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10 Signs You Are Having Work-Life Balance

10 Signs You Are Having Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is a struggle for many people. Yet, this concept is very new.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first known instance of the phrase only dates back to 1977. The dictionary defines the term broadly: “Of or relating to both work and personal life; designating the relationship between the two.”

Today work-life-balance is a common notion and a concept many people pursuit. Find out if you have achieved a work-life-balance here.

1. You have clear priorities for your life

Coming up with clear priorities for your life means that decisions are easier. You know who is most important to you. If you’re struggling with your priorities and values, there are several resources available to help you. I recommend Michael Hyatt’s Creating Your Life Plan ebook.

Your priorities will tend to shift and evolve over time. A newly minted lawyer in his mid 20s may accept working sixty hours per week to build experience while a senior professional often has the confidence, experience and perspective to say no.

2. You say no to others in order to protect your priorities

Saying no at work is an art. If you constantly say no to the management, your reputation will gradually erode (and your chances for better opportunities and promotions will do the same). On the other hand, a thoughtful no demonstrates that you are thinking through your priorities.

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Tip: Do you struggle saying no? There is an excellent list of ideas and suggestions on how to say no in “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less” by Greg Mckeown and in “The Power of No: Because One Little Word Can Bring Health, Abundance, and Happiness” by James Altucher and Claudia Azula Altucher.

3. You accept that work-life-balance is not achieved every day

When you think of work-life balance, you may imagine an ideal world where you arrive at home each and every weekday at 6pm (or leave early to pick up your children from school). Unfortunately, you may not be able to achieve this every week.

For example, corporate accounting professionals often experience long hours during the month-end process. If you know that you will face greater than usual work demands at certain times of the year, plan in advance to meet those commitments. Of course, if you have just completed ten straight weeks of sixty hour work then you probably need to reassess your work habits.

4. You know that value is not measured in ‘face time’

Unless your workplace operates based on a billable hour model, simply logging more hours does not create more value. In fact, Parkinson’s Law suggests that adding time to your work day causes you to lose focus. After all, you may think that you can log in “just a few minutes” on Facebook because you can always make up the time later. In fact, you may want to learn How to Use Parkinson’s Law To Your Advantage.

Tip: Work experience, education and specialization are critical factors in attaining a high income. Simply logging more hours at the office, regardless of value, does not matter.

5. You proactively manage energy

Let me ask you two simple questions about your energy and productivity.

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On a scale of 0 to 10, how would you rate your energy and effectiveness at 10am? How does that compare to 4pm? Many people find that their energy and ability to focus gradually declines through the day. There are two work-life implications from that finding.

First, you sleep well and take use of other stress management techniques to keep your energy at a high level. Second, you keep a reserve of energy when you go home. Few spouses and children enjoy spending time with zombies.

6. You work at an organization that values work-life-balance

Some organizations have a better track record in the area of work-life balance than others. Instead of attempting to change the dysfunctional culture of a large organization by yourself, do yourself a favor and work for an organization that values work-life balance. Fortunately, more and more companies are recognizing the importance of work-life balance so you can find good options in many different industries.

Consult these resources for ideas:

7. You exercise several times per week

Some people consider exercise a luxury to be enjoyed and pursued “some time in the future.” If you are living a balanced life, you have understood the importance of getting exercise. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s physical activity guidelines, an effective exercise week includes both aerobic activity (e.g. walking, running, cycling, swimming) and muscle-strengthening activities (e.g. lifting weights and/or body weight exercises).

Without an effective exercise habit, your energy levels will decline and that will impact your ability to work and enjoy life.

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Tip: Learn how to restart your exercise habit with these 15 tips.

8. You plan one enjoyable activity each and every day

Anticipation makes life sweeter and more enjoyable. Growing up, you may have looked forward to your birthday or Christmas for weeks. Happily, you can harness that same power each and every day. It could be something like reading your current book for half an hour, attending a concert, going out with friends, opening the occasional bottle of wine, or watching Star Trek on Netflix (I enjoy all of those activities!).

Without something enjoyable to look forward to, the daily grind becomes much more challenging.

Tip: Go for active leisure activities such as learning a skill or working on a hobby.

9. You use your vacation days to relax, explore hobbies and work on your Bucket List

According to CBS News: “The average American worker is entitled to 16 days of paid leave. But the length of the average vacation lasts just over four days!”

That means 75% of paid vacation time is going to waste. Your paid vacation time is part of your compensation – failing to use it is like setting cash on fire.

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Here are five ideas on how to use vacation time to achieve better work-life-balance:

  • Save up money and finally go for that “bucket list” trip to Europe
  • Use the time to take care of a long neglected household project: painting a room is a simple and effective way to enhance it
  • Take an extended Christmas vacation: Few companies achieve much in the slow days between Christmas and New Year’s Day making it a perfect time for a vacation
  • Go to a play or sports event in the afternoon
  • Take a class or seminar (e.g. wine appreciation) to deepen your appreciation of your interests

10. You use systems to stay focused and productive

Do you have systems and habits to stay productive? That’s one of the best ways to save time so that you leave the office on time each and every day. You can start by creating some professional assets to increase your effectiveness. You can also experiement with different ways (and different times) to commute to the office. In some organizations, you can achieve a great deal before 9am because the office tends to be quiet early in the morning.

Here are two additional resources to enhance your productivity today so you can get your work done and leave the office with a smile on your face

Featured photo credit: Call Operator with Bluetooth Handsfree/VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.com

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Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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Published on December 17, 2018

15 Important Interview Questions to Ask Employees During an Interview

15 Important Interview Questions to Ask Employees During an Interview

The importance of asking great questions cannot be overstated. Great questions help you discover new things, diagnose existing problems, and explore how well solutions are working in your life or business. Whether you work with consultants, executives, or entry-level employees, you cannot skip questions.

Now imagine running a company where sustainability and profitability depends on your ability to determine the brightest minds and skills in the industry in a single conversation:

How do you know they’re the perfect fit for you? How do you assess their communication skills? How do you know they won’t cost your team in the long run?

You know it already; ask great questions!

The concept of asking questions isn’t new but there is a great chance that you’re not taking full advantage of it. A Harvard Business Review article refers to questioning as a powerful tool that unlocks value, fuels innovation and performance improvement.[1] As a hiring manager or recruiter, how to you get this information when you’re meeting a candidate for the first time?

Ask great questions, of course.

Without further ado, here are 15 interview questions to ask employees during an interview:

1. “What are your career goals?”

Another version of this question is “What types of problems do you see yourself solving in the future?”

This question is almost never asked and when it is asked, most questions are geared towards knowing how long the employees intends to stay in the company.

Instead of asking leading questions that would steer employees into declaring undying loyalty for the organization, ask what types of problems they hope to solve in the future.

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This does two things:

  1. It reveals the skills and interest in your employees.
  2. It lets you know what types of candidates you are attracting in the first place.

With this, you’re able to trend this data to improve how you market your job opening. And if employee retention is pertinent to you, you can use this information to improve the job function so that future employees can see their future selves in this role.

2. “Why do you think you’re a great fit?”

It is important to go beneath the surface to ask questions that make the candidates speak about themselves in their own words. However, a surprising benefit of asking this question is that you’re able to determine how well-versed a candidate really is with the company’s challenges and goals, in addition to their personal attributes.

Instead of listing off accomplishments, an exceptional employee is able to help you see how these previous accomplishment can translate into helping your organization solve its current business problems.

3. “What do you hope to learn from this role?”

The answers to this question can reveal if there is a job-skill match and if a linear career progression is expected.

As you listen carefully and mind these answers from candidates, you begin to see trends in responses that help you refine how you develop roles, responsibilities, how employees see themselves, and what they want their career to look like.

4. “How do you deal with conflict between colleagues?”

Almost every breakdown in relationship is caused by miscommunication or lack of effective interpersonal skills. But a solid indicator of how well a person communicates is how they manage interpersonal conflict.

Conflict management skills is no longer something required only for corporations who wish to settle million-dollar lawsuits. It’s an essential skill that every worker ought to possess and can make or break an organization.

Tip: Ask for a time when they didn’t get along with a co-worker and how they resolved the conflict.

5. “How did you learn about this position?”

Asking how they learned about the position reveals how the brand is perceived by the outside world. This way, you know if your current employees is your biggest source of referrals for qualified applicants.

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This also lets you know how effective your current staffing processes are and which channels are worth the effort.

6. “Why are you interested in this position?”

Again, another seemingly basic question. But when you field applications from candidates who are transferring their skills from a different department or industry, you want to know why the change was made.

What led to the aha moment? What was the internal struggle like for them? What stands out to them about this particular position? Very important.

7. “What excites you the MOST about this position?”

After establishing how passionate they are about this position, it’s not unusual that you would want to know what tasks and responsibilities excite them most. With this knowledge, not only are you aware of their sense of ownership, you help nurture these skills by encouraging and facilitating the discovery of hidden potential in your employees.

For example, a hospital nurse might detest inserting intravenous catheters in patients but jump at the task of motivating colleagues and initiating stress-reduction activities on hospital units. An office employee might cringe at the thought of public speaking but excel at creating world-class presentations.

While you can’t exempt your employee from every task in the role because they favor one thing over another, you are more aware of how rich your existing talent pool is in your organization and can utilize your talents effectively.

8. “What do you consider your weakness?”

Why should you ask a candidate what his or her weakness is when all you want is someone perfect?

Admitting a weakness shouldn’t automatically disqualify a candidate. Rather, it reveals to you how self-aware the candidate is.

Self-awareness is essential to personal and professional development, and this is sometimes a precursor to how self-directed a person is regarding their career goals.

There are arguments about the need to abolish the weakness question from interviews because it reduces candidates’ accomplishments. I disagree.

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Asking employees about weaknesses lets you understand your employees better so you can not only create a work environment that is smart, you’re able to design professional development programs that can strengthen these weaknesses.

9. “What will you find challenging about this position?”

Maybe you don’t want to ask the ”weakness question.” Maybe you’re more concerned about the capacity to perform in the current job rather than their job history.

Still, you want to know if you have a creative problem solver and how they feel about potential problems when they arise. You also want to anticipate how your employees will adjust to their roles once they are successfully hired. Self-awareness about one’s ability and limits can be observed by asking this question during an interview.

Note: This question should never be asked with a malicious intent. Exceptional employees come with flaws and this should be expected. They key is knowing whether the successful candidate is willing to be a problem solver.

10. “What additional support will you need during your transition?”

This is a very important question during the interview question because not only is the labor market diverse, the response to this question can be used to develop the orientation process and additional training materials.

As a mentor to newer nurses, this is a question I repeat more than 50 percent of the time during the orientation period. The responses I get provide me with insights into what employees really consider as constraints so that I can make their transition as smooth as possible.

11. “What qualities do you desire in a leader or manager?”

Not everyone desires a manager who provides direction while giving you free rein to make your job your own. At the same time, some employees might prefer a manager who is detail-oriented and provides all the answers.

Knowing this before a candidate is hired can prevent conflict arising from differences in communication or management styles.

12. “What do you do if you don’t agree with your manager’s decisions?”

Conflict not only happens between employees. According to a study of conflict in the Canadian workforce,[2] about 81 percent of people leave the organization as a result of conflict.

The purpose of this question is to determine how adaptable an employee is to different communication styles, what they consider deal breakers, and how they model desired behavior when conflict arises.

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The responses to this question allows you to manage expectations and an indication for leaders to continuously work on their communication and conflict management skills.

13. “What would make this company an amazing place to work?”

Maybe you can’t provide free lunches or paid hours of free time at work like bigger companies. But answers to this question can reveal a lot about what employees think is crucial to well-being.

In a study of nearly 17,000 employees,[3] it was noted that an increase in stress level is directly correlated to workplace injury. While this interview won’t eradicate organizational constraints or stressors, feedback from candidates and employees on what makes a company a great place to work is the perfect place to start.

14. “What other questions do you have for me?”

Although this is a conversation to determine the best fit for your team, company, or organization, the interview goes both ways. Yes, you are also being scrutinized by your interviewee.

The purpose of this question is to create space to answer the candidate’s questions about your organization. You also get to provide insight on processes, expectations, team culture, and information that isn’t readily available on the company website.

15. “Tell me about yourself”

If everything else seems too much, lead with this timeless question. You simply cannot go wrong here.

Sometimes, the best answers come from open-ended queries. This is your best chance to know the candidate’s history, career accomplishments, and get a feel for their career goals all at the same time.

It is less intrusive and leading with this question makes it easier to approach other questions––depending on how sensitive the position is.

The Bottom Line

Conversation is a two-way street. Good questions can give you great insights into the value an employee can bring to your company. But there is an art and science to asking questions.

While you won’t become an expert right off the bat, these questions provide a good foundation to start from if you want to attract and retain top talent in your organization.

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Featured photo credit: Drew Beamer via unsplash.com

Reference

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