The Eagle Blog

Career or Family … the Eternal debate!

I received the following comment on yesterday’s blog entry … and thought it would be a good topic for today.

Kevin, Good blog on employees doing “whatever it takes”. What are your opinions on those who at crunch time bail out and do whatever it takes for their family commitments? As a CEO how do you view these employees and how do you deal with employees who feel guilt about not being able to “keep up” with the single people?

The comment can be broken down into different parts:

1. What do I think of people that bail at crunch time?
2. What do I think of people that do whatever it takes for their family commitments?
3. How do I deal with employees who feel guilty about not keeping up with the single people?

What do I think of people that bail at crunch time? (Kevin’s thoughts)

When the job NEEDS you, then you really should make that happen. There will always be crazy circumstances that mean you can’t meet the commitment, but generally if it truly is a crunch then you should make the sacrifice.

Some caveats … if the job is ALWAYS needing you then that is not fair. If it is an occasional thing then you should “suck it up”. If it is a regular thing, but not all the time, then you should negotiate a “quid pro quo” that makes everybody feel good.

What do I think if you bail? I am bothered, and it colors my opinion of you.

What do I think of people that do whatever it takes for their family commitments?

Generally … I am a big fan of bending yourself out of shape to meet family commitments. Through my career I have been able to find time to coach both my kids in soccer (for many years) and have tried to attend every event possible. Having said that, there were times that work “got in the way”, and I missed some things. Quite often making the family commitment meant working later or going back to the office late or traveling on late/early flights in order to meet my business commitments. Most times I could work it out.

I believe in balance, but you have to be fair to the job too. Today we see many examples of alternate work arrangements and when these are well planned I think they give the company access to great people and the people access to rewarding jobs … in a mutually flexible arrangement. I like these arrangements.

“Doing whatever it takes” for family commitments is a good thing, as long as it is fair to both sides. When I perceive that the company loses in the deal then it bothers me.

How do I deal with employees who feel guilty about not keeping up with the single people?

In my experience there really is not a lot of difference between the commitment demonstrated by single people or by married people. Individuals make their choices, regardless of their marital status.

Guilt is a crazy thing and we all suffer from it to some degree. Partly it is the conscience that makes us thoughtful people, partly it is a negative erosion of our self belief system!

My advice to people is to make their decisions and live with them. If you decide to pick a family event over a work commitment that is your right, and if you make the decisions consciously then you also realize it may impact how you are viewed. At certain points in your life you might well choose family before work, but recognize those who do put work first will see the rewards.

Most CEOs are family people too, so you might be surprised at how understanding we might be about these type of conflicts. Having said that, if you are letting people down with your decision then I would be disappointed and that would color my perception of you.

One final point … it is important not to assume how others (including CEOs) think. If you are worried about how you are viewed … then ask.


Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on Google+

10 thoughts on “Career or Family … the Eternal debate!

  1. Kevin, you have precisely extolled the virtues of a committed employee/family (wo)man and leader. Give and take is a virtual given within the global business community today. In order to gain this, I must sacrifice that, is a decision that must be made consciously. It is a balance that can be struck in any given situation whether it is a business or personal situation. Walk fast and smile!

  2. Kevin, you have precisely extolled the virtues of a committed employee/family (wo)man and leader. Give and take is a virtual given within the global business community today. In order to gain this, I must sacrifice that, is a decision that must be made consciously. It is a balance that can be struck in any given situation whether it is a business or personal situation. Walk fast and smile!

  3. Interesting post, Kevin — I wonder if you feel there is any difference between men and women in these cases? I don’t have children myself, but I have noticed that it seems to consistently be the mothers in my officeplace that end up having to take unexpected time off to stay home with sick children, or deal with other family-type emergencies. Do you feel this reflects negatively on them, and is that fair?

  4. Interesting post, Kevin — I wonder if you feel there is any difference between men and women in these cases? I don’t have children myself, but I have noticed that it seems to consistently be the mothers in my officeplace that end up having to take unexpected time off to stay home with sick children, or deal with other family-type emergencies. Do you feel this reflects negatively on them, and is that fair?

  5. Wow … talk about putting myself in the cross-hairs while walking in a PC minefield!

    LOL! The intent of this blog is to be open and honest.

    1. I worry about the fact that women employees tend to take time off to have children (us guys have not figured out how to do that yet). As a business owner it is a concern about how you cope while they are gone. The bigger the organization is the easier this becomes, but it is always tough.

    2. I do not begrudge parents taking time off to deal with their kid issues. I do however begrudge being “taken advantage of”, so I expect fair treatment in return. If someone needs time off to deal with sickness, school or whatever then they should make that time up, and their boss should “feel” like it has been reciprocated.

    As a boss having to try and monitor that kind of “reciprocal time management” is a pain. If an employee goes out of their way to demonstrate willingness to reciprocate, then a boss will “feel’ good about the situation and likely everyone will be well served.

    I would suggest that if someone needs 3 hours away from the office that they unilaterally give 4 hours back. The extra hour is a good investment in a positive work experience for everyone!

    3. Women versus men? I think that probably 75% of Eagle’s employees are women, so probably women take more time off than men in our organization! They also put more time in than men.

    I really don’t think it is a gender issue, if the “quid pro quo” is there, then it is really not an issue. If the employee has an “expectation attitude” or is not readily quick to reciprocate then it is an employee attitude issue.

    4. If an employee is dependable, loyal and willing to “do what it takes” that is all any employer can ask. That employee will also always do well.

    Hope I answered the question!

  6. Wow … talk about putting myself in the cross-hairs while walking in a PC minefield!

    LOL! The intent of this blog is to be open and honest.

    1. I worry about the fact that women employees tend to take time off to have children (us guys have not figured out how to do that yet). As a business owner it is a concern about how you cope while they are gone. The bigger the organization is the easier this becomes, but it is always tough.

    2. I do not begrudge parents taking time off to deal with their kid issues. I do however begrudge being “taken advantage of”, so I expect fair treatment in return. If someone needs time off to deal with sickness, school or whatever then they should make that time up, and their boss should “feel” like it has been reciprocated.

    As a boss having to try and monitor that kind of “reciprocal time management” is a pain. If an employee goes out of their way to demonstrate willingness to reciprocate, then a boss will “feel’ good about the situation and likely everyone will be well served.

    I would suggest that if someone needs 3 hours away from the office that they unilaterally give 4 hours back. The extra hour is a good investment in a positive work experience for everyone!

    3. Women versus men? I think that probably 75% of Eagle’s employees are women, so probably women take more time off than men in our organization! They also put more time in than men.

    I really don’t think it is a gender issue, if the “quid pro quo” is there, then it is really not an issue. If the employee has an “expectation attitude” or is not readily quick to reciprocate then it is an employee attitude issue.

    4. If an employee is dependable, loyal and willing to “do what it takes” that is all any employer can ask. That employee will also always do well.

    Hope I answered the question!

  7. I agree, and I tried to make that point. I also think that at different points in our career/life we might make different decisions.

    There is no right or wrong … but there are consequences, good and bad, to every decision.

    When looking at the personal advantages/disadvantages you just need to be aware of all the facts.

    There are no easy answers.

  8. I agree, and I tried to make that point. I also think that at different points in our career/life we might make different decisions.

    There is no right or wrong … but there are consequences, good and bad, to every decision.

    When looking at the personal advantages/disadvantages you just need to be aware of all the facts.

    There are no easy answers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.