Every few months we feature one of the pioneers that make up the ThirdPath community … Read on to learn how our amazing board member, Elizabeth Hall, crafted her integrated career.
Elizabeth Hall – “Pivoting” to Accommodate Work and Life.
Recently, Elizabeth helped coordinate a company-wide pivot that allowed her 5,000-person health care company to become fully remote. Elizabeth joined this organization six years ago. Today, she is Vice President of Employee Experience.
For example, when her son Spencer was born 17 years ago, the world was a different place. She also had a vision of trying to be both a working person and a parent, crafting a plan that felt pretty innovative considering the lack of successful examples in her circle of friends, family and coworkers. That’s a brave thing to do.
“I thought, well, I know my company doesn’t really have anyone who telecommutes, but maybe they will let me work from Portland. I also knew they weren’t going to fire me for asking. So, I went to my boss with a proposal: I could come down to Los Angeles every other week for four days, and the rest of the time I’d work from home in Portland.” Her boss said yes.
Elizabeth imagined only commuting every other week for a short while, but the arrangement lasted for two and a half years, with the company paying for Elizabeth’s travel.
Once again, it was time to pivot.
After Spencer was born, she decided she would resign, thinking she would be a full-time mom for a while. That was until her husband was laid off. “So there we were, with a baby and no jobs.”
Fortunately, Elizabeth’s former employer was happy to take her on as a part-time consultant, allowing her to work while still spending time with Spencer. This also taught Elizabeth how much, “It pays to really invest in those relationships, and to do good work.”
Time passed, and it became clear that Elizabeth was going to be the primary income earner in the family. Elizabeth found a new job that proved to be exciting, and full of opportunities for travel and success. But it also demanded a lot of time, and that took its toll.
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Launching an Integrated Career
“I felt like I didn’t have enough time for my child. I didn’t have enough time for my spouse. I didn’t have enough time for friends or family.” It was time to make another change.
Ultimately, she wanted to find a job that would be a better fit for her as a parent. She also wanted time to invest in her marriage to see if she and her ex-husband could turn things around, but they couldn’t.
Around this time her mother’s second husband also passed away. And once again, Elizabeth thoughtfully observed all of these new realities and rose to meet them, including the fact that if her mom wanted to spend time with Spencer, the time was now.
After considering a number of options, her mother said, ‘What if we just got a big ass house?’” This sounded appealing to Elizabeth, but life had also taught her it would be important to test-run the idea. So that is what they did, they found a big house she and her mom could rent, and the experience has been absolutely wonderful for everyone.
Today, when describing how she’s helped her current employer manage the changes connected to the pandemic, it’s easy to see how she continues to draw from her strength in having brave conversations and pivoting as needed.
Of course, Elizabeth first gives a lot of credit to her organization. But the idea of doing a test run before going fully remote came from carefully observing both her work and life experiences.
It turns out Spencer’s school was very close to the first reported U.S. virus outbreak. When this happened, the school sent all of the kids home. Then after a few days, they were ready to test virtual learning for a full school-day. It went so well, they never returned to school. She decided there was a lot to gain from doing a test run in her organization as well.
We picked a specific day and communicated our plan. “We told everybody to take their laptop and go home for a day.” The test day went pretty well, and ten days later the state instituted a stay-at-home lockdown. They were ready.
Just as before, Elizabeth found a way to draw from both sides of her experiences—in life and work—and pivot.
“You know,” Elizabeth remarked, “We’re all the same people, no matter where we go, so the skills you hone at work help you be successful at home, and the skills you hone at home help you be successful at work.”
She also learned, “You might not be able to solve everything at the beginning, because you don’t know what is going to happen, but you can solve what is right in front of you. You can evolve. You can do it.”
Want to meet Elizabeth Hall? Join our Thursday webinar on 11/12/20 @ 1pm ET. Register here.
Every few months we feature one of the pioneers that make up the ThirdPath community … Read on to learn about Julian’s Shared Care story, or watch our YouTube interview with Julian.
Graduating from college in the early 1980’s having studied social work and childcare Julian found it difficult to find work in his chosen field given the state of the economy at that time. He was newly married, had a young step-daughter and a new baby on the way. As a result, Julian took a job in building maintenance working double shifts to help make ends meet.
After the birth of their third daughter, Julian was at home with the girls during the day until he left for his night time maintenance job. Then Debbie would take over, making dinner, bathing and putting the three girls to bed. This arrangement lasted for almost 10 years until their youngest daughter reached 3rd grade.
Some would think a schedule like this was problematic, but Julian treasured these years. Walking the girls to and from school each day and attending school events and trips, meant everyone could see what an involved father he was.
Read more …
Julian remembers some of the challenges as well. To begin with there were many days when a full day of parenting, followed by a full shift at work was exhausting. In addition, money was always an issue. They rented a house to keep expenses low, and when the car died, they used public transport, not buying another car for years. But both parents new the time they had with young children was finite. Once when Julian was offered overtime at work, he turned it down. He knew the extra money would help, but he preferred to have the extra time for family.
Julian knows his decision to be an involved father was influenced by his own childhood. “My dad was not there for me in my life and that affected me. It made me want to be in my girls’ lives.” He continued, “My mother was at home with us when we were young, but eventually she became a single mom. She made many sacrifices for us. She had seven kids and she leaned heavily on the older boys, as there was just one girl. We boys were the babysitters, and we learned early that being a parent meant sacrificing.”
When asked about the impact of the decision for both parents to share in the care of their children Julian explains; “We were able to take advantage of an open door. This schedule wasn’t planned, it just worked out for us, and my daughters and I forged a strong bond as a result. If I had not been at home all those years, I probably would have had to work much harder to have those relationships.”
Today Julian is the director of a childcare center for a vibrant community church. As he reflects on his story he said, “Hopefully now I am in a position to help teach and guide parents. When we have problems in our families, we have to take a deep look and ask ourselves, what can we as a community do to help?”
Want more inspiration? Tune in to our next Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar to meet more inspiring pioneers doing work, family and leadership differently!
Every few months we feature one of the pioneers that make up the ThirdPath community . . . This month we are revisiting an interview we did with Chris Madoo and Kyra Cavanaugh.
The pandemic has taught us that many jobs can be done completely virtually. On one of our previous Thursdays with ThirdPath webinars, we discussed these ideas with Kyra Cavanaugh, author of the book, Who Works Where and Who Cares? We also invited two leaders who manage virtual work teams to share what’s made their teams so successful.
Since this webinar, Chris has been promoted, but he continues to manage his new team virtually. We’re also proud to have Chris as a member of ThirdPath’s Pioneering Leader group, and on one of our recent calls, it was fun to hear how Chris is still using these important flexibility tools today.
Tool #1: Define performance objectives. Kyra underscores, this is not just an important tool to use for flexible work teams – but for every work team.
As Marketing and Sales Leader at Marriott, Chris learned that successfully managing a virtual work team can come with a few curve balls, but through prioritization, communication, and trust he was able to build on his team’s success. It also helped that Marriott clearly defined performance standards. Productivity goals were carefully defined as a way to promote key priorities and related behaviors. Activity logs and weekly updates also kept the team on track to help drive results.
Tool #2: Capacity and resilience. Kyra explains, managing the long-term resilience of a work team doesn’t just benefit the individual team member it also benefits the organization.
Read more …
Tool #5: Communication. No surprise, the key to all of this is good communication.
Chris knew the glue that held everything together was good communication. Not only did his employees have to communicate their capacity and work preferences, they also had to communicate what they wanted to make time for in their lives outside of work. Chris also communicated what was going on in his life, especially if it was going to impact his availability. In fact, if there were life issues that would impact their ability to complete a task on time, all of them were responsible for communicating that to the rest of the team. What he noticed from all of this, is that it helped everyone build up a strong rapport with one another, which also helped them hold each other accountable for the work they were doing.
Our discussion with Chris and Kyra helps underscore how flexibility will look different in every organization, and how support from upper management will always make it easier.
When Marriott made the shift to a flexible workplace for departments like marketing and sales, the organization had to learn what it meant to manage remote staff. Chris learned that flexibility requires more trust and greater transparency. Marriott helped by clearly defining expectations. Employees did their part by clearly defining their work capacities and obligations outside of work. Together – individuals, teams, managers and senior leadership – we’re able to optimize a new way of working that benefited everyone, including the bottom line!
Thank you Chris and Kyra for leading the way to creating truly 21st century workplaces!
Want to learn more? Check out the “integrated leadership” section of our website – discover how men and women are advancing in their careers while also creating plenty of time for their lives outside of work.
Every few months we feature one of the pioneers that make up the ThirdPath community . . . This month we are putting a spotlight on two Shared Care couples.
Read on to learn how sharing in the joys and challenges of earning an income and caring for their families has positively impacted them as individuals and as a couple. Or click the SoundCloud icon at the end to listen to them describe their inspiring stories in their own words.
Roger and his wife are both engineers. When their son was born, they both decided to work reduced hours so they could share in the care of their new baby. To begin with – even though they both worked for the same employer and had the same benefits – Roger’s wife assumed she would be the one who worked reduced hours. It was actually Roger who suggested they both could work part time. Now both parents have regular “alone” time with their child. Roger can see how this has helped the couple build a high level of trust. Both parents feel comfortable in the other’s ability to take on any responsibility in their absence. This feeling of trust has also helped the couple feel closer in their relationship.
Read more …
Doug and Maggie’s Story
Doug and Maggie have shared in the care of their son since he was born – now he’s in high school! They also both run their own businesses and work from home offices. For Doug and Maggie, time spent together as a family has always been a top priority. They have also always been very intentional to create this time together. Although the reasons may have changed over the years, like the recent celebration with their son when he got his drivers permit, the priority of creating family time hasn’t changed. The couple says the key to their success has been their ability to work together as a team and to set boundaries around the time they spend working.
Working as a “team at home” has also left the couple with a sense of balance that no one person is doing more than the other, and as a result, the couple feels “friendlier towards each other”. These feelings of friendliness have allowed the couple to easily adjust to changing circumstances. When their son started high school, the family’s day suddenly began two hours earlier. Without missing a beat, the couple made the commitment to get up together and have breakfast, and then see their son off to school. They also discovered the new arrangement allowed time for a workout in the morning.
Shared Care Helps Couples Develop Multi-Dimensional Lives
Through team work and setting boundaries around work time, these families have created lives that are supportive, trusting and enriching not only for their family as a whole, but also for their own lives and their relationships as a couple. Here are a few more unexpected benefits we learned about from our conversation with these Shared Care parents:
- Shared care means both parents can continue to create time for “guilt free recreation” – since they’ve had time for work and for family, both feel free to create time for their own personal interests
- Both parents become an additional resource around work problems. One dad shared a story of how his partner’s area of expertise at work helped him “think outside the box” to solve a recent work problem
- Shared Care becomes a powerful way to role model how both men and women can do things differently – at work and at home!
In each story, the couples found a unique solution that met their family, work and individual needs. Through communication and teamwork, these families created work/family solutions that were able to continue to evolve with their changing lives. They also discovered, by sharing their involvement with both work and family, they were able to further solidify the levels of trust, support and love in their relationships.
To learn more about Roger, Doug and Maggie, listen to the recording of our Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar by clicking the SoundCloud link at the end of this post. The recording also includes the stories of a few additional couples, including the authors of two Shared Care books, Lisa Levy (The Libra Solution) and Marc Vachon (Equally Shared Parenting).
Men As Partners in Change
We are proud of ThirdPath’s trailblazing role supporting men’s increasing involvement with family. We’re also proud of the men who have been trailblazers with us – men like Matt Schneider, co-founder of City Dads Group and ThirdPath board member.
Here are a few of these amazing dads’ stories. You’ll quickly see how they are forging a new path for everyone around them.
Excerpt from Michael Andersen-Leavey’s post:
My husband, Matthew, and I chose the surrogacy path to fatherhood. When we started our journey in November 2014, my employer provided six weeks of paternity leave to primary caregivers; Matthew’s only provided one day for the birth of a child.
Fast forward to January 2017. My employer, American Express, extended parental and paternity leave to 20 weeks to all care givers! In addition, it was paid paternity leave – at 100% pay – and your job remains protected for the duration – well beyond the protected, unpaid 12 weeks of leave made available to parents through the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
I was very open about my plan to take the full 20 weeks when our son, Cole, was expected to arrive in January 2018. My colleagues, including those I reported to, were very supportive of my decision. In fact, I came across many dads – in and out of my workplace – who wished they had such an opportunity to take any paternity leave when their kids were born.
Taking that time off to care and bond with Cole during those early months of his young life was important to us, especially since my husband had to return to work soon after the birth.
While on leave, I used the time to introduce Cole to music through classes offered at a local studios. We also had fun attending “Daddy and Me” classes at a nearby children’s education center. The time away from work provided me with the opportunity to be the father to Cole that I never had growing up. (Read the rest of Michael’s post on the City Dads Group website.)
Excerpt from Marlon Gutierrez’s post:
Before having my daughter, I took a job with a company where everyone worked remotely and it also offered better paternity leave…
When people ask what I do, first and foremost, I talk about being a dad. Then I’ll talk about our real estate investments and then, if I feel like it, I’ll talk about my job. I no longer tie my identity to my career, and it’s allowed me to break free from making decisions that only benefit a toxic patriarchal fantasy as opposed to doing what’s truly best for myself and my family.
As often as possible, I try to encourage myself to think differently.
Read more …
Thank you Matt, Michael and Marlon for proving how men can be equally competent caregivers. Want more inspiration? Tune in to our next Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar to meet more inspiring pioneers doing work, family and leadership differently!