In this post, Gloria Bader, Ed.D. shares her experiences with coaching people who are experiencing work family conflict. She specifically addresses some differences she has noticed in coaching Latino managers and executives, as well as some gender differences that have come up.
How do you coach someone who is experiencing work family conflict?
I often ask clients to draw a pie chart of how they allocate their time. While only an approximation, this tool helps clients realize that some of their time is less productive. The tool uncovers time wasters and lack of priority setting. The issue of delegation usually surfaces. The assumptions that one can do it faster and it will take too much time reveal a misunderstanding of the role of a good manager.
Clients discuss what’s important in their life, such as family, health, and lifestyle. They describe the one thing they want to spend more time doing, such as exercising while walking their dog. I’ll have the client commit to one activity like that and afterwards, we discuss what their experience was like and what rewards they realized. This approach combines managing one’s agenda better with using that time to do things that bring them joy. Of course, this attention to both issues simultaneously improves over time.
An example: A talented Latino executive went away for a week’s vacation but he allowed continuous blackberry interruptions from the office. The vacation tensed him and he had no break. We discussed his allocation of time and how to manage the next vacation. He agreed to meet with his direct reports to request that they each only interrupt him once, if at all, while he was away. They agreed on priorities and how to handle issues that might arise. Consequently, the group was prepared, boundaries were set, and he had his first real vacation in a long time.
As you have coached Latino managers and executives, have you noticed differences in the levels and/or type of work family conflict experienced?
My Latina women clients generally treasure relationships, attend to others, and fail to negotiate boundaries or ask for help. These internal pressures must be addressed and re-framed. Yet, work family conflict prevails among other cultures as well. I once asked the CEO of a Fortune 50 company to tell a group about how he manages this issue. He answered: “I listen to my family.” What a fine guideline.
Have you noticed any gender differences in work family conflict?
Women often have a hard time asking for help. One busy executive woman hosted and cooked for a yearly holiday party. Her stress rose. We had a discussion about the importance of the party and what it meant to her. From then on she had the event catered and the whole feeling of the party changed for her in a positive way.