This year we’ve been focusing on how work can be redesigned for men, women and leaders. Now it’s time to look at why this approach is so important.
What do you enjoy making time for?
Here’s just a few of the things we’ve heard our ThirdPath community members enjoy making time for:
-Holding my baby.
-Taking a walk with my aging mother.
-Becoming an educated voter.
-Going on a date.
-Shopping, cooking dinner and eating a meal with my loved ones.
-Being a volunteer.
-Going on my child’s school trip.
-Staying in shape and exercising
-Visiting my uncle in the hospital.
-Exploring the world and traveling.
-Furthering my education.
-Caring for my sick child.
-Preparing for a marathon.
-Hanging out with my teenager and hear how his day was at school.
Yes – we need to work … and many of us enjoy our work … but let’s create thriving organizations that also support full and active lives outside of work.
And when we do this, it turns out it isn’t just good for us, it’s also about supporting wider change for all of us.
It’s also about creating gender equity at the workplace — for women AND men. Working together we can create thriving organizations that also support thriving families.
Improving our health — Pushing back at the epidemic of overwork is better for everyone — across the economic spectrum and across the lifecycle.
And it’s even about improving our environment — Helping people find effective alternatives to a long commute in their cars will lower stress and improve our environment.
Send us your stories - we want to hear how you have organized your life to create time for work AND the pursuit of happiness. What’s worked well? What have you been struggling with? What do you believe is the best answer for our workplaces, families and the communities we live in?
Choose your path, old rules or new rules….
Recently Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, announced she was putting a moratorium on working remotely.
Prior to this, Sheryl Sandburg COO of Facebook, and author of the soon to be released book “Lean In” explained that in order for women to succeed at work, instead of “pulling back” in their careers women should “lean in.”
Instead of “leaning into” the old rules … don’t we want to create organizations where both men and women can follow new rules?.
Given all the recent press on the “old rules” we thought it was important to remind ourselves why things can be done differently. This year we’ve been examining the 5 mandates for change Anne-Marie Slaughter outlined in her Atlantic article. To improve on the mandates we added “men and women” to each one.
Read more …
Here’s what we’ve learned so far:
(1) Men and Women Changing the Culture of Face Time …
On our October Thursday call three employees – two men and one woman – all for very different reasons described how they were able to work remotely. All of them also discussed how their work had improved because of their ability to work remotely. (To listen to the call click here.)
(2) Men and Women Redefining the Arc of a Successful Career …
On our January Thursday call we spoke with three male leaders who run organizations that support an integrated approach from entry level to executive level. Not only can these organizations attract and retain the best employees, click here to listen to the tape of the call to hear each leader discuss how this approach brings unique value to their clients.
(3) Men and Women Revaluing Family Values …
During our March Thursdays with ThirdPath calls we are exploring why men are as interested in rewriting the rules as women.
On Thursday 3/21 you can join us to hear two very different stories from two dads who redesigned their work so they could share in the care of their children.
This call is open to everyone, just click on the below link at 12:30pm on Thursday 3/21 to join us. (The call runs from 12:30 to 1:30pm ET.)
YES! Let’s create a movement for change and truly become an innovation nation.
Let’s do this by having men and women – especially male and female leaders – model integrated career paths.
Lets dream even bigger….
The book, “Time Off with Baby: The Case for Paid Care Leave“, provides a thorough analysis of the benefits of providing mothers and fathers the right to paid parental leave after the birth or adoption of a baby. It asks and answers the question:
“What do babies need during the first year of life, and what role does public policy have in promoting the likelihood they will get it?”
Read more …
“Although the responsibility for a baby’s care clearly rests primarily with parents, public policy has a role in ensuring that parents have real choices.”
Nearly 30 years ago, the authors wrote “current U.S. policy supports neither high- quality infant day care nor alternatives such as paid leaves for infant care.” Today, because of the number of employees not covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, the absence of wage replacement, and the lack of quality standards for child care, that is still largely true.”
“Given the high cost of infant care and the difficulties in providing safe and healthy care, providing real alternatives, such as a partially paid leave for a portion of the first year of a baby’s life, looks like both a bargain and a wise investment.”
The book makes an excellent case for this important and critically needed change in public policy.
But what if we dreamed even bigger. What if we created integrated solutions, not just for the first year, but across our entire career-lifecycle? When we asked the members of our Pioneering Leaders group what makes them most proud around their integrated career paths, here’s what they had to say:
Father of two children, ages 16 and 20. “Our ability to keep on adjusting. Everything’s changed from season to season. We’ve created a lot of teamwork as we just keep on adjusting to the latest change.”
Father of two children, ages 16 and 19. “We’ve both been able to have careers, but we’ve also been able to build in a lot of stability in our children’s lives. They are both deeply connected to the community where they grew up.”
Father of two children, ages 6 and 8. “I ask people, ‘Who is behind the door, who is the person you can turn to when you are having one of those horrible days with your children.’ My wife is that person for me.”
Father of two children, ages 34 and 36, and grandfather of two children, ages 7 and 5. “I like that we’ve created a strong network of care. My daughter is going to be traveling for a week, so this week I’ll be doing extra grandpa duty. We’ve created strong relationships with our children.”
Yes, any step to improve public policy in this country will be useful.
But maybe we can also harness the energy of progressive leaders – or the positive energy of the Dad 2.0 conference we just attended – to help us dream even bigger and create a nation that truly promotes an integrated approach to work and the care of our families from birth through elder care.
Are we willing to trade profit for greater life satisfaction?
A recent Thursday with ThirdPath call involved several inspirational leaders. Each one has founded, or is part of the senior leadership team, of an organization that supports an integrated approach to work and life from top to bottom. It’s no coincidence they are small business owners. ThirdPath has seen that this is where innovation around these issues is transpiring most rapidly. It’s also no coincidence that they learned a lot from trying to “walk the talk” themselves. Being an “integrated leader” – a leader who has been successful at work while also carving out time for their lives outside of work – isn’t easy.
Read more …
But what you might not have thought about … is how the different approach these leaders are modeling is also linked to managing a “reasonable” bottom line.
Instead of creating organizations that rely on extreme performance goals to succeed, these leaders are following a very different path.
Clearly we need thriving organizations in order to offer flexibility. What these leaders also teach us is “enough is enough.” Instead of creating organizations that require excessive work hours in order to meet inflated bottom lines, they have created thriving organizations that support people to be successful at work AND successful in their lives outside of work.
Below is what Tony Doniger had to say on the topic. He’s one of the leaders who joined the call. This is an excerpt from an article Tony wrote for the Boston Bar Journal, “A Different Measure of Success.” (March/April 2008)
A good deal has been written about contentment, stress, dissatisfaction and disillusion in the legal profession [and other professions as well, ThirdPath would argue!]. For better or for worse, many lawyers and most large and mid-size law firms often measure their success not on a happiness or contentment index but against a monetary standard. Earnings — or “profit per partner” — is the currency with which firms compete for rankings on the all important The American Lawyer charts.
To improve these monetary rankings firms do things that are harmful to the profession and bad for lawyers.
One way to increase profit per partner is to limit the number of partners who count in the equation. However, with fewer people making partner, it is of course harder for diversity milestones to be achieved as there are fewer openings in the partnership ranks for anyone. On the revenue side, the pursuit of ever increasing revenues by definition imposes greater pressures on associates (and all lawyers). The result, of course, is that lawyers have less time for professional and other non-billable activities.
In addition, mergers and acquisitions have increased markedly over the last decade. The cost of these transitional events is not insignificant. Indeed, at the annual Boston Bar Association Leadership Retreat, a large percentage of the attorneys present had personally experienced such an event, finding it stressful and resulting in a solution that was less optimal from the perspective of contentment, though perhaps more profitable.
In the end, we need to ask when enough is enough.
Should we be willing to trade some profit or growth in profit for greater satisfaction? Surely it is okay to make a little less next year (or not make more) and take on some new professional or pro bono activities, or yes, even personal activities (there’s nothing wrong with hiking the Appalachian Trail).
There is much we can do to improve our professional and personal lives, our pro bono and bar work, our efforts to improve access to justice, if only we would emphasize alternative measures of success.
This alternative approach isn’t just for professional workers … Read the excellent New York Times article, “How Costco Became the Anti-Walmart.” It describes Jim Sinegal’s progressive approach at Costco Wholesale.
Want to learn more? Tune back next month and we’ll have the tape of the call posted on our website.
Peter Senge discussion
If you weren’t able to join us for the November 29th Thursday with ThirdPath call featuring Peter Senge, read on and be inspired! It was the second in a series of calls exploring how “men and women are redefining the arc of successful career paths.”
We discussed how teams can be a leverage point for change – both at work and at home – clearly illustrated in our story about “Brad” – a father who was able to leave an unsupportive workplace because of the “team approach” he and his partner took at home.
We talked about the importance of finding “symbolic leaders” – informal leaders that others can watch and be inspired to follow. Leaders like Ivan – a grandfather who redesigned his work so he could care for his grand-daughter on Mondays.
Read more …
We talked about how it takes courage to stand up and tell the truth, but when we do this, it benefits everyone involved. You can see this in our story about CJ, a father who changed to a four day work week, and by doing so created a number of more effective processes at work.
Questions and Answers from Our Conversation with Peter Senge:
Question: Creating a vision requires stepping out of the madness and finding a moment for contemplation. Instead people get stuck in “fast forward” mode. What can people do?
More than time, what is needed is giving yourself permission to create the space to do this. It also helps to have others who are willing to think with you, and to encourage you to focus on what’s important as opposed to what’s secondary. In our over stimulated world we can begin to think we don’t have enough time. But actually we have the same 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week and how ever many years we are going to live. That hasn’t changed a bit. What has changed is the mental model and the choices of how we spend our time. Once you realize this, you can make the necessary choices to create a different kind of space – a quiet space. It doesn’t matter if it’s running or yoga, just so long as it isn’t something “externally stimulating” like watching TV or surfing the web. There is nothing wrong with these activities. But in our over stimulated environments we never have enough time. What’s required is a shift in mindset.
Question: I get pulled into meaningless meetings. I negotiated a four day work week, but was told to keep it quiet. How do you live with this greater sense of meaning when faced with a work culture that is so different?
When you are trying to be sane in an insane environment, people will call you crazy. Your action is a contradiction to their assumptions. It’s not because they are bad people, they are just expressing the norms of the work culture, and they see you as contradicting these norms. You are also making them recognize that there is a choice. You are taking a stand for something that matters to you, and it probably matters to them as well, and your actions require them to face that they too have options. Do you want to take a stand for something that you really care about? One person might not be able to make a difference, but you can always take a stand for yourself. It’s also important to not do it out of anger. People will only hear the anger. You need to do it because you feel it’s the right thing to do. You need to be clear in your words and actions, “I’m not doing this to criticize you, I’m doing this because this it is what I need.”
Question: I’m supervising a team and doing the job of 3 persons. How can any of us try and work a 4 day work week when my boss’ answer will be to just get the 5 days of work done in 4?
A lot of organizations are expecting to do more and more without the necessary resources. I would just encourage you to ask your boss, “What do you think about this? It seems like we are trying to get too much done with the resources we have.” What you will be doing is engaging him or her in a process of inquiry. If you start with a simple assumption, that you and your boss have many common goals, it will help. I can guarantee that when you bring this issue up, your boss will feel just as stuck as you do. And if you can then find ways to engage a team of people to think about this issue, and do it by evoking curiosity, it’s amazing what can be done. I guarantee you, things won’t get worse.
Would you like help creating your own unique “third path” – an integrated approach to work and life? Look at the “Get Help” section of our website – we’ve got lots of resources for you.
Making the Most of Summer
Here’s what we at ThirdPath have learned about balancing work and family over the summer
- In general summers can allow for an enjoyable “slower pace” at home.
- But summers also take A LOT of planning.
- The age of your children will also have a big impact on what happens during the summer.
- Finding the “right” camp can be a highlight, but finding it can be quite a journey.
- Another summer goal is finding the “right” mix of planned and unplanned activities – balancing boredom versus over scheduling.
Read more …
- Summers can also provide an opportunity for children to develop independent interests, such as reading and hobbies.
- Over time families often develop a rhythm to summers that can last year after year, some becoming deeply valued memories and “family traditions.”
Interesting Summer Solutions We’ve heard about …
- Grandparents and extended family can play a great role in summers. Children can spend one or two weeks with them (and sometimes with other cousins as well). This can provide a great opportunity for the two generations to get to know each other and connect.
- A partner in an accounting firm negotiated a “flex year” schedule – working a total of 20 hours during the summer months. This gave her maximum time with her school aged children. Then during her “busy season” – January through April – her husband became the primary parent in charge.
- ThirdPath has also met many families where one parent intentionally became a school teacher as a way to have more flexibility throughout the summers. In one of these families, the other parent negotiated an alternative summer schedule so she could work remotely one day a week.
- Telework can be a great summer solution when caring for teens. It’s also a great option for stretching out limited vacation time. One family planned a two week beach vacation but only used one week of vacation time. They did this by trading off who was working (in the mornings or in the afternoons) while the other parent played with the children at the beach.
Summertime tip: Write up notes at the end of the summer about what worked well or what could be improved on. Pull these out in February when you start planning for the next summer.
Creating A Shared Responsibility for Family Finances
Yes – Shared Care families share in the care of their children, but they also share in the responsibility of meeting their family’s financial needs. Below are a few quotes from Shared Care couples about this important topic.
These quotes also happen to come from families where one or both parents have moved into positions of leadership – leaders who are truly helping us create 21st century organizations. Enjoy.
Rob and Michelle - “When Michelle and I were expecting our first child I elected to leave public accounting and move to a position at a more family friendly company where I would have less pay but more flexibility. Michelle thrived in that industry, so at the time, that made the most sense for us. I was able to arrange my schedule to be able to pick our girls up from daycare every day by around 4. Michelle eventually went to a flexible schedule as well outside of her busy season and was able to be home with the girls during summer breaks.
Read more …
In our 18 years of marriage we have been successful at “sharing the load” both at home and at work which has worked really well for our family. Both of us have a very good relationship with our teenage daughters and neither of us feels like we missed out with family or in our careers. We probably could have chosen a different path and made more money but the tradeoff has been worth it.”
Laura and Jim – “Our ability to flex our work schedules has allowed both of us to stay engaged in our careers AND our families. I have been able to be an involved mother and a full-time partner in my organization. While this has proven to be extremely rewarding, although at times challenging for me, Jim has found even more unexpected benefit. Jim grew up expecting to be less involved at home due to the pressures of maintaining the household financially. Because I participate in the family finances, Jim is able to participate in his family at a level beyond his expectations and play a meaningful, daily role in his children’s lives. Because of this, our children have a strong female AND male role model and our marriage feels very much like a partnership in every way possible.”
Chris and Nina – “The shared role has been essential to allowing me to put equitable focus on life and work priorities. It’s greatest value has been the opportunity to be engaged in each child’s life and be in the know. It also has allowed us to share the decision making and come to better decisions around our kids education and welfare. As the kids have grown into middle school age – it has shown the kids that Mom and Dad are aligned and are a team – each has value and each are able to fulfill their needs. I believe shared care provides better security and a sense of place for children. It also teaches them the life lesson of working hard but also seeking balance.”
Want to learn more about Shared Care or how to become an integrated leader? Here’s a link to the PDF we created that shows how parents can move ahead into positions of leadership while also sharing in the care of their children, we call these leaders ” Whole Life Leaders .” Take a look, we believe it’s a wonderful solution that creates a true partnership at home.
When Dads share in the primary care of their children they strengthen their families in many crucial ways.
One - Many feel sharing both work and family responsibilities improves communication and brings parents closer together as a a couple.
Two - When sharing family care and paid work, both parents understand each other’s experiences better. Both learn, what’s enough work and what’s enough parenting so they have time to care for their relationship with each other.
Three - Each parent develops their own unique strengths around how to play with and care for their child. Together they develop a larger, more flexible set of tools to care for their family.
Read more …
Four - Sharing care means sharing bread winning. By having both parents play a role in the family’s financial needs it can lead to creative decisions around how to manage earning, savings and spending as a way to have more family time or create more satisfying career paths.
Five - Having shared experiences around paid work means you become an excellent resource for each other around planning and strategizing next steps at work. It also means you have each others backs if some “next steps” take you by surprise.
Six - Creating a shared approach to work and family – especially when both parents have learned how to set boundaries at work – means both parents find more energy and creativity in both aspects of their lives. Work enriches life. Life enriches work.
In short, when Dads are supported and encouraged to play an active role at home – and both parents support each other to craft an integrated approach to work and life – the word “partner” takes on a whole new meaning.
Download our PDF “A Life Committed to Shared Care” to see how Shared Care Dads (and Moms) are creating solutions that are good for their families, good for their workplaces and good for Dads.
Would you like to create more time for your children? Your spouse? Yourself? Male or female, young or old, entry level or executive, there’s a win-win work redesign solution for every job – a flexible solution that is both good for you and good for your employer.
To learn more read Adam’s story. Adam successfully redesigned his work to help share in the care of his two school age children. Adam’s story also shows us that men, women, children AND organizations can benefit from these changes. To learn more click on Adam’s win-win solution highlighted on the ‘Integrated Life – Creating More Flex’ section of our website.
Take A Vacation: It’s Time To Recharge Your Batteries
For those who have been able to truly disengage from work while on vacation, you know the benefits can be quite significant – both for you and your workplace.
Yes – many of us might need to challenge some norms to make this happen: the fear of being perceived as an underperformer; the pressure to see it as a win-lose proposition – either we meet our client and customer needs or our own personal needs; or the worry that maybe there’s no point to take a week off given the demands to be available while away and the difficulty transitioning back upon return.
But there’s a lot to gain when we push back at these norms.
Read more …
In fact, we’ve learned from the Shared Care parents and Integrated Leaders we’ve worked with, that taking vacations can increase the skills we need to approach work and life in an integrated way.
Here’s a list of things you can do before you leave, and when you return, that should help increase your chances of enjoying your time away from work and minimizing the challenges upon your return.
Vacation Check List:
- Plan vacations around the “seasonality” of your work. Try scheduling longer trips for less busy periods of work and “long weekend vacations” when work is busier.
- Minimize the unexpected. Coordinate vacations with your team. Talk to clients a few weeks before leaving. Ask delegates to complete work that needs reviewing a week before you leave.
- Block off pre and post “quiet” work days. Avoid scheduling meetings and phone calls the day before you leave and the day you return to allow for the “unexpected” and for catch up time when you return.
- Create a “what can wait” list. A week before you go, create a list of things that you can wait to get done after vacation, versus tasks that must be completed before you go.
- Decide how “connected” you want to be. If you need to check email or voice messages, plan ahead around what’s least disruptive.
- Carefully define emergencies. Think ahead about what challenges could arise. Clearly define emergencies to avoid everything becoming one.
- Plan ways to totally disengage from work. Avoid the “I’ll just get this one thing done” trap. If you can’t disengage for the whole vacation, set a firm goal to at least disengage for part of your vacation.
- Pre-schedule “check in” calls. Set up meetings or calls to review the work you have delegated to others the second or third day of your return.
- Plan different trips to meet different needs. Family and extended family vacations are fun, but couples may also benefit from having a long weekend away just as a couple.
- Keep track of what worked well. Create a list you can refer back to of helpful ideas for planning your next vacation.
And don’t forget, creating vacations that really recharge our batteries may also require us to change how we approach vacations as a family.
What tips have you learned to make the most of your time away from work? Send us your success stories. We will then gather them up and make them available to the entire ThirdPath community in a future email update.