is an author, clinical psychologist, leadership consultant, C-Suite executive coach and speaker on the topic of adapting to and leading through change.
What is the number one reason for work/life imbalance that you see most often?
GB: I it comes down to the individual choice. Too often people feel like they have to work a certain amount when the reality is they are choosing to work a certain amount. The reasons are varied. For many successful people, they are afraid that if they stop running as fast as they can someone will catch them. For others it is the imposter syndrome: deep down there are afraid people will discover they're not as good as everyone thinks they are so they keep working hard to prove themselves. Some people just enjoy working a lot. And some people have a bad home life and work keeps them away from it.
What workplace practices do you see as most beneficial for reaching the balance?
GB: Allowing for a a flexible work schedule whenever possible. Don't make people come to the office just because, or make them come to the office at certain times, just because. Focus more on the quality of work and getting it done on time, and focus less on wh ere the work gets done. Give people freedom to set their schedule the fit their needs. Be very clear on what needs to get done and when and at what level equality and then give people the freedom to make that happen as much as possible.
What's your view on new technologies (telecommuting, remote collaboration, etc)? Do they generally make workers happier, because they enable people to work from anywhere or do they increase stress level, because you become reachable 24/7?
GB: Technology is wonderful when used wisely. Many people become addicted to their technology and can't seem to let it go. We all have to learn to discipline ourselves to unplug from time to time. I find it helpful to mentally set a quitting time for myself. At such and such a time I am done with work and I will not look at emails or answer them until the next day for example. Too many people blame their company or organization for the demands on their time when in reality we are the ones who are addicted. Just like with everything else, moderation in all things, including technology!
Can you share any tips and techniques for business leaders who want their subordinates to live a balanced life?
GB: The most important thing you can do is live a balanced life yourself. Role model the behaviour you want to see. And let people know what you are doing. If you're leaving work early to go to your kids soccer game let people know that. Holding people to high standards on the quality of work and when it gets done but as mentioned earlier give them the flexibility to figure out how to make that happen. But the most important thing is you're actions have to be consistent with your words. Don't talk the importance of life balance and then write people emails in the middle of the night. They will feel pressure to respond then too. Write your email but then send in the morning. Don't talk life balance and then consistently ask people to do a fire drill late into the night or over the weekend. Certainly these things have to happen from time to time but when they do make it clear this is an exception not the rule. Remember rewarding behaviour with simple little things like pizza if we are working late at night or thank you note after finishing a grueling project are always welcome and can have a big impact.
Which companies do you think have this equation right?
GB: I don't focus on much on which companies that are getting it right, I focus more on individuals making the right choices. Having said that I read about a company that had no vacation policy (sorry I can't remember their name right now). Their policy was if you need a vacation take it. I like that in theory but once you get larger as an organization I'm not sure how well it would work but that concept is certainly heading in the right direction from a work life balance philosophy standpoint.
Thank you for the interview.