Forget old school leadership styles – make the changes that will transform your team. Some would say that a work/life balance is the ultimate paradox. I say that those people are wrong. Improving your productivity automatically leads to an improvement in the quality of your life outside work and a reduction in stress. Think about it, if work is piling up, deadlines are looming (and they already feel unachievable) and you’re worried about work, even when you’re physically at home with your family or out with friends, your head’s still at work, so you’re not entirely present.
Here’s the bottom line; without your people, your business is nothing. So, taking care of your people matters – it’s not just handing out gift cards to reward performance, or instigating “novelty socks Friday” in a desperate attempt to make work feel fun. It’s about treating people well and recognising that they have a life beyond the workplace.
Everyone has things going on in their life outside work – whether it’s money worries, health issues, a missing pet, or problems with a relationship. And because people are human, not work obsessed robots, they can’t just leave those worries outside the workplace as they walk through the door.
A good leader knows and recognises this. They also know it’s not just about supporting your people during challenging times but recognising that everyone’s different experiences and backgrounds mean they’ll all respond differently to their external stresses – some will be able to compartmentalise, others may need adjustments to their workload.
The positive flip side of this is that those different backgrounds and experiences mean that each member of your team will bring different ideas and approaches to the table. Approaches which could transform your business. Listen to them, learn from them, support them, and make them feel valued – the payback you’ll get from a happy and motivated team will always be worth it, and business will flourish.
It’s about recognising what people can offer, but also understanding what’s going on elsewhere in their lives. Focusing purely on work and ignoring the challenges people face elsewhere will harm employee wellbeing and engagement. Your team will be less motivated, less productive, and less likely to stay – none of which is good for business and is likely to mean that you, as a manager or leader, end up feeling overwhelmed and stressed as you pick up the slack and fight fires.
That’s not to say we can eliminate feeling stressed or overwhelmed from our lives – if only we could! These feelings are normal and natural, largely because of external pressures and information overload. Plus, of course, the typically human traits of overcomplicating things and overthinking.
What we can do is reduce the pressure – forget that saying about pressure making diamonds, too much pressure just makes us exhausted and more likely to give up. Focusing on our well-being and exploring ways to do more with less stress, not only helps us become more productive, but it also helps have more time for things outside work.
Based on my own experiences balancing the demands of family life with running my own business, and working with clients to improve their productivity, I’ve developed a new productivity Method – S.O.U.L (Simplify, Organise, Understand, Leverage). To distil it right down to an elevator pitch it’s about asking “why?” you do things, decluttering your life, understanding the environment you work in and what that means for you, and delegating or outsourcing the tasks you don’t enjoy, or which take up too much time as they’re not part of your skillset.
Of course, there’s a lot more to it, but as a starter, looking at the things that steal your time – whether it’s spending too much time on unenjoyable jobs, procrastinating online, or ineffective planning (there are many, many more time thieves, but these seem to be the most common) – can make a huge difference to your productivity. And that, in turn, can make a huge difference to your stress levels, general well-being and how much time you have to live in the moment outside work.