You know I read Harvard Business Review regularly. I recently read an article by Dana Sumpter and Mona Zanhour called: 3 Ways Companies Can Retain Working Moms Right Now. I’m calling this topic ask for and establish flexibility.
The article said that 865,000 working moms left the workforce in September of 2020 compared to 216,000 men. WHAT! That’s a huge shift! Huge. Here we are fighting for financial equality, positional equality, and now we are leaving the workforce in droves.
But you know what, I get it. We are the keepers of all things. We want our children to be safe, we want them to get a good education, we want them to have some sense of normalcy in all of this. I get it.
But for two seconds, can we just say, holy CRAP! I hope that all 865,000 of you find and listen to Legendary Leaders podcast so that I can help you get your business going and you can take care of your kids, share your gift, and live your life. Now here’s the deal. We know that not all of those women left to start their own business. Some did. But not all. Some left because they felt like they didn’t have a choice.
If you are starting your own business and you need the income from your day job to support your business until it replaces your income, I’m challenging you right now to demand flexibility. You are talented, you are worthy, the company needs you, so ask for it. Just because your boss doesn’t have a kid or doesn’t have the same attitude towards their own kids doesn’t make you wrong to want that flexibility nor does it make you selfish, inept, incompetent, or an underperformer. Stop creating rules in your head for yourself that don’t exist.
Demand flexibility and let them tell you no.
So what did Dana and Mona recommend? They said first, get certainty and clarity. Or, if you are doing this for your team (and I expect that you would, right, let’s treat our employees the way we want to be treated). Let’s be super clear about what their responsibilities are, what good looks like, and how you want them to perform. In other words, give them guardrails to stay within and then let them go do their job in a way that best suits them. As long as they are on time for meetings, deliver to the deadlines, and perform, don’t stress about the other pieces. Now, this also includes being super clear with your employee and with your own 9-5 what the expectations are around the “I had a random idea in my head and I wanted to share it with you” call that they may not always be able to take when you have that idea or that you may not be able to take when your boss has a random idea.
The second recommendation was to rightsize job expectations. Look, the demands from most corporate companies were already unachievable before the pandemic. Now they are even more out of reach. It’s time to sit down with your manager and update your job description, have your peers support that discussion as no one was delivering before and probably still aren’t. So get that fixed so the work is understood and reasonable. Do the same for your employees where it makes sense for a startup.
Lastly, continue to ask for empathy and provide it. No one can truly understand what anyone else is going through. Yes, this is business. But you are taking care of people first, so they can run they business. Let’s make sure the priority is right on this one.
Ask for what you need, provide solutions and ways to deliver to your job. If your supervisor says no, then you have a different decision to make.