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11 posts from May 2010

May 03, 2010

Selling work/life to an old school mentality

Let's face it, some people are more productive when they can avoid a long commute. Others are more productive when they can come in early and leave early. But trying to explain this to managers with an old school mentality is a tough sell. About a decade ago, when I went to a four-day work week, I had to sell the idea to my boss on the advantages and I had to bend over backwards to make it work for everyone.

Aks the boss A blog post on Business Ian Magazine hit it dead on when a manager asks for help:

I been selected on my job to sell the concept of work / life balance to a bunch of managers who are from the old school and think everyone needs to be in the office from 9 to 5 Monday – Friday. Even though we have employees in the office during these times, it does not equate to productivity. However based on the research I’ve done, many people are more productive when given the opportunity to work in alternate locations (telework) and schedules (compressed work week, flex-schedule). Could you help me with some suggestions on how to best sell the work / life balance concept? I want them to walk away from my presentation thinking they have no choice but to adopt this program as part of our policy.

Robert responds with some excellent advice:

These programs/sales pitches almost always work better with the managers coming up with the solutions. The pitch is to SHOW them the statistics (power-point AND paper hand-outs, since they are old-school). Then, ask them how this could be implemented in their workplace with a minimum of disruption. THEIR solutions will be YOUR solutions, and YOUR solutions will be invested in by the managers. Remember, though, you are not asking for problems or disadvantages to the plan, but HOW to increase productivity in their department.

I want to add my own advice: NEVER use the words work/life balance or flexibility when addressing a group of old school managers. Only use language they can relate to which includes all the advantages they will get from a more efficient workforce such as an extra hour of work when John eliminates his commute. Remember it's all about the old school thinking: "What's In It For Me?"

Have you faced this scenario? Do you think it's possible to convince old school thinkers to accommodate the work/life balance needs of today's workforce?