The business press is paying much attention to work life quality issues since the announcement that Yahoo homeworkers were being asked to return to the office. A quality work life experience is critical to performance. In these days of doing more and more with less, we need teams made up of individuals that feel whole and balanced, not scattered and frazzled. There is one area that is often overlooked in this discussion; the leader’s role in creating that state of mind.
The leaders and managers I work with regularly do not fully grasp how powerful they are in creating this balance. I don’t measure work life balance by the hours spent at or away from the workplace. As long as I am doing work that matters, using my best gifts, and receive some acknowledgement that it made a difference, I have the mental well being I need to feel. A leader makes a difference in how their team members feel when they arrive home to their family. Coming home feeling like you had a great day at work, can lead to a great day at home. Unfortunately, the reverse also applies.
Here are a few things you can do as a leader to help your team members improve the quality of the work and home life:
- Talk about the value of an employee’s contribution rather than just a review of performance metrics. Let them know what difference they make.
- Have meaningful conversations about their career hopes and aspirations. Help them get there with counsel and development.
- Ask what you can do to help them become more effective in their chosen work. Then do it.
- Recognize excellence. In person. Often.
- Start each day with personal contact with each of your team. Don’t talk about work, talk about their life and their interests. Share yours. Recognize them as talented partners, not labor.
- Make sure you see them before they leave for home. Again, express your gratitude and give them a smile to take home. Just as a standing ovation brings the musician back, so does honest appreciation for your team’s efforts. Daily.
Since we spend more time at work than we do with our families, we as leaders, provide the foundation everyday for balance and satisfaction. It’s the right thing to do and it’s good business.