Hey Boss, What About Work-Life Balance?
The last hypothetical I posted, Is This Your Project Stakeholder? attracted a wide cross section of responses.
It made me wonder what you think of this real life experience (only the names have been changed):
Sebastian is a highly competent, upwardly mobile executive and your boss. He works 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and is a very detailed person. He proofreads everything, making copious corrections and is also studying for his second master's degree.
You have found the best time to approach Sebastian to discuss anything is after 8 p.m. when the office is quiet and he is working on his studies. In fact, at this time of night he seems to appreciate a brief chat.
The problem is you have a "life" outside of the office and feel 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. is a very fair day's work.
How would you approach building rapport with Sebastian to allow the discussion of important project issues and enhance your career prospects without waiting until after 8 p.m.?
I will review all comments and based on your feedback I will suggest some solutions in my next post.
However to make the relationship work on my terms, I'd suggest a lunchtime "walk'n'talk" or sandwiches in the park which give a number of benefits - it will get Sebastian away from the detail he seems to be trapped in (how many really successful executives can stay at that detail level, and with the right breadth), give him a bit of fresh air to energise him, and also "trap" him for a bit of quality time.
Maybe explain to him that you don't really function effectively after 6pm and so any conversations had then you would be distracted thinking about the kids bathtime or whatever. Tell him you value his time and want to use it effectively. If you're an older worker, you may be able to have the discussion about sustainable leadership, based upon your own life experience.
Also you need to recognise that whatever your personal WLB tolerance, project management is a "peaky" job in terms of effort, so you need to be very careful to demonstrate commitment to the cause when it will really have an impact to the outcomes.
As for enhancing career prospects, let your behaviours and results do the talking rather than your brown-nosing.
Alternatively, if he suggests a convenient time within his work hours to meet and discuss, then, I would be there with the required preparations.
|Anton van Rooyen|
I also have a Sebastian that I work for and it is all about â€œSebastianâ€ god in himself, who wants to show the rest of the world he is the great "Sebastian". If you donâ€™t respect your own family life you will never be able to respect other peopleâ€™s family lives.
How do you deal with it? You make an appointment within normal company work hours, (get a few time slots from his secretary), or if he likes to deal with it himself then you tell him that you have the following times that you can discuss it the issues with him. Give him an agenda of what you want to discuss and the time that you will need for the discussion. Should he insist on having the meeting after hours then you have to subtly indicate to him that it will impact on your family time and that you normally help your kids with homework during that time.
In today's work environment with BlackBerrys and 24/7 computer access to work, it seems as the work day is non stop.
Scott Nobel, PMP
|Anil Kumar T B|
In the above situation, I would fix up a brief 15-minute meeting with him on his calendar, say on a Tuesday and Thursday morning. So,this would be on his calendar like any other meetings, it's short and I would make sure it is crisp as well and this would ensure that both of us get the necessary face-time to discuss project issues. This would be my approach if I am working with such a BOSS.
Thank you. Cheers :)
For the times I just had to wait, I would stop working on "work" at a reasonable time and do something personal while I waited such as reading a book, making a personal phone call, or taking a walk.
As a project manager, you are likely to have to be somewhat flexible with your time, especially if you support geographically dispersed teams. You could try setting up weekly one-on-one meetings with "Sebastian" and see if that helps to get you an audience during regular working hours.
Practically I often had chance of working such bosses and my strategy had been to make it amply clear in the beginning itself both in words and action that I will not like to discuss after working hours except in exceptional cases.
Thank you for your entry, I had the exact situation with one of my managers, she was a consultant so she had to put in her 11-12 hours during her on site time and she would only want to chat after 6 or 7 pm which is what needed to be done if you wanted to build a good rapport with her.
The way I approached it was, I would chose one day in a week, not necessarily the same day every week, when I would come in a little late (if possible) or take an extended lunch break to get some errands done (or cooking) and then stay back till 9 or 10 pm that one day.
I didn't go looking for her, but she instead started looking for someone to chat with, or I would stop by later in the evening to make small talk.
It worked like a charm!
Good luck, Pranjal
Also if a favorable and immediate response from him is required I usually join him in the morning or wait till late to discuss this issue.
|Tom G, Philadelphia, PA|
My approach to this would be to introduce the topic of work-life balance in the next 1 on 1 meeting with Sebastian. (If the subordinate doesn't have periodic 1 on 1 sessions with his boss then that is it's own problem.) Start off with questions, i.e., his definition of WL balance for himself, for others, etc. Then surface the behaviors that are problematic and identify the associated negative repercussions for you. Then get into the grist of the discussion with an open conversation about how best to address the behaviors and set the appropriate expectations for both of you.
Do not preclude the opportunity to identify areas of delegation, i.e., your boss gets more time and you get new interesting tasks that clearly have value.
|Working for Trump|
Your best opportunity is to get Sebastian out for lunch. It's a breather he doesn't normally get. If you can get him to shut off his Blackberry you have his undivided attention. A word to the wise though, record everything discussed in a follow up email to protect yourself. Also agree to go dutch treat. My Sebastian stuck me with the bill!
You may even find he looks forward to your periodic lunch dates.
Initially, it bothered me a lot since I was newly inducted into the organization and was not quite familiar with the working life-style, especially Sebastian's. It however, became vivid as the days rolled by that it was not his eternal love for his job nor his esteemed devotion to his career, rather it was out of necessity that he set up an example, at least for me. It was then that I learned that when it comes to work, official or non-official, diligence, accuracy and thoroughness should be taken care of even if it requires you putting up those extras hours in.
During his 'after-hours' (after 6 pm) I often had a chat with him and I still remember him saying once: "... putting in an hour now is easier than putting in two tomorrow!"
I have also been known to schedule weekly one-to-one's but then use the time to give a project updates. Managers are hesitant to cancel one-to-ones as they will lunches. I'm sure I have used other tactics but they elude me at the moment.
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