Every Friday, I"ll answer two or three management questions submitted through the "Ask Lisa"?? link found on my blog and on my website. This week I will address two questions offered this week. If you would like to submit a management question for future Friday posts, click here.
QUESTION: During my performance review my supervisor pointed out that he can not count on me to work after hours because I have a young child to pick up from daycare in the evenings. Â He did not write this in my review, so there is no record, but it is obviously an issue for him and I am afraid that it may harm my relationship with him and possibly impede my career progress. Â I feel that this is some form of discrimination but do not want to press the matter through legal action. Â How do I balance my supervisor’s concerns and my personal responsibilities?
ANSWER: I will not address the issue of discrimination, as I do not have expertise in this area (talk with your HR manager for more help here). Regarding your question about balance, here are three things to consider:
1. Company fit – some companies and industries are more family friendly than others. It may be that a company that was a good fit for your lifestyle five years ago is no longer the best fit. This is unfortunate, but true. It would be nice if all companies made it easier for people to meet the needs of their employers AND their families.
2. Company culture – each company has a culture regarding work hours (and this might vary department to department). I have worked in companies where working on evenings and weekends was expected and how one got ahead. I have also worked for companies that did not have this expectation. At one Fortune 100 Company I worked for, the VP of Sales and Marketing expected his managers to be in every weekend and work late most nights. The VP of Engineering believed in working hard and playing hard and did not expect his team to work beyond 40-45 hours. As you can imagine, the two men would sometimes clash regarding the product development schedule. My department VP (HR) was somewhere in the middle of these two men, which worked for me at the time.
3. Results – Some managers can produce great results in 40 hours while others can´t (personally, I have seen that if a manager can’t do their work in 45 hours, they likely aren’t doing it in 60 either). I have always been of the belief that if I do great work, produce good results, and can do this in 40 hours that I will be regarded well by my managers. And I have found this to be true. There may be some work environments where this is not good enough (run, don´t walk). Something to keep in mind: I remember reading somewhere that 80% of us think we are in the top 20% of performers. I don´t know if the numbers are exactly correct, but I have seen that MOST of us think we do a great job and only SOME of us really do. It is good to talk with your managers often to have a clear sense of how they view your performance.
Here is the bottom line. If you are doing great work (and you know this) and your employer is not satisfied because you will not work after hours, I would suggest looking for a company culture that is a better fit or transfer to another department within the company. Life is too short to let your company make you feel guilty or stressed about being a great parent and spouse.
QUESTION: I´ve been considering getting an MBA. Would it be worth the time and expense.
ANSWER: It depends. I think there are good reasons and bad reasons for getting an MBA or any advanced degree.
To learn new skills and philosophies.
To engage with others in the learning process (often the best part of going back to school).
To become more competitive in a field that values the MBA (I begrudgingly say this) and you are interested in the program.
Because you enjoy university and would enjoy the program.
Seems like getting the MBA credential is the thing to do (the MBA has lost a bit of its 90´s luster)
Because you are bored with work. You need to do something to get engaged, but make sure the MBA is something you really want and value before jumping in.
If you have the time, interest, and means, I think going back to school can be a great idea. Clarify your goals to make sure that the program you select will meet your interests and needs. There are lots of options and, for most of us, an MS degree will offer the same career benefits as an MBA. Pick a school that makes you feel alive when you go there and people watch.