Manager Expectations Affect Work Life Balance

Shawnee Love   •  
January 24, 2013

Even though individuals have their own beliefs and philosophies regarding work life balance, as we saw in last week’s blog post, culture is one hidden way in which companies affect the work life balance of their employees.

Another unsung way a company can affect work life balance, is through the goals and expectations set for employees.  For example, if the work to be done is equivalent to the 12 Labours of Hercules, then work is clearly expected to trump personal life no matter what the framed mission statement on the wall says.  Additionally, if management often sends emails outside of normal business hours and publicly recognizes people at their desks late for their hard work, then the company is demonstrating in deed what it thinks about work life balance.

As a manager, while you may not have much control over the company culture, you usually can determine the expectations and goals of your people.  To enable the sustainable productivity (i.e., continually achieving over the long term) that most managers want, work life balance must be factored into the goal setting equation.  The way to factor in work life balance is to:

Make Expectations & Goals S.M.A.R.T.

In my blog post on goal setting, S.M.A.R.T. refers to goals that are specific, measurable, achievable (with effort), realistic and time sensitive. Realistic refers to whether the goal is possible with available resources of which time is a major constituent.  I have seen many instances where goals and tasks keep getting loaded on employees with nothing being taken away. As a result, employees struggle to “do it all”, and more often than not end up too stretched to accomplish anything despite spending way too much time at work. If you want your employees to keep up their good work over the long term, then setting goals and expectations with work life balance in mind is a best practice.  No matter what your goals and expectations, it is important to remember that as a manager, you play a major role in your team’s work life balance.