Leadership Articles: TALKING LEADERSHIP


A Feature Article from Gaynor Consulting Inc.
November 2012   |   By Dan Gaynor

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The Benefits Of Balance

There is very little evidence today of balance in the workplace. Some people work too hard and call themselves workaholics with a sense of pride; others work too little and use balance as an excuse for laziness. Workaholic leaders often promote the idea that long hours equal dedication, which of course leads to success, when nothing could be more wrong. Some of the most dedicated employees I have ever worked with were just as dedicated to their families. Without balance people end up neglecting their responsibilities to their families and themselves and leaders pay a price in lost productivity and high turnover.

Real balance includes hard work and rest. Without both we suffer. Skillful leaders encourage balance. I did my best to make sure the people I led arrived at the office on time, worked hard while they were there, and left for home on time. At one newspaper this led to quite a shift in culture. As my time was ending with that team, a group of employees took me out to lunch and one commented on the change. He wondered how we could have worked fewer man hours, reduced staff by15 per cent and yet still boosted earnings to record levels. My answer: fewer people worked fewer hours, but they were rested, enthused and far more productive.

Let's take a look at the two sides of lost balance, starting with too much work. This is the sweatshop environment. When people lack adequate rest, they burn out and wear down. They may be at their desks but they lack energy and concentration - the same work takes longer, sometimes much longer to do, and there are more mistakes. People do one of two things: they quit or they "stay and quit." I'm not sure which is more costly. Most research suggests it costs at least 50% of the first year's pay to replace an experienced employee, for many jobs this number is clearly too low. When we consider the cost of finding, orienting and training a new employee, along with the time it takes for someone to come up to speed and be fully productive - turnover is costly and that's if we get the selection right and don't have to repeat the whole process.

Now let's look at the other side of the coin, too little work. We might call this the country club environment, where people are allowed to form poor work habits and leaders don't say anything. While it is easy to see hard work as an obligation to the organization and to colleagues, I always point out that it is just as much an obligation to self. When I reflect on my experience over the years it has become clear that those with the strongest work habits have the best experience. They are the people who lean their elbows on the kitchen table after a good day's work and feel good about themselves and their contributions. They are most secure about their futures.

When you encourage a balanced approach to work you remove it as a source of personal and family conflict, you restore the energy people need to do their best work, and you position them to feel good about what they are doing. Real balance is not only the right thing to do, it boosts performance.

Build a culture in which people arrive for work on time, work hard while they are there, and then leave on time, and you'll be rewarded with a refreshed, motivated and productive team.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is your approach to balancing your time between work and family?
  2. What would you estimate the cost is to replace a skilled employee on your team?
  3. What steps could you take to encourage more balance where you lead?

To take your team's leadership skills to a new level call to learn more about a 1/2 day workshop.

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A Feature Article from Gaynor Consulting Inc.
November 2012   |   By Dan Gaynor


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