The unexpected resignation of Victorian Premier Steve Bracks received a fair bit of press over the last week. It is a timely reminder of the pressures of high office and the impact not only on the individual, but in particular the family unit.
I recall writing an article on finding balance in your career way back in 1999. At the time I had just read Daniel Petre's Father Time (Macmillan, 1998) and the theme which struck home in the context of our sector.
“Take a successful senior male executive with all the trappings - status, power, money and control. He becomes a father and suddenly an aspect of his life becomes chaotic. He gets home at arsenic hour when the baby is crying, the toddler has a dirty nappy and the preschooler is falling asleep at her dinner.
"This is a place where his status and power mean nothing. He feels incompetent and retreats to his work, finding excuses to stay later and later. On weekends he finds it easier to work than to do stuff with his kids."
The result, says Petre, is that generations of children are growing up fatherless. The live to work ethic versus the work to live philosophy also comes under scrutiny. A balanced life is one which uses time at work efficiently while also providing dedicated time for family and personal pursuits. While Petre focused specifically on the relationship between father and son, the prevailing corporate culture demands an executive's total commitment, and the argument is equally applicable to men and women.
People working in our sector, women and men, are faced with a set of unusual circumstances. They are expected to work their usual week, attend evening and weekend meetings and show up at the games or events as often as possible. Recognition of the extent to which salaried staff give up their leisure and family time, equal to that of their honorary colleagues, needs to be more widely acknowledged.
When Sportspeople Recruitment reviews candidates for management positions, and in particular when we're seeking the candidate's view on the hours required to fulfill a job, the "work as required" philosophy is more often than not the mantra we hear. There appears to be an unwritten rule in our sector that it's OK to work whenever you're needed and it's acceptable to be needed in the evenings, on the weekends, before work or whenever required.
A recent Sportspeople Survey asked “What would you prefer? Extra pay or an extra week’s holiday?” It might come as no surprise 100% of respondents have chosen an extra week’s holiday.
Sure, a commitment to the organisation is important and an integral part of working with any organisation, but there has to be some balance to this commitment.
The strength of an organisation can be judged on its capacity to work as a collective rather than having a dependency on one person for its success. It's no coincidence some of the best managers we see also exhibit strong time management and delegation skills.
Invest time in your organisation to develop a work culture which not only respects and values the family, it prioritises family issues appropriately against work goals.
RM - Sportspeople Recruitment
First Published 2007