Reducing Role Conflicts aka Improving Work-Life Balance

Currently, I work full-time, am a father full-time, and am a part-time student. Actually, I have been a student for so long that Spotify won’t let me take advantage of their student discount any longer. But that’s not the point of this weeks blog.

I shared some roles I play because this semester I’m taking a sociology course and this weeks chapter and discussion was around the societal roles we play. Early sociologist described this as us as individuals acting on stage. For example your work environment is a stage, your family environment is another, and so on. And on each stage you are a different character.

The same chapter also described role conflicts, the difficulty we have to balance our roles. A very common one, our professional and personal lives. So in my discussion, I shared how I have improved my work-life balance to reduce role conflicts, and decided that this week I would share with you my recommendation on how to get into a position to achieve this.

I will preface that it has taken me 16 years to get to a place where I can go to every single one of my daughter’s basketballs games, coach my son and child’s soccer team, and attend every single one of my other daughter’s soccer games. What I will share is what I believe will help you land a role that will allow you to reduce role conflicts because it will align with what takes priority in your life and what you value. I don’t want you to read this and think that you will achieve an incredible work-life balance tomorrow. It takes time, but I do believe that it is important that you work towards your ideal work-life balance.

Be Selectivewith your employer choices. Look at the company website on what their values are, do they align with yours? When being interviewed and they ask you at the end “Do you have any questions for me?” Ask questions. One of my previous leaders Trenton Peterson used to say in interviews “This is about identify if it is a mutually good fit.” So what do you need from an employer? Do you need to understand their paid time off benefits? Do you have children and need to know if they offer childcare benefits/discounts, or what you can expect if you have to take your child to the doctors on short notice? Are you preparing for a weight lifting competition and would benefit from a gym reimbursement program, ask if they offer it? Ask about their benefits program. To help identify what questions you should ask, make a list of the boxes a perfect employer would need to fill to avoid role conflicts. Keep in mind that not a single employer will be able to check off all those boxes, but the more that are checked off the less of a risk of role conflicts.

Be Forthcoming of what your long-term goals are. Did you learn that this employer offers tuition assistance and simply want to utilize those benefits for the last 2 years of your program to earn a degree in a different field? Then be forthcoming, I recall having an employee who did just that, understanding her goals allowed me to be supportive of her goals. If she had a big exam coming up, then I would ask how to best schedule her for that week. This was beneficial for the both of us because she got the uninterrupted study time, and I had an employee on the clock who present and unstressed. I have made it clear to my personal boss that once I complete my 2 year contract of my relocation package that I will begin looking for my next career move. I did mention that I would prefer to stay, but will not wait if an opportunity presented itself. Additionally, I have been very forthcoming that my children are my true bosses. I work because of their needs, not because of the needs of my employer. As mentioned before, as long as the relationship is mutually beneficial then our partnership will continue.

Be Realistic of what you can expect. If you made the choice to just get a job as quickly as possible, that desperation may have put you in a role with an employer that does not value you. I understand, remember I came from poverty, so here is what I recommend. Keep your resume updated, continue to look at different employers, and continue to schedule interviews. Opportunities don’t always present themselves based on your timeline, and maybe the dream job that wasn’t available before becomes available in 3 months. As Suga Free once said “If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.”

Networkwith people in the industry you want to be in. 4 months after I moved to Missouri there was a manager that was looking to fill a position on his team. In our conversation he said something to me that stood out which further drove me to networking, what he said was “I do not make my hiring decision in a 1 hour interview.” Keep in mind this is not a entry level position that he was looking to fill, but we expanded our conversation and here are the takeaways:

  • Network because you cannot highlight how incredible you are in a 1 hour interview.
  • Opportunities come unexpectedly and you need to do the ground work prior to the job listing, you might even have hiring managers calling you in advance.
  • Co-sign, having someone call the hiring manager on your behave to make a recommendation is powerful.
  • You are always networking, people advance in their careers and may be the hiring manager for the role you want in the future so stay connected with people that align with your values.

Take some time this week to create a list of your priorities and responsibilities in your personal life. Once you have done that begin to make a list of what you would need from an employer to help fulfill those things in your personal life, again keep in mind that I do not believe a single employer will check all those boxes but you will be able to identify which employer checks of more than the other and which one checks off the most important once.

Finally, update your resume and begin to network. LinkedIn is a great place to connect professionally and get industry insights, but it isn’t the only place to network. Recently I saw someone on Twitter mention that their last 3 hires were connections on Twitter. So that is a great reminder that you are always networking, and keep in mind you aren’t only networking online, you are also networking in real-life all the time.