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I Only Have Two Hands: Another Look at Work/Life Balance

December 30, 2008

I continue to get great input on the subject of work life balance and the fact that it is such a struggle. So, I am now trying to go deeper into why this is such a problem. We all know the simple basic things we need to do – as mentioned last week – yet we still feel the pressure and the pain of trying to make it all work.

So, what is the heart of the problem?

It seems that there are some of us at FedEx who are struggle each day at work to deliver in our current positions. With the economic issues we as a company are facing, we are making decisions to try to do more with less. I have not meet a person at FedEx yet who is NOT conscientious of this fact, but still want to do a great job.

So, why are people feeling so overwhelmed?

Sometimes it may seem some of us are doing the job of two or three people. With the strong work ethic that we all have we feel we can’t let the ball drop. I have been told from employees that the work must be done. The process starts with us working more and more to make sure we produce all of the necessary work to get the job done. Then when that is done there is a pile of more waiting.

So, we all pack more in a day at work than we used to. Then, when we finally get to a point where we can rest we are too exhausted to take care of anything or anyone else in our lives.

How can we manage this madness?

Well, once again it starts with each of us. As a leader, I feel strongly that I want people to succeed yet, I want the department to succeed in its mission and goals. In order to do that I need a dedicated, skilled team who are committed and I want them to feel successful and not overwhelmed with work. I expect employees to tell me when the load is too much and it’s important to note that it does not mean failure: it means that we must work together to figure out how we get it done. I’ve gathered some tips to make things better at work when there is too much to do in a short amount of time. Hope these resonate with you!

  1. We must plan what it is we can accomplish today with the understanding of what is expected from our boss. We are paid to produce. That is why we are working here. Yes, I said working. It is a job. If it was play then it would be called play.
  2. We are trying to accomplish a bigger picture which is to serve our customers with great transportation and information services. Never loose perspective of why we are here. We must be organized and manage our time well at work. We are paid to do a job and we should focus on getting the job done to the best of our abilities.
  3. Communication is everything. The items that can not be done within the time frame allowed, we must inform our boss.  You expect your boss to keep you informed of what is going on and your boss expects the same from you. It is a team effort. If you have a short term productivity problem then you must develop a plan to make up the work. If it is one that can not be resolved without having help from others, you must inform the boss of this situation.
  4. Bring your ideas for helping to solve the problem. I try to remember that my manager pays me to do a job and as the old saying goes, “I am not taking bad monkeys to my boss and dropping them on his shoulders; instead I am bringing solutions to by boss.”
  5. I personally keep a running total of the team’s accomplishments, so that I can see that we’re making significant progress towards the goals each day. I share that with my manager frequently. I also share the items that can not get done and why. I provide a plan and timeline for when they can get done.  If my plan needs revision, we then try and figure out an alternative. Again, this is not done in a vacuum. I did my part to try and solve the issue.  They key is trying to help solve the problem.
  6. Respect and value help from your peers. Also, be willing to help others when you can. We are a team; no one can do it all alone.

The key is to plan well and execute as perfectly and timely as you can. The second point is to keep management informed of both accomplishments and areas where there are challenges. You job is to communicate and work a plan with your manager. Then if you can get balance at what you can accomplish at work, you will be on the road to success with balance in your life. You will also be happier as you can demonstrate significant accomplishments. Remember, only you can change this! It truly starts with you.

Next week I want to spend more time on talking about appreciating people at work and gaining help from peers. It seems we all want to be valued and respected. We also want to value and respect others too! We need to explore what it takes to be valued and respected. If you have some ideas send them my way.


Comments

    Brent Pinsent(CA YOWA) says:

    Hi Shelia,your 6 points given here are a great to getting our people’s mind around this do -more -with- less climate we are now in.Points that really stand out are communication is everything, bring your ideas to solve problem and respect and value. All the others will fall into place with these primary core values. With common respect and integrity given to everyone around us will insure us success in everything we do.

    You speak from the heart and that matters! Thank you for posts! I’m a mother of 2 adorable toddlers and there’s not a day that goes by where i dont ask myself wether i’m able to live that perfect work/life balance! But when i see my kids smile, then i forgive myself for all my shortcomings!

    This may be an ignorant question, but i’m wondering why we are not on to telecommuting (at least not here in Asia)? I would imagine that with our advance technology we can put all the necessary infrastructure in place. Fixed overheads can be drasticaly reduced in the long run – perfect for these uncertain times! Most of all, perfect for working mommies like myself who continue to seek for that ever elusive, work/life balance!

    Nedra says:

    Sheila,
    Excellent points, valid and a great way to give a “superhero” agent a new way to look at their situation. Points 3 and 6 are vital. Remember that respect will beget respect and that our peers are ALSO our customers. Assisting them is a fulfillment to the Purple Promise. Taking a step to being more cognizant of your own needs for help will alleviate stress, strain, and chaos. Communicate the need for help, AND let someone help you. It is a form of respect to accept help from one of your peers.
    We are all leaders in this company, we all exhibit an example to one or more of our peers. Setting the standard of respect and hard work and communicating a need for assistance, will help teach those that need guidance. Every employee has the opportunity to be an exemplary employee, give them an example so that they can learn and progress in that direction.
    The Purple Promise is not just directed to our external customers, but to our peers also.

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