If you’re overwhelmed with handling both work and personal life demands, or simply wish you had more time for your family, then you might be thinking about requesting a flexible work arrangement.
(No, flexible work is not the “essential first step” to work-life bliss. It’s something else, which I’ll tell you in a minute.)
Is convincing your boss the biggest barrier to getting the work schedule change you want? Probably not; if you meet a few key criteria, your boss is likely to say “yes” to your request.
In many cases, simply not asking is foiling job flexibility plans. Here’s an example.
Before we met online, Alison* had been struggling with her full-time work hours for more than a year.
A research scientist and married mother of three, she labeled herself “one stressed-out lady.” Managing both work and family was overwhelming her.
How much overwhelm? Alison told me she was making regular visits to a psychotherapist to help her cope! She wanted to cut back her work hours, but…
“Everyone I trusted told me to keep quiet about wanting to change my life.”
Her exact words. Alison’s co-workers and others advised her not to ask. (Ironically, she works for a famous-name corporation who regularly makes the list of 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers.)
So she kept quiet. She didn’t ask. She continued to struggle—and to see the psychotherapist.
What About You?
Besides a flexible work schedule, what else could foster your work-life bliss? Okay, maybe “bliss” is overstating it. But what change would make your life run smoother?
- A boundary on weekend work emails?
- A switch in the car pool schedule?
- A change in how household chores are shared?
Is your strategy to “keep quiet?”
Let’s look at an effective way to activate the changes that will improve the quality of life for you and your family.
Take the Essential First Step to Make a Change
You’re never going hear your boss say, “I’ve been thinking: it’s time you restructure your work schedule to be more family-friendly.”
Not going to happen, right?
At same time, accepting the status quo keeps you stuck in work-life conflict. So what do you need to do to activate the change you want? Here it is:
“…the most important step in any negotiation process must be deciding to negotiate in the first place. Asking for what you want is the essential first step that kicks off a negotiation.” Women Don’t Ask, page 12, emphasis added.
Decide to ask. Then ask.
But not asking for the change you want gets you nowhere in your quest for a flexible work arrangement or other work-life improvement.
Look to Alison.
She reached her limit of dissatisfaction, stopped heeding the misguided “keep quiet” advice, and decided to take the essential first step: she asked for what she wanted.
After submitting her proposal for part-time hours she wrote back.
“I have the classic boss whom I thought would never say “yes.” You made the change seem possible, for a lot less than what I’ve been paying for psychotherapy. I have management’s blessing to switch to a reduced-hours week, working three days a week, as soon as HR can put through the paperwork.”
Not long after her part-time arrangement was in place, Alison emailed me with a happy report about having enough time to plan her son’s birthday party.
So asking is the essential first step to work-life bliss, in whatever form you define it.
Takeaway: You have to ask to start the process or else nothing changes.
Challenge: What change do you want for work-life blend that works for you? What’s your next move to get it? Let me know how I can help.