Posts tagged work-life balance

Thoughts on Marissa Mayer

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An insight, an idea: Marissa Mayer

Yahoo! got the CEO they wanted. They wanted someone who would put work before family. They wanted someone who would make the company–and employees–toe the line.

So no more working from home, although Mayer has the clout and the capital to bring her home to work.

I do recognize, as Amanda Enayati points out in her CNN opinion piece, that Meyer was hired to turn around a company that isn’t performing. It’s entirely possible that the existing work-from-home policy was being grossly abused, and that this is an effort to rid the company of dead weight.

As this Forbes piece points out, Marissa Meyer has always put a premium on face-to-face interaction–so this move was a surprise to many, but in fact is in keeping with her track record.

But I also believe that it’s not fair to refuse to let people work from home during the day, but expect them to do so at night. And saying “You can work from home when your child is sick” assumes that you’re not taking care of that sick child.

Flexibility matters, as former HP CEO Carly Fiorina points out. Surely there is a middle ground–regular work-at-home days don’t have to mean that a worker is never in the office. And they certainly don’t have to mean that there is no accountability.

And the latest evidence that Mayer is delivering what Yahoo! wants? Her 6-month bonus.

$1.2 million? Come on.

It’s like Yahoo! wants the rest of us to hate them. And her.

Photo by World Economic Forum, via Flickr. Creative Commons.

Mythology: Work-Life Balance

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Yesterday someone came by my office for an informational interview. She was well-prepared and asked smart questions about the organization and the work itself. But then she asked, “How do you handle work-life balance?”

Sometimes I think that’s the equivalent of my two least favorite job interview questions: “What are your weaknesses?” and “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

But I think it can also be a very good question, because if taken seriously it can lead to a real discussion of what that means, and what it doesn’t mean.

Let’s start with what it doesn’t mean.

  • Work-life balance does not mean that you can “have it all.”
  • It does not mean that things are divided 50-50.
  • It does not mean that you feel no tension between different parts of your life.

So what does it mean?

Well, for starters, I think we can have it all–just not all at once. Life is about choices, and we have to choose what we want to emphasize at any particular point. So if you work full-time and have a family and a home, you probably are not going to be able to excel at work, spend hours each day with your spouse and children, and keep floors so clean that you can eat off them.

Or maybe you can. But I’ll put good money on the likelihood that because you have those clean floors, you haven’t cleaned out the fast food wrappers in your car since last winter.

When you really get right down to it, there is no single equation for work-life balance. Sure, some people will tell you that there is–but somehow the answer they promote is always what they do. That’s great for them, but it may not work for you. So don’t worry about it.

Determine what matters to you. What do you value most? What are your priorities? What are your boss’s priorities, and your organization’s? Do what matters most, and don’t worry so much about the rest. Find ways to delegate, or revise your standards.

Then again, maybe we should all just move to Denmark.

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