Tuesday, 16 February 2010

How to achieve a Work-Life Balance

Here's a great leadership tip for anyone in a management position who finds themselves working too hard.

A column appearing in the The Wall Street Journal makes a strong case that effective managers aren’t necessarily the people who work longer hours. In fact, the article argues that one of the tell-tale signs of effective management is that people might actually work less. Many managers and leaders are being swamped by an ever-increasing workload and the pressure to balance work and family commitments. The constant battle to achieve more with less can only be achieved by making some definitive decisions.

“New research suggests some have reached the point where a paradoxical truth applies: To get more done, we need to stop working so much,” claims this article.

Citing the results of a groundbreaking four-year study to be published in The Harvard Business Review, this column claims that scheduling purposeful time away from work responsibilities, “forced teams to communicate better, share more personal information and forge closer relationships.”

It’s important to note that two of the firms profiled in the study are top-performers Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and professional services firm KPMG. Originally, BCG executives virtually had to threaten employees in the study to take time off.  By the end of the study, the firm was so pleased with the performance improvement from this initiative that it is rolling out similar efforts in other groups. “It really changes how we do our work,” said a senior BCG partner.

“Amid layoffs and burgeoning workloads, it seems, working any time, all the time, has become a habit,” shares this Wall Street Journal article. “A survey of 605 U.S. workers by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 70% of employees work beyond scheduled time and on weekends; more than half blame ‘self-imposed pressure.’”

The article also introduces an interesting differentiator in workplace efficiency between “good intensity work” – that positive “buzz” you get from constant learning and involvement – and “bad intensity work” – which is the negative feeling you get from never having time away from your job, from foggy priorities or a lack of control over your life.

“Setting limits on work motivates people to work smarter,” claims the article.

Terms relevant to this article: Leadership tips, management skills, staff productivity, time management, prioritisation, prioritization GVHCAJGCMKFW

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