Work-life balance is a big topic those days, probably because we feel that creating such a balance is impossible. What if we switched our vision on that issue? We all have the tendency to see the world either as good or bad, as interesting or boring, or as nurturing or starving. Even in my blog, I usually present a good and a bad side and reflect on ways to go from good to great. Aren't we a mixture of good and bad, interesting and boring, nurturing and starving?

Their are conditions that foster our darkest side as well as our brighter one. We should have a look at them in order to create work conditions that allow relaxation and anticipate the ones that create stress. When it comes to work-life balance programs, we should look at them in an integrative way. Work is part of your personal life as your personal life is part of your work. There is no way to really disconnect one from the other. We are subject to stress at home and at work. This means that we have to find ways to reduce the impact of stress in both personal and professional life. Stress is useful as long as you do not feel pressure from it.

In theory, we know how to reduce stress but in practice we do not take the actions necessary to reduce it. We have to learn how to implement those stress reduction strategies in our lifes. Usually, we see ourselves as victim of stress when we actually are part of the problem.

Living a stressful life may not really bother you but in the long term your physical and mental health may pay a high price. You could go through a burn out or simply get so tense that your relationships at work and at home may suffer. Take the time to reflect on the source of your stress but do not stop there. Take action. Even 10 minutes of reading or relaxing can help you lower your stress.

Negative Stress affects:
  • Mental Health
  • Physical Health
  • Relationships 
There are several strategies to reduce stress. You may already implement some of them but what if you complemented new ones.

Stress reduction strategies:

Identify your stress factors: This means also to take the responsibility for the stress you are causing to yourself: Being always late, procrastinating, not taking notes, avoiding...

Feed yourself well: Take the time to eat and eat well. Decide in the morning that you will eat healthy and not fall for a fast food.

Exercise: It is maybe time to go to the gym or take the decision to avoid escalator, lift and so one.

Sleep well: Your body rests when you sleep. The quality and length of your night will influence your reaction to stress.

Take time to do nothing "productive": Learn how to do nothing and your imagination will wonder and drive you to possible break through.

No phone & computer rule: There should be moments in the day when no screens are on. You will be present for the people around you and for yourself.

Discover the artist in you: You link to sing? Enjoy the traffic jam to let your artistic side illuminate the time alone in your car.

Set boundaries: Say "no" when you are not able to fulfill a request. It will save you time, energy and probably confrontations.

Differentiate "should" & "must" do: Your priority should be to execute all tasks that are a "must" and evaluate if someone could help you with the "should" one.

Avoid useless stress: There are situations when you can avoid stress such as not starting a discussion about your favorite team with someone who dislike it.

Accept what you cannot change: The weather, people's emotions and many other things are not under your control. Just let it be and learn how to detach yourself from it. This is a good time to use your sense of humor.

Forgive yourself and others: No one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes. Learn from them and do not judge people because of their them.

Express your feelings: Say it out loud. Today was not your day and you would like to be left alone. That's ok as long as you do project your anger on others.
Managing Work-life balance is learning how to listen to yourself and others in order to have harmonious relationships with all the aspects of yourself, bad or good.  
There is something very weird about the way we solve issues especially when it comes to help others. We either give them the solution considering that they cannot solve it alone or we give them the tools and knowledge they need to do so. We can see this in organization on a daily basis. Some bosses will always look down at you while leaders will give you the power to achieve your goals. I already clarified the difference between Bosses and leaders behavior in a post. The bosses are not ready to transfer their knowledge. Leaders on the other side guide your learning and give you hints when you need them. Sometimes we just repeat what we were told without really understanding what it means. We know that 1+1=2 but do we know why? In very specific situation 1+1 can equal 1 or 3. It depends on what those numbers and signs represent.

We created common frameworks of knowledge that allow us to communicate ideas quickly but sometimes we forget that the person in front of us may not have the same understanding or knowledge as we do. This is when we try to help them. This is when we think they need to know what 1+1 gives. This is when we assume that we know better when in fact we just know our way and not theirs. How many conflicts emerged when someone or a department wanted to help others and gave them a ready to use solution and then the solution was regarded with disdain and rejected? Doesn't it sounds familiar to you?

Well, then you faced a situation where someone was trying to assist you. You may welcome assistance because your need is punctual. In this case, it may make no sense to learn a new skill. I would encourage you to learn new skills when the issues happens more often.

There are 6 main differences between empowering people and assisting them. Here they are:

  1. Understand the person/group background
  2. Assess competences
  3. 2 ways communication
  4. Suggest possible ways to solve the issue
  5. Teach appropriate tools and knowledge 
  6. Guide and give hints

  1. Come as the savior
  2. Not pay attention to people background
  3. Underestimate people capacity to learn
  4. 1 way communication
  5. Use specialized language that only the helper understands
  6. Giving directives without explaining their consequences
Empowering employees seems to give them responsibilities for their fate while assisting them put them in a dependent relationship to their helper. It is true that we are all interdependent and that each department has a specialization. Unfortunately, the belief that IT people cannot understand or learn from HR issues or that Finance cannot work hand in hand with R&D creates paralyzed organizations. Working in organizations where everyone is assisting each other does not permit to dig deep in the issue and find its real roots. This may cause the issues to appear again and feed a vicious circle where the helper always has to help over and over again.

I am not saying it is easy to change from assisting people to empowering them. I am saying it is a must if we want to work in companies where solutions are found, people are creative, issues are opportunities and learning is a common thing. It is also more rewarding to see people go beyond their boundaries and find solutions to issues they know very well.

Who is the most competent to solve an issue than the one who is having it?

People do not need your assistance they need to be consider capable to solve their own issue.

Here is how you could go from Assisting your employee to Empowering them.
  1. Check background by asking questions.
  2. Assess competencies and knowledge
  3. Develop a 2 ways communication with feedback from both sides
  4. Define together learning necessities & ways to solve issues
  5. Teach skills and knowledge 
  6. Guide employee in the solving process
Empowering your employees helps to foster their engagement. We also have to take into consideration that some employee may never have the desire to be empowered and remain assisted. It will be your role to evaluate this need and make sure to keep your employee engaged.

I really appreciate when you share my posts and comment them. Feel free to write a comment. I will come back to you with pleasure!