Help people in your teams avoid dropping the proverbial glass ball (family); you will gain their loyalty and achieve sustainable high performance.

The IT industry is renowned for long hours, deadlines and high stress; when I was in consulting we used to plan family holidays around project milestones. Balancing such demands with the needs of family and loved ones can be tough – but not impossible. Helping your teams achieve this balance is important; leadership is not about avoiding tough issues – it’s about confronting them practically, openly and with your own human vulnerability. [1st of 5 paragraphs]

Like any team or department in the workplace, everyone has a variety of commitments and roles in their private lives. Two elements of authentic leadership are necessary when considering the diversity of family roles that have converged in your team; work/life harmony and work/life sensitivity. Include these traits in your management style while also achieving the goals of your business and you will move towards sustainable high performance. [2/5]

Work/life harmony requires that you build a culture where people feel comfortable to bring their roles at home into the work environment (if they want to). Work/life sensitivity is about treating people at work in the context of their private lives, get to know your team for who they really are – you’ll earn their loyalty. Some people are very private so respect that and like any relationship let it develop naturally. [3/5]

The number of hours worked by IT on a project usually follows the hockey stick profile; fairly flat and consistent during most of the early phases with an exponential increase at the end. You can try smooth this out but it’s usually unavoidable – the last phases are very demanding; live data migration, cutover, defect resolution etc. Stephen Covey talks about depositing in the emotional bank account of people; do this with your team before the crunch hits, not only afterwards. [4/5]

“Steve, the testing ran late so your dev team will have to work this weekend to fix the defects; please give them Thursday off so they can rest up ahead of time. I know Sue has her wedding the following Saturday so we’ll bring in a contractor to cover for her as I am sure she needs her weekend free.” This conversation demonstrates work/life sensitivity and harmony but is balanced with the needs of the business, (oh and you should set the example – join the dev team and sacrifice some of your weekend as well.) [5/5]

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