Is it more time you want or is it something else?
I do a lot of work with leadership teams, helping them to develop a deeply empathetic understanding of each other and the people they serve. One of the ways we do this is to hold empathy conversations which we then synthesize down to what it is people either want or need in order to be comfortable with change.
Time and time again the issue of time (did you see what I did there?) comes up. Time is that scarce commodity that none of us ever seem to have enough of and it is not something you can hoard or get back. The other interesting thing about time is that it has the ability to expand or contract depending on the how much time you have to do a task. For example if I have five hours to write one of these posts it will take me five hours, or as is my current reality, if it is now Wednesday evening and the post is still not written, then I only have the one hour flight from Wellington to Auckland to get it done, and do it I will.
Recently I was with a leadership team who had heard really clearly from the people in their organisation that they wanted more time so that they could have a work-life balance. This resulted in a couple of really interesting conversations.
Conversation No 1: Work-Life Balance - what is this exactly?
Work-life balance is a really tricky notion for any leader to navigate because it is enacted in as many ways as there are people in the organisation. I’m fascinated by leadership so it is quite normal to find me reading the latest leadership book on my holiday. Does this mean I don’t have a work-life balance? I’d argue work-life balance is being able to choose what I want to do even if I am pursuing work endeavours outside the official parameters of work. Does this mean that everyone else in my field of work should read leadership books on their holidays? Absolutely not! Work-life balance is being able to choose how you balance your work and your life.
If you love your work then do you ever actually go to work or are you living your life doing the work you love?
Conversation No 2: How do you give people the right amount of time?
We know that giving people more time doesn't solve the problem as tasks expand to fit the time available. And even if you give people more time they still would probably not get everything they need to do, done.
In the end we decided that the best way we could help people achieve their work-life balance and have sufficient time to do all they needed to do was to help them to figure out how best to manage their role.
Too many people, including the writer of this post, forget that even though they might be able to do something doesn't mean they have to. It is alright at times to say no or to postpone something to a more convenient time. I love the saying that done is better than perfect but I struggle to live it!
Too often we are our own worst enemies when it comes to managing time and yet time is our most precious resource. Perhaps work life balance is more about which people we spend the most time with rather than how we actually spend our time.
The plane has landed, time is up...
Til next time,
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