, reducing both time to hire and cost to hire. While all of this takes time to develop, it’s a win-win for candidates and employers alike.
Experiencing this upward spiral of hiring benefits isn’t difficult, but it does require change. In essence, the essential components to this entire process are (1) acknowledging a problem faced by the parents and millennials in the workforce that is causing a noticeable shift in work culture demands and (2) accepting short-term costs for significant long-term gains.
About the Author: Greg Moran is the President and CEO of Chequed.com, an Employee Selection and Automated Reference Checking technology suite as well as a respected author on Human Capital Management with published works including Hire, Fire & The Walking Dead and Building the Talent Edge. Greg can be found blogging at disrupthr.com, on twitter @CEOofChequed and Google+.
You don’t have to be a woman to be a good human resources manager—but, according to research, you are more likely to be. Women are the ones most likely to bring emotional intelligence to the table, according to a survey of executives, and emotional intelligence is vital to HR. In fact, at least one study has shown that almost 90 percent of leadership success comes from emotional intelligence.
Wondering what exactly emotional intelligence is? Not sure why it matters so much in human resources? Let’s take a look.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Think of it this way: In a room full of people, those with emotional intelligence continually pick up social and behavioral cues that others miss. Did that girl really mean what she said about her job, or was she exaggerating? Did that guy want to leave early, or was a conflict brewing with another person? Noticing and then understanding these kinds of situations typically come more naturally to women, although men certainly are perceptive too in varying degrees. Such insights are particularly helpful in HR, where person-to-person dynamics, perceptions, and emotions play such a pivotal role.
How Does Emotional Intelligence Benefit an HR Manager?
In recruiting, hiring, managing, and working with personnel, emotional intelligence is so important that it may actually be the determining factor between a fine HR manager and a great one. As proof of that idea, consider the following benefits that come from emotional intelligence in HR.
An HR manager who understands the ways emotions operate is an HR manager better equipped to respond to an employee’s frustrations and concerns. Nobody wants to talk to an HR manager who belittles or ignores his or her complaints. When upset staff members come to an HR manager, they respond better to the person who shows empathy for what’s bothering them.
Because emotional intelligence means being able to discern the difference between real and fake behaviors, emotionally aware HR managers have a leg up in terms of perceptions. A manager who can tell when an employee is giving lip service is better able to avoid being manipulated or deceived.
Many, if not most, personnel conflicts happen because of misunderstandings. Being able to articulate emotions—both your own and your employees’—is incredibly helpful in working towards better understanding.
The truth is, managers’ and supervisors’ interactions with employees go a long way towards determining whether or not those employees are satisfied with their jobs and willing to stick around. HR professionals who can be both firm and caring build trust with their staff members. A happy staff means reduced turnover, which is good for everyone.
In your experience in human resources, have you seen ways in which emotional intelligence is an asset? What other benefits come to your mind besides the ones outlined above?
About the author: Shanna Mallon is a writer for Straight North, a Chicago Web design firm providing specialized SEO, Web development, and other online marketing services. Follow Straight North on Twitter and Facebook.
Photo credit iStockphoto
How many times did you hit the snooze button this morning before you finally dragged yourself out from under the covers? C’mon, be honest. But let yourself snooze just one time and it quickly becomes a habit. Next thing you know, you’re sleeping so late that you have to skip breakfast. And then, the rest of your day is off track. I know it sounds cliché at this point, but breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Let’s explore the reasons why.
Having breakfast may lower your risk of developing chronic disease.
Listen up, ladies! Skipping your morning oatmeal could induce insulin resistance according to a University of Colorado School of Medicine study (presented at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society). Insulin resistance is a precursor to diabetes. Now, this doesn’t mean that men get a free pass; it just means that the study was only done with women.
This seems to support the findings from an earlier study presented in 2003 at the American Heart Association’s annual conference. According to this study, though, not only did breakfast eaters have good blood sugar levels, but they were also less likely to be obese and less likely to feel hungry later in the day.
Breakfast can energize you and keep you focused throughout the day.
A 1999 study found that a breakfast that is high in fiber and carbohydrates could help you feel less tired throughout the day. Think about that before you hit the snooze. You might think you’re energizing your body with a few minutes of much-needed rest, but snoozing in lieu of breakfast may actually make you feel more tired later in the day.
A 2012 study published in the journal Appetite found that students who ate breakfast showed greater speed and accuracy on cognitive and memory tests than students who skipped breakfast. This study found that a lack of a morning meal affected both genders, but it was more detrimental to girls than boys.
How about a bowl of granola to calm your nerves?
Think that extra five or 10 minutes of sleep will help you cope with stress better throughout the day? According to the results of a 2002 Nutritional Neuroscience study, that’s simply not the case. This study specifically tested the relationship between breakfast cereal consumption and cortisol levels. The body releases cortisol as part of its natural response to stress. So, when we’re stressed out, our cortisol levels are high. But this study found that people who ate breakfast cereal in the morning had lower cortisol levels than those who didn’t. That’s not to say that cereal is the best possible breakfast, but according to this study, it’s better than no breakfast at all.
Stress is a very serious problem in our fast-paced society. One of the biggest problems is that the things that stress us out don’t go away. Your boss is on your case; bills are unpaid; a loved one is ill. These things tend to add up and lead to chronic stress, and chronic stress tends to lead to other health issues. Having a good breakfast is one of the best stress-management tools in your toolkit.
Hitting the snooze button in the morning may be what feels good in the moment, but having breakfast is what is going to keep you feeling good throughout the day, and possibly, for years to come. So next time your body is fighting to stay asleep, give some thought to what you would be giving up for an extra 10 minutes of not-so-restful sleep.
About the Author: Deborah Enos, CN, also known as “The One-Minute Wellness Coach,” is The Health Coach for busy, working people. Deborah regularly speaks to corporations, nationwide, paring her good-health messages down to simple and fast bullet points that can impact corporate employees’ lives in 60 seconds or less. Deborah has authored two books, “Weight A Minute” and “What’s In My Suitcase?”. Deborah regularly makes appearances on NBC, FOX13, and has been featured in The Costco Connection, Parade Magazine and Self Magazine, sharing her quick approach to a healthier lifestyle. Read more about Deborah Enos at www.DeborahEnos.com or follow her on Twitter @deborahenos
Photo credit iStockphoto
When it comes to maintaining order in the workplace, negotiating employee discipline can seem like a high wire balancing act. On the one hand, we need to retain authority and some modicum of control over subordinates, but at the same time, dealing with personalities is an inherently touchy issue. After all, especially in the case of a non-fireable offense, the point is rehabbed behavior and not resentment, right?
Moreover, in this day and age of rampant lawsuits and claims of workplace discrimination, even if you have at-will employees and independent contractors making up the majority of your workforce, you need to handle discipline delicately to ensure a safe and functional work environment for everyone.
So here are some things to keep in mind when navigating the potentially murky waters of maintaining order at work through employee discipline.
Keep the issue on a “Need to Know” basis
In high pressure environments where time and money are at stake, emotions run high. Accordingly, if you believe an employee is taking advantage of the company or otherwise not living up to his end of the bargain, it can be easy to fly off the handle without taking a step back to assess the situation.
Likewise, if an employee is approached from a place of accusation or similarly confronted by multiple parties, your actions can trigger a defensive reaction rather than a willingness to engage in a calm, problem-solving discussion.
Accordingly, do not discuss your concerns about your employee with anyone else before ensuring their involvement is absolutely essential or their knowledge of the situation is necessary. You cannot un-ring a bell so don’t sound the alarm lightly.
Stick to the current, relevant facts
Yes, that means you should incorporate all three when you address your employee:
- Current: Don’t bring past issues up that have been dealt with before, unless they are prior examples of the same type of behavior.
- Relevant: Keep the discussion centered on the task at hand and avoid incorporating unrelated information that has no bearing on the current situation.
- Facts: This is the most important aspect of your disciplinary action – do not mention feelings, thoughts or emotions at this point. You need to tell her what she has factually done or not done to warrant “the talk” and be prepared to back up your position with actual proof if necessary.
Once you have set the stage for the discussion, allow your employee to fully respond to the current, relevant facts you have presented.
Perception may be reality but that doesn’t make it true
It is often said that there are 3 sides to every story: mine, yours and the truth. Unfortunately, most of us stop the investigation after we mentally process our own perception of an event – what we see is what we believe is actually going on and we make assumptions about a person’s motivation for acting in a certain way.
However, one of the most important things to remember is that the way we perceive an event is not the whole story and we need more facts to truly, accurately and fairly judge a situation. Be willing to listen and do not enter into a discussion with your mind made up one way or another.
As a final note, by establishing clear and unambiguous guidelines and expectations up front, you can avoid many issues and misunderstandings before they develop into full-blown problems.
What are some of the ways you have effectively handled employee discipline?
About the Author: Allison Rice is the Marketing Director for Amsterdam Printing (www.amsterdamprinting.com), a leading provider of custom and promotional pens and other promotional products to grow your business and thank customers. Allison regularly contributes to the Promo & Marketing Wall blog, where she provides actionable business tips.
Days, weeks, and months of leading a team can prove to be very exhausting. People are always asking things of you and while you love to give, the cycle of take-take-take can leave your well running dry.
A vacation is a great way to break out of that cycle and refresh your attitude. Think back to your last vacation. Did you feel relaxed, joyful, fulfilled? Did you gain a fresh perspective and perhaps return to work with an ignited flame of creativity?
Not only will you return from a vacation as a better version of yourself, relaxed and ready to reenergize your team, but your absence could also provide room for some serious growth. Here’s how…
Organize and Tie Loose Ends
Have you ever left on a vacation with your house is disarray? After days of relaxation you come home to a dizzying and depressing mess that literally pops your blissful bubble. The same fundamentals apply to your work demands; the only way you can truly capitalize on the rejuvenating benefits of a vacation is if you prepare yourself for a clean and smooth return.
Accomplish this by tying up all loose ends. Put in the extra time before your vacation to get ahead and push all formal follow-ups to a few days after your return. Regardless of your vacation’s destination, plan for a return jet-lag day where you don’t necessarily have to dive into anything, instead you can lightly skim over the week ahead, acclimate yourself, and organize some more. In short: work through your lunch breaks and put in the late nights pre-vacation, so that your Zen feelings can keep lasting upon your return to work.
Delegate Deadlines, Duties and Follow Ups
It is a good idea to formally notify your team of your planned time out-of the-office. Reemphasize their duties on ongoing projects and understand that it’s OK for deadlines to take place while you are way. It will be your team’s responsibility to follow-up with you however you see fit. The whole point of a vacation is to take a break from work, so consider a suggestion as simple as a Friday follow-up email. This way each team member can still feel accountable while giving you some quick updates on their progress.
If you want to savor your time away, then comfort yourself by appointing a person who can answer questions and make real-time decisions in your place. Obviously pick a person who is trustworthy and, almost more important, pick someone who displays your similar style of leadership and execution. Give this single person your emergency contact information (only after describing what truly constitutes as an emergency).
Believe In Your Team
One of the main hesitations for a leader to take a vacation is that he or she thinks the team cannot function without them being there. (Guard your egos, management: this is not true.) While your unique leadership style and encouraging attributes keep your team organized, it also can stifle them into some stiff routines.
Allow your team some space to breathe while you are way. Let them know that you consider this time as a chance for people to test out their own styles while proving themselves. When you return, discuss with your team the differences they experienced in your absence. Perhaps the freedom allowed them to discover a more productive approach to work that is both functional and inspired. You never know the new directions your employees can surprise you with; utilize your vacation as a canvas for them to both breathe and explore.
Regardless of your overall approach, it is important for every leader to protect their right to live. Whether you are hoping to reconnect with your family, save yourself from burnout, or maybe even make some unique and friendly business connections, a vacation serves multiple needs.
Life is short and work is long. Commit to refreshing yourself and your efforts every now and then with a vacation that you not only deserve- but you really need! When done correctly it can reconnect you with your work and creativity, all while affording your team time and space for professional growth.
What other tips can ensure that leaders will have a great vacation?
Photo credit iStockphoto
In a competitive business climate, retaining key employees is vital for the health of the company. But when these key employees are women, many corporations and industries continue to be befuddled as to how to retain this valuable cohort.
Indeed, it’s surprising how many supposedly modern institutions are caught in a time-warp. Unfair compensation, gender imbalance in senior management positions, inflexible schedules and even active discouragement of female employees continue to plague companies large and small.
The good news is, a few simple steps can vastly improve conditions for female employees. And the benefits of maintaining a women-friendly environment far outweigh the costs. Retaining employees – male or female – is just good business sense when you consider both the obvious and hidden costs of a high rate of employee turnover.
One of the more obvious steps is fair compensation. It should go without saying that, after years of being treated as second-class employees, women first and foremost want to feel as equally valued as their male counterparts. Fair wages are just a start.
Fair compensation should also include bonuses and benefits. And women don’t want to feel like they will be punished for wanting a work/life balance. The lack of a flexible schedule is cited as the number one reason employees leave for other jobs, so companies should ensure they are able to accommodate their workers’ need to spend time with family or on other projects. Telecommuting, a compressed work week, collaborative scheduling and self-scheduling can all factor into employee happiness and job satisfaction. Maternity benefits, childcare, and maternity leave should be included in employment packages.
Greater gender balance in the workplace, especially in leadership positions, can pave the way for women to feel that they too can succeed. When women see other women rising within a company, they realize that it is possible for them to rise to senior positions as well.
To this end, the smart employer will consider introducing mentorship programs to encourage high-potential female employees to aspire to senior leadership roles. Women’s networks can be critical retention tools as well, particularly for employees at their mid-career level. Retraining and re-entry training for women who have temporarily left the workforce are also valuable tools in your retention box.
Professional development, career coaching, and grooming for bigger projects and promotions, as well as guidance regarding each woman’s career trajectory, are invaluable in retaining female employees.
Executive presence training is one option to consider. A 2012 Forbes article cited a study by the non-profit New York organization Center for Talent Innovation that said being perceived as leadership material is essential to being promoted into leadership positions. The article went on to say that “the 268 senior executives surveyed said ‘executive presence’ counts for 26% of what it takes to get promoted.”
Women who are trained to develop an executive-type persona in terms of gravitas – that is, confidence, poise under pressure and decisiveness – as well as communication and appearance become more confident and are better able to command a room, thereby clearing a path to high-stakes and high-visibility positions.
By utilizing some or all of these ideas, companies can benefit from a healthier and more balanced work environment. It just makes sense.
As VP of Marketing, Bimal Parmar manages the global marketing strategy and execution at Celayix. With over 20 years industry experience, Bimal is responsible for making sure the world learns about the benefits of Celayix’s solutions that include: advanced employee scheduling, time and attendance, employee communication as well as integration modules for payroll and billing. Before joining Celayix, Bimal was Vice President of Marketing at Faronics, a leading provider of IT solutions for the Education vertical where he helped grow revenue over 50% and launched exciting new solutions. Prior to that Bimal held senior marketing and product roles at technology companies such as Business Objects and McAfee Security where he gained significant international experience working with global companies such as Microsoft, Dell, Sony, HP, Orange, Telefonica and Ricoh.
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