Archive for May, 2007

Random Thoughts–“Because I Did It That Way”-itis; Michelle Obama and Roger Clemens

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On this day before the unofficial start of Memorial Day weekend, I thought I’d share some random work+life fit related observations and insights that wouldn’t necessarily fill an entire posting, but are interesting nonetheless….

Coverage of the Tuck/Aquent/Work+Life Fit SurveysFast Company, Bloomberg, and Time

“Because I Did It That Way”-itis: Over the past month, I’ve found myself having the same conversation with three male managers over the age of 50 years old. And the common theme is that they find themselves sometimes resisting offering flexibility to members of their team because they personally weren’t able to work that way when they were at that level. And in all three cases, the issues related back to the time they had sacrificed with their children.

As one man noted, “I look at these young parents who want to work from home periodically, or leave early and then work later after their kids go to bed, and I am jealous. I think of all the times I had to work late getting a project done in the office, and what I missed because of it. It’s not that they can’t effectively work from home or shift their hours, it’s just that I wish I could have done it. So I do find myself resentful and resistant.”

My response is always the same. First, I applaud them for their candor. Until we all start being honest about the outdated “because I did it that way,” beliefs that keep us from innovatively rethinking work, real change will be limited. Second, I point out that they had no choice but to work the way they did when their children were little. We didn’t have the technology and the 24/7 time zone business reality. So they need to give themselves a break. And finally, flexibility can still benefit them. Even though they aren’t parents of young children, they may be children of aging parents, or someone who wants to work in retirement. The flexibility ship has not sailed for them, so work with your team to make it a mutually-beneficial work+life fit reality.

Work+Life “Fit” Choices of Michelle Obama and Roger Clemens: Recently, the work+life “fit” choices of Michelle Obama and Roger Clemens made headlines. And they highlight two important issues—Language and Possibilities.

Tuck/Aquent/WLF Survey Results–Recognizing Fundamental Change in Work, Career Paths and Talent Management

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While evidence continues to mount that the realities of work and career paths have fundamentally and permanently changed, formal career and talent management strategies have not kept pace. This lag between recognizing that a shift has occurred and adapting organizationally and individually was obvious from the results of the two surveys I recently conducted in partnership with Tuck Business School’s Executive Education at Dartmouth and Aquent, Inc. a marketing resource company. Closing the gap requires organizations, leaders, and individuals to answer critical questions that aren’t currently being discussed. I will share some of these questions in a minute. But, first, the results of our survey.

The survey results, along with best practices for individuals and organizations, will be discussed in a series of Tuck sponsored Back in Business panel discussions entitled “Toppling the Career Ladder: Pathways for Today’s Talent” through the end of May in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Boston. (Click here to learn more about dates and locations) Tuck’s Back in Business Program are featured in an article by Lisa Belkin in today’s New York Times.

Here are some highlights of the our survey findings (Click here for executive summary of findings):

Critical Grad Career Strategy– Managing Work+Life “Fit”

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If new graduates want to succeed in today’s 24/7, high-tech, global work reality, managing their work+life fit needs to be added to their list of critical career strategies. But unfortunately few colleges are making this part of their career services curriculum. Hopefully, with the publication of a new book called Getting from College to Career, by Lindsey Pollak, that will begin to change.

Pollak lays out “90 things to do before you join the real world,” including a key interviewing preparation step, “Figure in Work-Life Fit.” From day one, college grads who read her book will think about strategically putting boundaries around their work and life in a way that meets their needs as well as the needs of the business. And they will be ahead of the game because they will know:

Job-hopping vs. “Grindhopping”

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Mommy Wars RIP?: It looks like the myth of the Mommy Wars may finally be drawing its last breath (see also Washington Post). Hopefully, now we can focus on the real question: How do we all—men, women, single people, parents, eldercare providers, retirees–work and have a personal life in a 24/7, high-tech, global work reality?

Now back to the blog…

The conscious intention behind our work+life “fit” choices makes a difference.

Job-hopping – The myth that the “Grass is Greener”

In January, I appeared on Maggie Mistal’s Career Talk radio show on the Martha Stewart Network. I talked about the fact that people always seem to think that the work/life “balance” grass will be greener at their next job. Only to realize once they’ve made a change that their same work+life challenges still exist.

Mistal, who is a career coach, agreed. “I am seeing more and more people hopping from job to job every two years. Their current job is too stressful, so they leave and get a new job. No one expects much from them for the first the first six months so they get a break, but then all of a sudden the same stresses from the old job appear and the next thing you know, they are looking for another new job. And the cycle continues.”

We concurred that a new job is not necessarily the answer. It’s better to try to partner with your employer to find a better “fit,” one that meets your needs as well as the needs of the business. Chances are, if you are a good employee, your manager will say yes for at least a trial period. The worst thing that can happen is they say no, then you are right back where you started. And the truth is no employer will ever be able to give you “balance.” No matter where you work, you are responsible for managing your work+life fit.

Then, there is “Grindhopping”—Or, job-hopping with a conscious purpose

Shortly after I appeared on Mistal’s show a fascinating book landed on my desk