If you got 30 women of varying ages, professions, and locations together and ask them what they needed to make their lives better, what do you think their response would be?
Surprised? I was.
I attended a meeting last month and was surprised to hear the stories of struggles, choices, and frustrations. As much as I think things have gotten easier with flex-time, job sharing, and more involved Dads, women were griping.
After sifting through the gripes at this meeting, what I found interesting is the true gist of their complaints wasn’t the lack of affordable childcare services, but the perceived lack of emotional support when their schedules veered off the traditional 8am – 5pm workday. This can happen when dealing with:
aging parents or
They hated the “looks” from co-workers or snide remarks when they left early or came in late due to family responsibilities.
Would this have been resolved if they had closed the communication loop?
Women (everyone, really) have to stop assuming everyone knows what they are thinking. If they are leaving work early to attend to family needs, and their co-workers are working hard to meet a critical deadline, it may be best to say, ”Don’t worry, I will have the report to you no later than 10pm tonight – we will make our deadline.“ This is much better than sneaking out and leaving people wondering about your commitment. We all want confirmation that:
we are important,
our messages are being heard and
our commitments will be met.
When my daughter was a baby, I was a manager at a tech company. I changed my hours to 6:30am-3:30pm, which was much earlier than most of my team. I admit to pangs of guilt when leaving. Thinking back, this was pre-email and cell phones (yikes), which would have made keeping in contact much simpler. However, the guilt became less as my team realized they had my attention — the same level of support and commitment as before. Plus, early morning problems were solved before they arrived!
By closing-the-loop in communication, I think we create a circle of support.