Change the Work/life Conversation

Career Blog

Employees sometimes struggle with broaching the work/life balance conversation with their manager because they assume (like a novice salesperson) that they are asking for a favor. Before doing anything else, employees should understand their organization’s formal policy. Assuming there is one, they should change the conversation to focus on results, not time. The following is a quick guideline for navigating the conversation:

  1. Clarify Your Objective: Do you have childcare needs that require you to leave at 4:00? Do you have restrictions on travel? How about a need to telecommute during the summer? Before approaching your manager, clarify your actual need and write it down.
  2. Focus on Results: If you’re a solid/high performer, discuss past results and ask your manager which are the most essential deliverables in the future. While everyone has a job description, things tend to change and expand over time. Getting clarity on what is most important to your boss is critical.
  3. Ask About The X Factor: What are the one or two things that, if accomplished, would help you exceed expectations for the role? Sign up for the goal(s) if they seem doable (considering your work/life balance needs).
  4. Make the Request: Indicate that you’ve reviewed and want to take advantage of the company’s work/life balance practice/policy. By being specific about your request and having a plan to ensure deliverables get accomplished, your manager will likely approve your request without hesitation.
  5. Suggest a Check-in Schedule: If you already have 1-to-1 meetings, use them to review the new arrangement and progress on goals. If not, now is a great time to start a habit that will benefit you both.

Too often, employees approach these interactions with fear of an adversarial response. By understanding organizational policy, focusing on deliverables, and having a workable plan in place, the discussion can actually strengthen the employee/manager relationship.

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