I see all the various elements of my life, as my life, inclusively. I don't compartmentalize my job life, my family life, my church life, and my friends life. My life is my life and I see no reason to try to bounce between different realities.
I think American homes struggle from a lack of leadership and structure and American businesses struggle from a lack of compassion people oriented perspectives. In short I think we can benefit by centering ourselves in the middle and then living our life in whole instead of in pieces. Here are some principles we can apply.
People Are Assets – Things Are Not
Our children, spouse, coworkers, employees, customers, and managers are our greatest assets. Our homes, products, cars, services, real estate, cash, and other fixed “assets” are not assets at all. They are potentially tools and resources but they are not assets. People are.
We must do all that we do within the perspective that the people that surround us are our greatest assets. Without our children and spouse why are we doing what we do at all? Without our coworkers and customers what is the point? Everywhere in our lives we exist to serve the people and to make the lives of those around us better.
At home you know that plan vacations and put your children in sports and activities to help your children grow. At the office, similarly, you have meetings, roll out products, and do whatever you do in order to help your people (coworkers and customers) grow. If your efforts will not edify the lives of those around you then they are likely in vain. This focus on people in the workplace has bottom line benefits that manifest themselves as a bi-product of your focus on people. Less turnover, less training expenses for new hires, more passionate and dedicated employees, etc.
Long Term Planning and Goals Setting Always Works
At the office you set budgets, track expenses, work toward short term and long term goals, publish results, and hold people accountable to key performance indicators. Why wouldn't we do that at home? Thinking more proactively about our family and where we are going is equally (if not more-so) important as it is at the office.
Do you have a 3 and 5 year plan for the family? Do you have family goals this year? Have you established action plans in order to move toward those goals and to be able to track your performance? Do all the members of your family know what those goals are and why they are important to the family? It works at the office because the principles are based on human behavior and not environment.
At work you probably have built in reporting and accountability systems. You need the same at home. How, Who, and How Often will you track and report on your goals and plans?
Meetings Are Important But Keep Them to A Minimum
Nobody likes a day or week full of meetings and training but they exist in business because they are efficient and effective. At the office there tends to be too many meetings. At home there tends to be too few. While the challenge at work is to consolidate meetings at home we can outline some of the ways meetings can be effective and what types of meetings you should implement.
Meetings may have many purposes. They can be in place as a regular session to discuss needs, plans, and goals. They can be an opportunity for people to hold each other accountable. They can exist to help train or teach individuals or groups core skills or processes. All of these descriptions sound equally sound for the workplace and the home.
In your home you may consider an “Executive Family Council.” EFC (as we call it) is a weekly meeting in my home in which my wife and I discuss the needs of the family and specifically address the upcoming week's activities as they fit in our overall plans and goals. Yes, we have an agenda with a few fixed items and some flex time for us to discuss whatever else may be on our minds.
One on one meetings with children or your spouse can also lead to enhanced relationships and productivity. At home these can (and sometimes should) consist of an across the desk type of setting but can also be outings or drive time between activities. Just like workers need direct time with their supervisors on occasion, so do your family members.
Family Group Meetings, are a time for the entire family to meet together like a team or department at work. These meetings can consist of fun activities, discussing family related topics, and also doing “training.” We call this meeting “Family Home Evening” in our house and hold it on Monday nights as recommended by our church.
To Much Work and No Play Leads to Meltdowns
At home we can generally more easily feel the tipping point when we cross the line into the meltdown stage. Children are good at expressing themselves when they are tired and worn down. Employees are more likely to try to keep those emotions to themselves. We have to be more perceptive of the needs of the people around us and the breaking points of too much work.
Have specific plans and cycles in business that allow you to push hard toward goals and deadlines and then take a step back and recover. Build in time to play or unite. Routine can kill and we must be proactive about breaking the routine in a way that is sure to surprise and ignite the people around us.
Consider your life and how you can use lessons used in one arena to be more effective in another. Then eliminate the arenas as much as possible. Be one person and live one life.