Rethinking corporations: escaping the beast, work-life balance and the corporate dream


DSC_0371Top of the list of a manager’s drama is the corporate intrinsic issue of Work Life Balance: huge challenge in complex matrix organizations where deadlines always seem to be for yesterday and stakeholders who put the pressure on the matrix are somewhat not reachable for an intelligent discussion.

Where I got it wrong: For some time, I believed that the higher you get in the organization, the more visibility you have over the matrix to control the requirements.

Reality is: the more responsibilities you have, the more intertwined you are with the matrix. Ultimately there are always two obscure demanding goddesses you can’t reason: financial markets and shareholders.

So what to do? Two options:

  1. You love so much your corporate work that it is your life: you don’t mind working 15 hours a day, waking up and sleeping with your emails and running from one urgency to the next. You actually love it! honesty? I haven’t yet met anyone in this bucket who shines happiness. Have you?
  2. You create soothing band aids:
    • meditate a lot to create SPACE in your mind
    • prioritize your tasks and learn to softly say no
    • never become a headless chicken: always ask the why  of a task or project
    • meet your more senior stakeholders often to make sure you know and agree what’s going on. “The boss said” is not goog enough.
    • aim for 80% perfection instead of 120%
    • never let the victim voice take control of your emotions (e.g.”poor me, what am doing at this time of the night scribbling a Powerpoint presentation?)
    • remember at all times that this is your choice

These are only band aids though: you are still working like a maniac missing out on important things in life such as spending time with your spouse and children or dedicating enough time to meaningful topics (such as peeling the onion).

At this point, you may wonder why I don’t simply discard corporations?  

Actually, I don’t believe corporations will answer our human needs if they continue to be blind money-making machines.

Watch this Ted Talk from Nigel Marsh:  on work life balance. He has it completely right: the change will not come from corporations because their intrinsic nature is to grow and optimize bottom line.

The change needs to come from Senior decision makers, managers and employees themselves: the end goal is not to meet deadlines, financial targets, market share objectives and consumer satisfaction… shear metrics at the service of a higher purpose: human happiness.

This is a major shift and we all need to take part in it if we want to reestablish the right balance. So corporate friends, are you up for it?

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