Note: The first two paragraphs sound like my ego ran away from me. That is not the point. This posting is really for you…. so please read the entire article!
I like to think of myself as both a “family man” and a valued member of the workforce. Over the years I think I have found a successful work-life balance. As a husband and father, I was very involved with my family. We went on vacations together, I attended most of my son’s soccer games and gymnastic meets. I was one of the very few dads who you would find at dance competitions, especially when it involved travel. I supported my daughter through cheerleading and volleyball. I taught at Sunday School, volunteered in youth programs, went to daddy-daughter dances. I went on date nights, escaped for a few weekend getaways with my wife. I pitched in with the housework, mowed the lawn, put up fences and did what I could to be the best husband and father to my family.
Having said that, I also did whatever it took to be successful at work. As the sole breadwinner in our family, it was important to take care of business. I went on business trips, spoke at seminars, worked through the night on two occasions to implement major systems. I rarely missed a deadline. I did whatever I could to be recognized as a leader. While in the Navy I was ranked as the number one Lieutenant in the squadron. I was nominated for instructor of the year at NROTC Arizona. I was an early PMI certified Project Management Professional. I got my master’s degree in Organizational Development. I served on a non-profit board. I did a lot to ensure that I succeeded at what I did.
I’m writing about this because I’ve noticed a trend in our society lately. Using family as an excuse to not perform at work. I’m running into this challenge a LOT lately. People (both men and women) blowing off work to be with their families. I’m not talking about scheduling a vacation or some time to be with your family. What I’m experiencing is the following:
- Routinely coming in late or leaving early because kids need to be dropped off or picked up
- Constantly arranging kids schedules at work
- Habitually leaving at the end of the day, regardless of the work being done.
- Never staying late, because they have to get home for dinner
- An unwillingness to travel at all, because their spouse can’t handle it alone
I told you about me, because you can see that I value my family. However, we also have an obligation to perform at work. I know it is hard to balance work and family life. But if you choose your family and disregard your work or your employer, you are setting yourself up for a disaster. You will be the first one let go in times of fiscal hardship. You won’t be competitive when you hit your forties.
Part of being a parent is also taking care of your family financially. That means spending some time at work to ensure you are competitive. Don’t believe the fallacy that your kids would rather have you home than at work. That is true, to a certain extent. But as your kids get older you will soon come to realize that you also need to have the financial capacity to provide for their growing needs.
Now, I’m not talking about spending 60 hours a week at work. I am talking about being present at work, when you are at work. If you need to leave early, then you should come in early. You can stay late one day of the week to make time for that afternoon you need to be at a soccer game. I understand that you might not want to travel all the time, but you can travel occasionally by getting someone to watch your kids for a day or two.
Most of you are aware of the pitfalls of working too hard, but I want to encourage you to do whatever it takes to be successful at what you do. Your family is not an excuse for poor performance at work.
I write this because I have seen a growing trend of poor performance in a number of my team members over the years, all because they “think” they are putting their family first. I recently had to let someone go because of this situation. Don’t let that happen to you.
All the best!
All the time!