Saturday, March 17, 2020

News and Views: March 17th 2007

Some pointed humor

If you haven’t already discovered the comic strip CEO Dad, you might like to take a look. Nothing earth-shattering, but some amusing digs at the kind of person whose work/life balance is perfectly consistent—everything is work. One of my favorites is where his wife complains he’s always missing family vacations, he says he thought the last one he joined in was great . . . and she says that teleconferencing doesn’t count! [link]

Fractional work?

Now that most people have finally worked out that multi-tasking is a bad idea—as well as being a gigantic hoax on those who were ill-advised enough to depend on it —there’s another panacea for all the problems of overwork: so-called “fractional work.“ As usual with such fashions, the idea comes draped in all kinds of jargon. What it really means is organizations “hiring” people for extremely short periods— a kind of part-time working, where each part may be no more than a few hours a week for one or two weeks. Is this the answer to making employment more civilized? You be the judge. [link]

The luck of the Irish?

A very appropriate link for St. Patrick’s Day, I think. Recently, Ireland had a national work/life balance day, sponsored by the government and IBEC, a business and employer group. IBEC even admitted that “long commutes, caring responsibilities and lack of personal time can interfere with employees’ ability to perform.” During the “Dark Ages,” after the fall of the Roam Empire, the Irish are credited with saving Western civilization by providing a haven for learning and scholars, beyond the reach of the barbarian hoards sweeping the rest of Europe. Perhaps they’re going to do it again. I certainly cannot imagine an employer and government sponsored push for better work/life balance here in the USA. [link]

Romance and the crowded calendar

Here’s an aspect of a work-only lifestyle that I hadn’t thought about: how do you find time for dating? A lady in Chicago, who estimates she sometimes works 100 hours a week, seems resigned to the fact that, even at the ripe old age of 32, she really has no time to form any kind of romantic relationship. “When I was with a man, he would literally have to make an appointment to see me,” she said. “My business comes first. I don’t mean to sound cold or cruel, but [public relations] is a demanding business,” If you want to try to feel sorry for all these ultra-successful people who have no time for love and romance, try this article from the Chicago Tribune. [link]

Smug? Self-satisfied? Exhausted?

I couldn’t quite believe parts of an article about Jane Friedman, the CEO of HarperCollins publishers, in Modern Mom. Asked about her “childcare situation,” (I think that means looking after the children), she said: “It was the best it could possibly be. I hired a professional nanny.” Asked about the toughest times, she said: “The hardest balancing act [for work and life] occurred during my very long, contentious divorce.” Divorce? Despite the perfect childcare situation? But then: “I did not let the discussion about “go to work,” “stay at home” bother me. ” And here’s some great advice for every woman trying to balance working and bringing up a family: “But forget about sleeping. I have not slept through the night for 31 years. Also, for sure, hire a smart and kind caregiver.” Hear that? If you can’t afford a caregiver, I guess you aren’t worth talking to. [link]

Are you better off not being promoted?

According to research by HR consultancy DDI, nearly six out of 10 managers rated the challenges associated with securing a career transition as second only to dealing with divorce. Still, I couldn’t help wondering whether the people polled were really bright enough to cope with any kind of promotion. “More than three quarters of the leaders polled said understanding that the new role required a different way of thinking would have helped them to be more successful, with nine out of 10 strongly agreeing.” A new role might require a different way of thinking? Imagine that! Still, in the dog-eat-dog world of Hamburger Management, it’s hardly surprising that jealousy and envy were also major problems faced by the newly-promoted. Or that “. . . we have to re-build our notion that people are there to help. Sometimes they are there to make you fail.” [link]

Not just a gender issue?

Writing in The American Prospect, Courtney Martin focuses on the problems men face in trying to spend enough time with their children and family, as a well as hold down a demanding job. His own father, a lawyer, would, it seems” . . . would get up at 4:30 a.m., after maybe five hours of sleep, and get to work so that I could put in a full day before showing up at your game at 4 p.m.” Martin claims that men have been almost entirely absent from the public conversation about these issues. He tries to set the record straight. [link]

Our employers don’t want what we want? Amazing!

I think this falls into the category of “amazing research findings that show what everyone else has known since the dawn of time.” A poll of 1,864 managers by the UK-based Chartered Management Institute found that, while managers valued making an impact at work, enjoying what they do, and developing their colleagues, employers, it was felt, were more focused on profit margins and becoming market leaders. You mean to say some people expected a majority of today’s employers to care about anything else? [link]

For big US accountancy firms, it seems, work-life policies are window dressing

“Researchers who studied two Big Four firms and two second tier firms have found that not only are flexible working policies viewed with suspicion by management, but anybody brave enough to actually ask for alternative working arrangements is going to find that their career prospects suffer as a result.” Ah, the duplicity of accountants. “Even partners, after a beer or two, would admit that work-life balance programs are largely window dressing.” [link]

Can Slow Leadership save the planet?

According to Work Wise UK, an immediate answer to some of the problems of the environmental impact of human activity on the globe is for the world to reform the way it works. According to this group, the widespread introduction of smarter working practices will significantly reduce the need for travel, both commuting and travel for business, making a huge impact to the levels of CO2 emissions from transport sources. Wow! I never knew I was single-handedly saving the planet via this blog. Apparently, here’s how I’m doing it. [link]

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