Working Mom's Success : Forget Balance | Make Your Own Recipe of Success !!
As an executive at a leading financial services and technology company with two young children, I’m often asked how I maintain a balanced personal and professional life. The answer is simple—I don’t. After many hours of self-reflection, conversations with friends and family, and debates with my husband, I’ve found a recipe for success with life-work integration rather than work-life balance. For me, it’s not about striving for a perfect balancing act but rather integrating across all aspects of life so you can bring your whole self to everything you do.
What does integration really mean? Just a few of my daily mantras:
- Make trade-offs: dropping my preschooler off at school once a week or taking that 5:30 p.m. call from the car.
- Declare priorities: getting home for dinner knowing there will be a little late-night email.
- Ask for help: thank goodness for meal delivery services and handyman companies.
- Breathe: which works for my toddler and it works for me too!
This isn’t rocket science, and I am by no means the first person to share. And I realize not everyone can say they work for a company that values the importance of being your true self in the office. But I’m grateful to be able to do this throughout my career at Capital One.
Working mothers bring a diverse and powerful set of experiences that can contribute to a successful team in the workplace. Research shows that a team of people with different backgrounds and perspectives leads to lower costs, higher revenues and increased profits—which translates to delivering for our customers in a better way. One of the greatest joys of my career has been my experience working in so many parts of the business, from front-line customer support to process management and even branding. In moving across functions, I’ve been able to learn from colleagues who approach challenges, manage teams and create solutions in unique ways, giving me an ever-increasing appreciation of diverse perspectives.
Over the course of my career, I’ve become a better teammate and leader because of how I’ve responded to the opportunities that I’ve been given—as well as the ones I asked for. That’s not to say that I’ve taken advantage of all of them in the way that was expected, but sometimes walking away from an opportunity is as powerful as accepting one.
A few years ago, I was in a role that I absolutely loved! I was close to our customers and hearing what they needed. I was close to our product development teams and helping to influence the next generation of service experiences. I had a fabulous manager who challenged me and was my best advocate, plus I loved my entire team.
The challenge was: My work required travel all over the world, and that didn’t integrate so well with my life. I knew I wanted to keep growing in my career, but I also wanted to be home for all of the milestone moments with my family. I had two young children under age 3. I wanted to be home for bedtime. I wanted to take them to swimming lessons once a week. I wanted to carpool with my husband to work to catch up and enjoy simple moments together.
At the peak of that role, I went to my manager and explained how much I enjoyed what I was doing, but that I needed something at that time that empowered me to find a better life-work integration. With support from my entire management team, I found another role within Capital One that stretched me in new ways while enabling me to be the best me—in life and at work. While it was a hard decision, I’m so glad I found the courage to ask for what I needed.
Managing life-work integration is always easier when your company offers flexible work solutions and great benefits—so be selective.
Here are 10 ways I believe working moms can gain success at work:
- Find what you enjoy. Work to capitalize on those skills and tell others about your passions and aspirations. Opportunities will present themselves when others know.
- Don’t let your degree hold you back. Never stop learning new skills. Request positions across the company leveraging your skills to enhance your expertise.
- Communicate openly with your manager. Develop a relationship with your boss so you can comfortably discuss your career and how it impacts your family.
- Identify and reflect on weekly priorities. Take time at the beginning of the week to identify top priorities and then reflect at the end of the week.
- Recognize accomplished goals. And identify distractions that have kept you from goals. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and continuously refocus your true goals.
- Let yourself off the hook. Things don’t always go as planned. Instead of beating yourself up, give yourself permission to let it go and move on.
- Enjoy a little spontaneity. It doesn’t have to be all about planning and structure. Be flexible enough to jump on an opportunity if it presents itself.
- Stay organized at home. It’s always easier to leave for work when you’re organized at home. Institute a weekly meeting to plan meals, date nights, child care, travel and such.
- Seek help from working parents. Take a minute to look around. Set up lunch with another working parent to swap ideas and advice.
- Mentor and give back. Relationship building is always worth the investment of time. And when we feel more connected at work we are more successful.
Managing life-work integration as a mother is always easier when your company offers flexible work solutions and great benefits, so be selective. Research and ask questions and make sure that any company you consider working with truly has an inclusive culture.
My entire career has been at Capital One, which provides associates with award-winning benefits, training, healthcare and recognition programs. I am so very grateful for the environment where I get to work. One benefit I’m especially proud of is our recent increase in maternity leave to 18 weeks and paternity/secondary parent leave to 12 weeks, in addition to our adoption/foster care leave. For this and so many other reasons, I’m proud of Capital One’s consistent recognition on Fortune’s 100 Best Places to Work For and the Working Mother 100 Best Companies lists. I encourage all working moms to find the culture that not only accepts them as mothers but also celebrates the value all parents bring to the workplace.
Courtesy: Melissa McDevit, workingmother.com
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