I’ve written a lot about work-life balance and how we should work to bring our entire selves to the office each and every day. We talk a lot about setting boundaries, managing time and effort, and ensuring that we keep on top of it all at once, but rarely do we discuss how the things we do and learn at home can apply to the office. Rarely do we talk about integrating our home life with our work life and vice versa, and yet there are plenty of things to be learned by making the two work together in a more seamless way.
Building a culture of empowered employees is one thing—but how can you use your at-home skills to create a more empowered workplace? How can you use the capabilities you leverage at work to have a more harmonious home life?
Read on to find out the best way to begin to foster empowerment at home and at the office to ensure that you and your family—and your employees—can more thoroughly integrate a work-life balance and ensure long-term success.
Allow for Autonomy at Home and at Work
One of the key ways to support your family at home and do the best job at the office is to provide for autonomy across both areas of your life. Allowing your employees to make their own decisions and allowing your family to make theirs is crucial in building an environment that is supportive and productive in both places. No one—not your kids, your family, your partner, or even your pets—likes a micromanager. No one at the office will put up with it either.
Micromanaging can show up at home in a variety of ways. Do you closely monitor everything your partner or your kids consume? What about how frequently they clean up after themselves? Do you find yourself nagging them? In many cases, these things can seem small and unimportant, but when strung together over time, these behaviors erode your family members’ ability to feel that they have autonomy over their lives.
Consider this if you suspect you are micromanaging your home life: If you’ve experienced the focused attention of someone who is sitting on top of every little thing you do, how does it make you feel? Not so hot, right? Imagine inflicting that experience on your loved ones every single day, especially as we all slowly move from sheltering at home to interacting with the outside world again. Consider how you can change your behavior to allow those you love most to have the autonomy to do what they like without infringing on others.
Once you’ve considered this, think about how you can apply the lessons you may have learned while working and sheltering at home to the office life as things open up. No one likes to feel as if every decision they make is continuously being questioned and investigated, so lighten up and let everyone in your life have more freedom to do what they want, within reason.
One thing to note about autonomy is that by allowing those in your life, whether they are employees or your family, to have the space to make their own decisions, you offer them an opportunity to fully claim both their failures and their successes. Whether you are running a Fortune 500 company or managing a family, the benefits of autonomy can help build and boost success and foster confidence in partners, family members, and employees. A 2017 study shows that employees are more satisfied with their jobs when they have autonomy. In the same way, offering your kids the opportunity to practice autonomy has been shown to foster a sense of independence and mastery over their bodies, spaces, and activities. That can be hugely beneficial as they grow up, and it can allow them to become more well-rounded adults in the future.
The baseline for any healthy work or home life starts with boundaries. Clear, precise, and reliable boundaries that everyone agrees on make both your home life and your work life far more enjoyable. In both situations, boundaries can help support growth, autonomy, and success.
Boundaries help us humans understand the rules of the road so we can maximize our attention and focus on the things that matter the most, whether that’s succeeding in the office or living in harmony at home. Hate messes at home? There’s a strong possibility that you hate them in the office, too. Whether you communicate this to your family or your employees, you must give them a clear indication of what you expect and want from their everyday performance—and offer them clear feedback about how best to live in harmony.
Boundaries also offer a way to show compassion for those you live and work with. They help support paths for improvement, define various roles, and clarify inappropriate or unacceptable behaviors. For kids in particular, boundaries help them evolve into adults who feel comfortable integrating into society and asking for and getting what they need, according to The Child Mind Institute. Boundaries also teach children empathy.
At the office, boundaries help support employee growth and clearly define roles and paths for success, as this San Francisco Chronicle article notes. Boundaries help support productivity and prevent inappropriate behavior, too.
Additionally, boundaries allow for integration between work and home. Since work-life balance isn’t necessarily about balance at all (as I have written about previously, it’s really about overall integration of the two lives), by setting boundaries, you can tell your family when you need the time and space to work—and you can tell your office when you need the time and space to be at home. Boundaries help set priorities and support both home systems and work systems alike by creating clear guardrails for all involved.
Want those who live and work with you to feel empowered? Delegate important tasks. Kids and family can thrive when given responsibilities that allow them to grow and show their capabilities—the same way that employees can increase their responsibilities and improve their skill sets when permitted to take on projects both large and small.
For kids in particular, having delegated chores and tasks around the house teaches responsibility, self-reliance, and accountability—all skills that experts say help children become successful contributing members of society when they grow up.
In the workplace, having delegated tasks helps employees feel more confident in their work, feel trusted, and have opportunities to enhance their skill set. As the Harvard Business Review points out, “Delegation benefits managers, direct reports, and organizations. Yet it remains one of the most underutilized and underdeveloped management capabilities. A 2007 study on time management found that close to half of the 332 companies surveyed were concerned about their employees’ delegation skills. At the same time, only 28 percent of those companies offered any training on the topic.”
Delegating tasks can be as simple as having one child or your partner manage feeding your pets each day. It can also mean giving your kids the job of changing their sheets once every week. Either way, the trick is to provide them with the task and then let them do it on their own time and in their own way. One key piece of delegation is that you have to allow those you have given tasks to the opportunity to do the tasks with autonomy (see also the first section in this article!). If you delegate a task and then constantly check in or criticize the way it’s being done, whether you are directing the criticism at your family or at your employees, you are sliding into the role of taskmaster and micromanager—a position that is not healthy for you, your family, or your employees.
In both your work and your home, it’s essential to encourage and support individuality and diversity. I have written extensively about the value of supporting and hiring diverse workforces, including veterans, but did you know that encouraging individuality at home can be a massive boon to your professional life as well?
Encouraging your kids’ individuality can help them become confident, outspoken adults, and it can inoculate them against peer pressure, according to Parents magazine. It can also help them blaze trails when they get older and decide to strike out on their own.
At the office, encouraging individuality looks a bit different, but the idea is the same: Offering a workplace that is inclusive and aware of all perspectives, ideas, and innovations means that you will attract the best of the best to your company and ensure long-term success. Encouraging a diversity of voices means that as a corporate leader, you can make better-informed decisions and potentially gain a competitive edge over other companies that have not chosen to pursue diversity and individuality in the same way.
In any situation, it always pays to be consistent, but it’s particularly relevant when it comes to fostering empowerment at home and the office. Consistency provides a safe space for all members of the family or the business to coexist in a peaceful way, but it also provides space for participants in both places to grow and develop.
When children are growing up, they require consistency, whether it’s consistency of bedtime or consistency in how you handle their temper tantrums. Consistency helps children feel safe and supported, according to Verywell Family.
Consistency can be applied in the office as well. Do what you say and say what you mean, and your employees will thrive under your management and your directive. Consistency builds trust and helps employees feel confident in business decisions they make, too, according to the experts.
If you follow these five tips and leverage your skills at home to empower your employees at the office, you’re sure to set your division, your company, and your path to success on solid footing. Foster empowerment at home and you are sure to be able to foster it in the office—plus you can further integrate your home life and your work life in a way that works for you, your employees, and your family. In the new world, we are entering, the lines between home and work are increasingly blurred, and learning to navigate these paths is something we all have to work on.