Setting the Right Example for Work-Life Balance

Posted on April 16, 2012.

When did it become more respectable to say you work “like crazy” than to say “my family is always my priority”?  Bragging about how many hours you work has replaced bragging about your children.   The reality is that we actually work much less than our forefathers. So kudos to Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg for coming out publicly and admitting she leaves work every day at 5:30pm to have dinner with her children. 

It’s a shame that a statement like that made national news. As managers and leaders, you can be like Sheryl Sandberg and re-establish a culture where balance isn’t a dirty word.   Here’s how:

  1. Lead by example. When the boss comes in at 7am and leaves at 7pm, the expectation has been set. Most people feel that to get a good review or a promotion they need to emulate the work habits of their boss.  I know you’re busy, but is it really necessary to be physically in the office for 10-12 hours a day? Once you start keeping more regular hours, your head will spin with how fast your team will follow suite.
  2. Reward good time management. In my experience, the people that tend to burn the candle at both ends are often the most disorganized. Are these the same people whose office looks like a tornado hit?  Or seem to miss every deadline? People that find a way to work smarter, stay organized and meet deadlines should be rewarded not chastised because they leave the office every day at 5pm.
  3.  Create a results only environment.  As a boss, when you publicly cite the long hours one of your employees puts in, you’ve basically communicated that the time in the office is more important the results.  In a true results only work environment, hours worked is never a factor in rewards or recognition-only results.

Hopefully, in the not too distant future, people will stop telling you how many hours they work and start telling you about what they’ve accomplished in both the home and work life.