“I want a career that will give me work-life balance”. A young professional actually said that to me. Which means many more are thinking this way. First point, you can find jobs that target people who want the most flexibility. Working in the gig economy is a great example. But if you are focused on career growth, companies are not creating career plans with the objective of optimizing their employee’s work-life balance needs. Now I’ve said before, I don’t like the term work-life balance, because your active time is never equally balanced between work and time outside of work. That said, I do believe you can create flexibility.
What is the best way to get flexibility from your boss and company? Be a top performer in your job and demonstrate qualities that indicate you have more potential to contribute beyond your current role. There is a talent shortage in many industries right now. According to a recent PWC study, 77% of CEOs see the availability of key skills as the biggest risk to their business. The best way to get flexibility is to earn it. When you are a strong performer with high potential, your company doesn’t want to lose you. So they will provide flexibility when you need it because they know you can easily get another job.
Let me backup a minute. I’m making an assumption that you understand the power dynamic. But you may not, so let me explain. When you first start a job, it can be a new job with a new company, or a new role with an existing company, the power is in the hands of your manager. You haven’t done anything yet to contribute to expected outcomes, so your value is questionable. Therefore you are replaceable with a relatively low opportunity cost to your boss. That shifts once you become a strong performer who is critical to your boss achieving her/his outcomes. Now the power lies with you. The opportunity cost of replacing you is much higher.
Don’t look for careers that will give you flexibility, go after careers that will challenge you, that you will learn from, that will help you grow as a professional. Then create the flexibility you need by becoming the employee they don’t want to lose.
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