When our personal life gets out of control many of us prefer to bury the burden instead of blaming our loved ones. But when the work gets nasty we know who’s responsible – the boss. But is it really that simple? To answer this question Fit in The Office invited an experienced international executive who managed thousands of people during his career. 

When I was first asked to contribute to Julia’a Fit in The Office project, I didn’t really understand what I could offer.

To put a little context to this, I am probably what everybody doesn’t want to be – a 53-year-old overweight single male in a management position. I could talk for days about business, but what can I possibly know about health, fitness and balance?

It wasn’t until I was sharing a bottle of champagne with a friend a couple of weeks ago where I started to understand what it was all about. As a leader, I influence moods and plans of people on a regular basis and that potentially has a huge impact on their life balance.

But that is not all of it: it would be too easy to say that ones manager is a key driver of ones life balance. All people are different, and balance comes in different forms and doses and there is no set formula that would be guaranteed to work 100% of the time. And in order to manage things we need at least to set some common rules and clarity.

So what is a major contributor to work life balance?

I think it is culture. You have the culture of a given country or region or even company and your views on balance will be formed accordingly.

Take Sweden for example, they have more of a “life/sometimes work balance” as part of their social fabric, and getting angry or staying till late at work seemed to be some sort of crime. Actually, for me it provided some much needed exercise just dodging the super-fast flow of people racing out the door at 4 pm.

Compare that culture to say that of a lot of the USA corporates where you are judged more by how many hours you are physically in the office rather than the quantity or quality of output you have as an employee.

Clearly two cultures will not have a same definition of balance.

However, if you are still convinced that it is your boss that sabotages your life’s harmony I would like to give you a piece of advice.

Regardless of culture keep in mind these 3 things to help you create a favorable working environment:

  1. Every boss is a human with flaws, strengths and weaknesses. And just like you he is also seeking work-life balance in his own way.
  2. Every boss has a boss.  In life, everyone is answerable to someone else – no exception. Keep in mind that many things that your boss “pushes” on you were pushed on her/him.
  3. There is no such thing as “common sense”. If it were common, we wouldn’t get ourselves into some tricky circumstances. So don’t assume that your boss knows all about your needs just because it is obvious to you.

In fact, learning how to handle the relationship with your manager can be very beneficial not only for your wellbeing, but also for your career. In the next two posts I will share how to:

  1. Simplify your life by managing your boss better
  2. Understand what pisses off your boss

Enjoy!

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