Obtaining work-life balance is a constant challenge. It is a balancing act for us to ensure that our lives are operating satisfactorily and our work is fulfilling as well. However, for managers, it isn’t good enough that you just keep yourself afloat. Managers have a responsibility to model and support our employees’ need for balance in their lives as well. It might be hard to believe, but some people are better at balancing their lives than others. As managers, being great at leadership also means ensuring that our employees are lead in the best direction concerning work-life balance.
When I seek to obtain more balance in my life, I usually go through the 4 R’s of Balance. This is a process in which over the years has proven to be very instrumental in leading me to balance in my life. The 4 R’s of Balance are recall, reevaluate, reset, and re-activate. You can read all about the 4R’s of Balance by reading this post. In short, these steps will get you and your employees one step closer to having a wonderful work-life balance.
Although as a leader, you know how to guide yourself through this process, it is important for us as leaders to also help our employees through this process when they show signs of disarray. A leader should always ask key questions to determine the need of their employee. If a leader doesn’t ask, then they typically won’t have the insight to know exactly what is happening in their employees lives. When you don’t know, then the disarray in your employees lives can have implications in the workplace. Let’s work through the 4 steps and see how you can help model balance for your employees.
If you find that your employee is having trouble with their work-life balance, you will need to inquire with them to gain knowledge as to the full scope of their problems. Here are a few simple questions that can help them recall their situation.
- Talk to me about what is going on?
- What all do you have on your plate? Personally and professionally?
- Taking everything into consideration, what are your priorities?
These three questions will start to help your employee to open up about what is happening with them, and through some additional questioning you will be able to find out what they are juggling and then be able to assist. Next, let’s discuss how you can help your employee understand their situation a bit more.
When you are in the re-evaluate process with your employee, you have to help them recognize and re-prioritize what is important at that current moment. Sometimes you may find that their situation at home is dire, and they need a more lax environment. Other times, you may see that they need more support on an assignment. Let’s take a look at some questions that can help you go deeper with your employee.
- What were your expectations?
- What actually happened that was different than your expectations?
- If you could make a different choice in this situation, what would it be?
Some people might think that this might be getting too much into the business of their employees, but I beg to differ. What is going on in your employees lives can help you best dictate how to manage your work amongst your employees. This process also can help to prevent burnout. Help them understand the big picture and how you will be supporting them with it.
After coming to terms with everything happening in their lives, your employees might understand what needs to be shifted in order for them to have more bandwidth to handle their lives. You can help them come to terms, by asking these questions.
- What is your priority in this situation?
- Is there anything that you would take off our plate if you could?
- Who do you need to delegate to (at work, at home) to get this off your plate
- How can I best help you in getting back to a new normal?
- How are you doing with managing your time as it relates to your priorities?
Let those that you are leading know that you care about what they are working on, what they have going on, and what their priorities are. If you can get your employees to trust you with their priority list then that means a lot. After up understand what they need to do, the next step is helping them do it.
After you understand your employees priorities and have helped them with resetting their expectations, you will now have to help them act on their plan. This means that you may have to help them reallocate resources on a work project. You may even need to find a project to help fit their need for career growth. Whatever it is, try to help your employee with the areas in which they are struggling.
If through this process your employee delivers the news that they can no longer do a project, try to understand their situation and meet them by accepting their need for relief. Of course, not all businesses can afford to give such grace, but if you can, it might be worth it in the long run.
Helping your employees to better understand their world is necessary to do as a leader. An employee that can learn and understand this process, will be such a valuable employee. They will be valuable because they learn to set priorities, and will live by what they set. I can’t think of a greater gift as a leader to have an employee that knows when to say no, or knows in what seasons they can give 150%.
Finally, making sure that you are modeling the work-life balance culture is pretty key in supporting your employees. If you know your employee has a family, or likes to be completed with work at a specific hour, respect it, and do what you can to ensure that you don’t cross their boundary. Help your employees feel good about their work, themselves, and their priorities.
How is your interaction with your direct reports? Have you done a variation of this process and it worked for you? Would love to hear your feedback.