(THE ASSISTANT) SAYS:
"Sandy, I can no longer
work late. I must pick up my daughter at the childcare center by 6:00 p.m."
(THE MANAGER) SAYS:
"Frank, I need you here!
I work 90 hours a week and I need you here to support me."
The employee has personal needs that take
precedence over his work. The manager is completely focused on work and is
angry to be deserted by her competent assistant.
Frank is an excellent employee. Sandy has been very pleased
with him for the two years he has been supporting her. Unfortunately, the work
hours have gradually increased to 60 hours per week. For personal reasons,
Frank needs to put limits on his work hours so that he can meet his family
SOLUTION: WHAT THE ASSISTANT CAN DO.
Frank genuinely likes his job and respects Sandy's
capabilities. They make a great team. He would prefer to keep this job, but if
necessary, is willing to look elsewhere. Frank can consider the following
- State his needs objectively.
Frank needs to clearly communicate his
boundaries with Sandy. He also needs to communicate his willingness to support
her in whatever way he can.
- Be creative.
Frank can offer suggestions on how he can still
support Sandy. Perhaps he can set up a home office and work at home for two
hours after his children go to bed. He and Sandy can take a good hard look at
their output and decide what they can let go. Perhaps some of his workload can
be shifted to another employee.
- Stick to his guns.
If he and Sandy cannot determine a mutually
acceptable method of working together, then Frank needs to look for a position
that better suits his life balance needs.
SOLUTION: WHAT THE MANAGER CAN DO.
Our employee survey research, with over 50 participating
organizations, shows that almost half (43 percent) of the workforce feels they
are unable to balance their work and personal lives to their satisfaction. In
many cases, this is due to the lack of support they receive from their
immediate supervisors. Sandy needs to consider the following ways to respond to
Frank in this situation.
- Be supportive
It is unrealistic for Sandy to expect Frank to
work such long hours unless this was part of their original working agreement.
Sandy needs to tell Frank that she fully supports his need to leave by 6:00 and
that she would like to work with him to develop solutions to the problem.
- Develop improved work methods.
Sandy needs to step back and take a look at how
she can reengineer Frank's job so that the work can be accomplished before he
must leave for the day. Undoubtedly, there are many things that can be
completed before, rather than after, 6:00 PM. This may require new systems,
procedures, or work methods.
- Modify her own behavior.
Sandy needs to realize that there are many
things she can do to improve the workflow in the office. This will require her
to develop improved methods for managing her time and how she conducts her
- Ask Frank for suggestions.
Rather than trying to develop the solutions
herself, Sandy needs to ask Frank for his ideas about how the work can be
accomplished in a more timely manner. Also, if the ideas come from Frank, he is
more likely to implement them.
Conflict between the demands of work and personal lives is a
major problem in today's society. Employers need to continually work with
employees to develop methods for improving work-life balance. This will help
provide more productive work environments and healthier human lives.