Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The balance

Many consultants use a 2 by 2 matrix to understand, & hopefully solve, all that is wrong with the world. I quite like it too for thinking in two dimensions is about the depth of challenge I can handle. One such issue is whether our jobs are a means to our career goals.

So you can make a 2 by 2, say by having priority on one axis & fulfillment on the other. Goals that are high on both priority & fulfillment will fall in the top right quadrant & goals that are low on both priority & fulfillment will be in the bottom left quadrant. The other two quadrants would be goals low on priority but high on fulfillment & goals high on priority but low on fulfillment - one such goal, typically, is work/life balance.

I think that this dichotomy is unfortunate. I think work is not, or should not be seen as, an aspect of our lives outside of 'life'. My experience has been that it is only dumb volumes that people detest; keep it interesting & still achievable, and I think, most honest employees may not complain. The difficult part is defining what is interesting & achievable for each employee - for it is subjective. Nevertheless, I maintain we should not see ‘work’ as something differentiated from 'life' in general for it seems like a corollary of McGregor's Theory X - which, I believe, is not a very positive outlook.

On the other hand, the case of overworked employees is a genuine concern. However, these are errors of planning. I think such we should recognize such mistakes & not hide behind politically correct banana oil like work/life balance.