You all know I have been an outspoken and fearless force for women’s leadership for nearly 25 years, so hang in there while I give you the most apparently baffling career advice you’ve ever heard.
Stop pushing yourself so hard!
What if some of the best tools for getting career satisfaction – even in the C-suite – are naps, meditation, a stroll in the sunshine, and fresh salad? And why the heck do I think your boss should be happy to pay for training that will help you master these unlikely management skills?
Because now that the boost to the bottom line from having more women in leadership – 18 to 69 percent more profit – is well documented, employers are realizing that it’s vital to both attract and retain top female talent.
One of the best ways to support both these goals is to teach yourself and your best performers – women and men alike – go a little easier on themselves
Forbes magazine recently reported that 39 percent of those likely to leave their jobs in 2014 say they are highly stressed. The same percentage report that they are dissatisfied with their work/life balance. This is something we can change – as managers and as individuals.We try to be all things to all people – except ourselves.
First, we women have to stop thinking that killing it at work means killing ourselves to get there. Our greatest asset can also be our Achilles heel. We try to be all things to all people – except ourselves.
Women consistently work long hours, parent long hours, and partner long hours, which leaves no time for refilling our tanks. We end up short on sleep, short on nutrition, and short on equanimity. This pace is not sustainable.
The all-too-frequent result of this full-court press is a hospital stay, a broken marriage, angry (or sad or depressed) kids, job dissatisfaction, and disillusionment with our lives.
The second part of the solution is for organizations to recognize that pushing their people too hard is in their own worst interests. The cost of turnover for knowledge workers runs from 200 to 500 percent of their salary. Equally costly is the impact on productivity and morale of having a key player burn out and leave the team.
If companies are really serious about keeping their top talent, they need to take care of these individuals as if they were their most important asset. That means instituting practices like vacation time without electronics or cell phones, without the requirement to check in.
Also needed are quiet spaces where people can retreat for breaks, even short naps, during a stressful workday. Having spaces like this actually boosts productivity and sharpens decision-making.
And if we as individuals are serious about keeping our health and our sanity, we need to institute some changes in our personal lives.
Of course, anyone can get more sleep or eat better for a day or two. (Did you know that the typical American dieter makes four weight-loss attempts a year?) The trick is to sustain our good intentions.
Here at the Institute, we have had outstanding success helping women leaders achieve sustainable transformational change in business. Now we are setting our sights on enabling them to achieve sustainable transformational personal change.
We have developed a program, which we introduced in March at our first THRIVE conference, that combines doable, well-tested and effective practices into a sustainable program that teaches participants how to slow down, smell the flowers, regain their energy, enliven their creativity, and enjoy both their family life and their career success.
Soon we will be launching in-house THRIVE workshops for our corporate clients who realize that the “care and feeding” of their best performers is one of their very best – and most important – investments. If your organization is interested, give us a call on Pacific time at 415-331-3222.
Photos by Kathy Indermill