Thursday, 28 October 2010

A Balanced Leader

by Chris Ortiz

Jobs Vacancy, Employment, Employment Jobs

Finding a balance between work and family is tough. Both require devotion, loyalty, respect, and hard work. Unfortunately, in today’s society, those attributes seem to be more directed toward our jobs. There is a serious imbalance in how American workers juggle the hours they are at work and how much time is spent with their families. Sound like you?

The United States is now the most overworked industrialized nation in the world and manufacturing has become one of the main contributors to this dilemma. Is it worth it? Can people be productive after 10, 11, or 12 hours a day? It is time for a change. The 40-hour workweek has run off into the sunset, and working overtime has become a reality for millions of Americans. With the onslaught of jobs going overseas and massive corporate downsizing, Americans are overwhelmed with large workloads, high expectations, and the pressure to work as much as possible.

So why is it like this? Many leaders today have lost the ability to recognize skill sets in their employees. Also, they forget to take interest in the personal lives of those employees making them rich. Employees' families are perceived as the internal competitor to upper management, both vying for time. Extra hours rarely equal better performance. Corporate leaders and even middle management embrace the workaholics of a company as a perception of loyalty, while the truth is that employees who have very good time management skills and can juggle multiple projects at one time are more valuable than someone who is simply in the building for 12 hours a day.

Employees need to be embraced as the only true asset to a company. Turnover is extremely expensive when compared to investing time and money into enhancing those assets. That's why it's important to not only identify employees' positive attributes, but also their shortcomings. Managers need to balance the workloads of their employees to ensure their success. And at the same time, managers should provide the necessary training and challenges that will provide the employees with an opportunity to make them more valuable to the company.

My leadership approach differs from traditional management techniques. I call it the 5 Leadership Rules for Creating a Work/Life Balance

1. Hire People with Passions Outside of Work

It is good to surround yourself with employees who understand the importance of family and leisure life. People who have passions in life generally have a good work ethic. I want well-rounded employees on my staff because creating an environment with diverse people is exciting.

2. Do NOT Hire Workaholics

Workaholics create imbalances within a group. My people are allowed to have a life outside of work and their fellow employees should respect those lives. Imbalances create animosity between people. Tension can build because those working excessive overtime will start to question the loyalty of others. I do not want to hear “leaving already?” I work very little overtime myself. I do not want to give a bad example to my people.

3. Create a Comfortable Interview

My interviewing process is more centered on them as a person. I ask perspective employees what kind of interests they have outside of work. Do they ski? Are they affiliated with certain organizations and clubs? I ask them what kind of hobbies they enjoy.

I try to create an interview process that encourages a sense of self worth and lets them know that I will recognize the importance of their personal life. Toward the middle of the interview I talk about my family and how I enjoy being home with them. The positions in my department are highly technical and job candidates come to me with all the necessary skills needed to perform the work. My job should be to balance their workloads to ensure they can enjoy life away from work.

4. Be a Result Driven Leader

I am a result-driven leader and I do not care about hours. Most of my employees are salaried and I pay them for results, not time. If someone can get their work accomplished in thirty-five hours a week; great! If they feel the need to work forty-five hours one week to get caught up on an assignment, so be it. However, it is my responsibility as a leader to identity their positive qualities and balance their workloads so they can be successful for me and be away from work to enjoy their lives.

5.Create an Efficient Workplace

It is very difficult to have work/life balance when your company operates inefficiently. I create structure and organization within my department so my people know precisely what needs to be done. My employees do not walk around looking for things to do. Their assignments are given to them every week. An inefficient workplace automatically creates overtime because employees participate in wasted work.

So, what have I gained? This philosophy has allowed my department to have the lowest turnover and absenteeism in the company. My people are at work and on time everyday. They are able to leave work for family emergencies and can adjust their hours as needed as long as their work is complete. Since I am result driven, I expect my people to complete their work as required, and if they slip, it is addressed. They are given a lot freedom, and when that freedom is abused it is dealt with in a positive professional manner. Turnover is expensive and I don't have the time to constantly be hiring people.

We as leaders need to realize that a company's people are its number one asset. Leaders have a tremendous amount of responsibility not only to improve the bottom line but also in the way we improve it.

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