Employees sometimes struggle with broaching the work/life balance conversation with their manager because they assume (like a novice salesperson) that they are asking for a favor. Before doing anything else, employees should understand their organization’s formal policy on the matter. Assuming there is one, they should change the conversation to focus on results, not time. The following is a quick guideline for navigating the conversation:
- Clarify Your Objective: Do you have childcare needs that require you to leave at 4:00? Do you have restrictions on travel? How about a need to telecommute during the summer? Before approaching your manager clarify your actual need and write it down.
- Focus on Results:If you’re a solid/high performer, discuss past results and ask your manager what are the most important deliverables going forward. While everyone has a job description, things tend to change and expand over time. Getting clarity on what is most important to your boss is critical.
- Ask About the X Factor: What are the one or two things that if accomplished would help you exceed expectations for the role? If they seem doable (taking into consideration your work/life balance needs), sign up for the goal.
- Make the Request: Note that you’ve reviewed and want to take advantage of the company’s work/life balance practice/policy. By being specific about your request and having a plan in place to ensure deliverables get accomplished, it’s likely that your manager will approve without hesitation.
- Suggest a Check-in Schedule: If you already have 1-to-1 meetings in place, use them to review the new arrangement and progress on goals. If not, now is a great time to start a habit that will benefit you both.
Too often employees approach these interactions with fear of an adversarial response. By understanding organizational policy, focusing on deliverables, and having a workable plan in place, the discussion can actually strengthen the employee/manager relationship.
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