WORK-LIFE BALANCE - PLEASE MAY I HAVE A UNICORN?
So, 17 years after we first worked together Jo Dolan and I are ensconced in our office near Milton Keynes. Anyone who knows us will tell you we’re passionate about what we do, and so All Bright Creative Solutions is our baby and we’ll nurture and grow it to its full potential. We literally love how performance communications can help businesses of all shapes and sizes achieve their goals.
STRAINED AND DRAINED
In the past employers have demanded a lot from us; creatively, financially, mentally and physically. It’s not an exaggeration to say there have been times when we’ve been stretched, drained and pushed to our limits - and we can take a lot!!! There’s still the memory of pushing Jo through Skipol airport in a wheelchair with another team member clutching a broken wrist behind me after a particularly big and brutal event in Amsterdam. However, times change, we change, and now we’re in the driving seat choosing a world where ‘work’ and ‘life’ have a better relationship.
BALANCE AND FLUIDITY
Does that mean we’ll deliver less than we did before? I don’t think it does. We’ll still work for amazing brands on exciting projects, across a diverse mix of media, and we’ll still commit 100% to delivering the most engaging and creative comms solutions possible. What is does mean is we’re aiming for Balance and Fluidity; with well-considered priorities, realistic and sustainable objectives, nourishing relationships, unfettered innovation & passion, little judgement, flexibility, responsiveness, extra fun, a huge sense of fulfilment and maximum client satisfaction. Does that sound do-able or am I expecting a unicorn for Christmas?
REACHING THE TIPPING POINT
I brought my daughter up separately from her father, and Jo, is the parent of a child with additional needs, so we’re very aware of the challenges that women and mothers face in the world of work – particularly when holding more senior positions. Also, the communications and events industry is a frenetic and demanding place and the ability to respond quickly and effectively under pressure is a key function of the job. Unfortunately, I’ve seen how relentless pressure can tip people to the brink, and so to survive you must be able to gauge when you, your colleagues or team are becoming overwhelmed or over-burdened - and you mustn’t be ashamed to say so!! Being able to recognise the danger signals of The Tipping Point; where you go from fully loaded, high functioning creativity and flawless delivery to frantic, pillar-to-post, ‘last minute.com’ is absolutely vital!!
STRIKING A BALANCE Quite rightly, Jo and I have talked at length about what balance means to us. We’ve joked about ‘forming, storming, norming & performing’ and understand it really will take us time to find our new normal – especially when we’re looking for new and better ways of thinking and doing. I like that we’re happy for it to develop organically and neither of us is keen to force it. We’ve both read articles about these incredibly high-flying, massively successful, mega-rich business individuals who exercise at 3am every morning, read ten books a month, carve their days into 15 minute slots for maximum efficiency and use massively sexy, time-management apps to bring them to their optimum effectiveness. Will that be us in 2-years’ time? I very much doubt it, although Jo does love a good app and a classy bit of tech? No, I truly believe we have a common vision of what our lives could/should be like, and that we have the desire, belief and commitment to move forward, upward and across our goals with flare, fluidity and balance. We’ll still deliver amazing work, but we’ll also be just as dedicated to making time and space for our families and, for want of a better expression, ‘real life’.
5 DANGER SIGNALS OF THE TIPPING POINT
1) Is a colleague/s showing anxiety around their performance or with issues at home? When a colleague or teammate tells you they feel overwhelmed, under-skilled and under-resourced – take the situation seriously.
2) Are they more irritable or critical than normal? Do they have memory or concentration issues?
3) Is there a lack of care and engagement in their role, are they having problems communicating with their colleagues or clients?
4) Are they playing the ‘blame game’? An indication that they are worried about falling short in their own performance
5) Are they less productive than normal, and are they taking lots of sick-days?
If you notice a colleague demonstrating one or some of the above behaviours, reach out personally - don’t send an email. Sometimes a good chat over a coffee or acting as a sounding board can be what’s needed to get them back on track. If you think the problem is more critical, encourage them to speak to their manager or someone in the People Team or, in larger organisations your Mental Health First Aider.
Some articles which we found very interesting around the future of working!