You schedule everything in your work time. Yet when things are unsettled at work, your personal life can provide much needed stability. This article contains tips that will help you integrate your home life during times of professional change, be it job change, relocation, lay-off or exit plan. It will make your career and transitions go better for you—and everyone in your life. Everyone thriving is the end-result.
Time Factors in a Transition-Time
In an ideal world, the outcome of any career transition would be focused on everyone thriving. That includes not only the company achieving stated results, but you—and your family—having positive experience and outcomes as well. Companies with well-developed systems for carefully growing human capital anticipate and strategize change. Over time they have conversations to ensure a match of values, expectations and life-style changes that leaders face as they grow in their career while also growing a family and rich personal life. Coaching is provided in corporations with well-established growth trajectory and budgets to match that growth.
This is not always true however, in a rapidly changing world of economic competition, mergers and acquisitions, massive company lay-offs, and huge generations of boomers anticipated to exit while similar numbers of younger generations need to become educated as they assume powerful positions. Circumstances do not always allow the time, nor provide the opportunity, to assess the wide-ranging ramifications such demands make on employees at all levels and their families. While many couples succeed, at worst, we all know stories of professionals who become disconnected from their growing kids and on the brink of or going through divorce as a result of these demands of the work world.
Let’s face it. There is a huge cultural failure to fully address the interaction of personal and work factors that impact individuals, professional couples, whole families, business partners, teams and company leadership.
So whether or not your company provides a clear structure to assist you through transitions in a values-based, thoughtful way, it behooves you to thoughtfully address and partner on ways to keep you and your family close—in a preventative, “be prepared” sort of way that promotes everyone’s flexibility and deepens resilience—during times of change.
It is said that knowing when to talk about something—even knowing what to say—is an art. This is true when people communicate a great deal. In my experience, most people do not communicate enough. Or, about enough that is important to them. Especially when they’ve been together for some time. And leaders often don’t talk because they feel it is expected, they feel responsible or they simply don’t want to burden those they lead or love.
That said, hopefully you and your mate and family are truly up-to-speed with one another. Hopefully you have Regular Times to Talk and Listen to one another (Download the resource by clicking the link here) so changes in your work-life do not come as a surprise.
Even when people think communication is clear, there are often assumptions about what one another are thinking or feeling unless extra time is taken to make sure there is understanding. For example, one seasoned professional, unhappy in his role after a company merger, was exploring a job change. He was encouraged to speak about the specifics with his wife. Turns out she had not taken his unhappiness to mean he actually was ready to change companies in the near future and was actively looking. This opened up a Pandora’s Box and resulted in much needed discussions about location and lifestyle, children’s ages and needs, as well as impact of a change on their financial future. While such open communication altered the speed of one partner’s career transition, his career planning became integrated into a whole family’s future and helped shape the next phase for everyone. Communication also brought this professional couple closer together.
So, over-communicating is recommended, especially during times of change or potential change. And if communication is not free-flowing, I encourage people to lay the groundwork for such positive interaction by accessing the tips and tools offered in the resources here:
- Common Communication Wisdom is a reminder of basic skills we all forget or take for granted.
- Learning to keep your Positive Interactions high and the Emotional Saving’s Account abundant is protection against times of stress.
- Incorporating Regular Talking and Listening will help create that thread of communication and lead to greater understanding because you know how to listen to one another.
- “Bookend” your important messages with positives and use the phrase “This is very important to me…or to us…or to our family…I value us, I love what we have, so we need to discuss this change this is happening in our lives (say a bit more specific here about the move or the financial ramifications or…then end with why—because you love them and how “This is very important to us…for our future…”
Nothing in today’s changing world lasts forever, but human nature can easily catastrophize or anticipate the worst, and in the imagination it is a forever worst. You and your mate will do better, and you’ll help your children be less anxious if you practice thinking and speaking in blocks or segments of time.
Segments of time frame your career transition—or any change. Speak about it in terms like building blocks or stepping stones. Examples might be:
- “For the next 2 years my job requires that I… Let’s discuss how we can manage that time period as a couple / family. Then as we approach the one-year mark, we’ll discuss what happens after this assignment.”
- “Let’s discuss what we need to accomplish in the next 30 days and make a “to do” list. Then we will plan another 30 days out as we make this change with the family.”
In my own life I experienced a job and life change early on that I did not want nor ever would have chosen on my own. Agreeing to a two-year relocation plan with another transition to be discussed with my spouse at the time made that two-year phase both palatable and a learning experience I could eventually enjoy and thrive in.
Working with professionals and their families traveling around the world as they have risen in companies has repeatedly shown that those who frame the chunks of time for everyone involved makes it more of an adventure for their families. Plus, it allows the employee to be guilt-free and focus on work when at work and relax or participate in the family adventure during down times. Again, times that are discussed and known to all.
Which brings me to the third time factor to incorporate.
Time together will keep you and your family close no matter the circumstances. Human beings thrive in structure. This is especially vital when your mate and children are impacted by your transition. No matter what their ages, adjusting to a new set of circumstances will be more successful if you and your mate (and kids if they are old enough,) discuss expected times together and apart and how you will communicate when you are frequently working late or traveling for example. If you stay focused on Times Together and what you can look forward to, time apart may be less difficult.
Knowing you can count on specific family dinnertimes or bedtime conversations grounds everyone in a family for that hour or two. Laying out the schedule on a weekly or bi-weekly basis and having a visual calendar can be a touch point for young children who may miss their absent parent. Same is true for face-time or skype times with that parent.
If the transition is to a new city or country, gratitude or positive-focused dinnertime conversations about what everyone is learning, exploring or noticing about the new environment or culture can be enlivening. As a parent, including things you are experiencing and learning in your new work-role or position role models an integration of work and life. Young children often share about friends they are making, words they are learning in other languages or differences they notice. Positive oriented family discussion that doesn’t try to “fix it” can encourage everyone to contribute ways they might approach a new situation that could be challenging for some.
For teens, a useful approach is tying the current life phase into interpersonal and cultural skills and experiences they accumulate will develop their growth mindset and “skillionaire” capability—useful now and throughout their lives.
Use of these three time factors will keep you and your family close while you grow in your career.
Dr. Jan Hoistad / DJHPartners, Inc.
A Business, Career and Relationship Strategist, partnering with leaders, teams, and professional couples helping them achieve their business, career, relationship and life goals. Gain clarity, confidence and the tools necessary to succeed in both your career and personal life.
Have more of what you want. Go further, faster.
Learn more and find resources at www.drjanhoistadpartners.com
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