Problem solver: How do I balance my busy career and personal life?
Q: Can you give me any advice on how to get the balance between my senior management role in a large business and my personal life? They all seem to have merged into one 24/7 job?
A. Your question is an important one. Getting the balance right between putting in a good effort at work, and developing a good home life, is critical. Without the latter you will find that it interferes greatly with your work performance. Over time it is easy to add on an hour here and there to your weekly workload, or to start taking work home in order to complete weekly tasks.
While this is welcome on the odd occasion, it should not become the norm. Sometimes it seems like a conflict to get advice which says that when you are really busy at work, it is important that you go home on time. The reality is that the extra hour you spend with your family or enjoying a hobby means you will perform twice as well the next day as your mind is fresh and clear.
First of all you have to break the habit of working too much. It does become a habit when you do it over a period of time so be conscious of that. Start by doing an analysis or your typical working week and identify where there are tasks that you are doing that someone else could do, or you are simply not managing your time well. Become a great delegator and learn to say no where you can't take on any more.
There are now several great "mindfulness" apps you can download onto your phone which are designed to help business people wind down from work mode which you might also find helpful.
Finally if you don't already have an interest outside of work or a hobby, it might be time to prioritise this part or do something special with your family on a weekly basis.
It would be very easy to pay lip service to this topic and not implement the recommendations. It would be really important that you do.
Q. I run a café and I notice that when one member of staff is working, the amount of waste food which ends up in the bin is enormous. How can I tackle this as she is one of my best customer service members of staff?
A. What you describe is very common and in reality this member of staff probably believes she is making the dine experience more pleasant by piling plates high with food.
Not alone is there an issue with waste, but over a year the cost to your business could run into thousands. Broaden your approach to resolving this by taking into account all staff.
Start by sitting down yourself and working out the ideal portion size. You certainly don't want customers leaving feeling they have been short changed, or worse again feeling hungry.
Once you have this worked out, set it out on paper for staff and describe your portion in terms or a particular utensil size. For example, "one scoop of this or two scoops of that".
By investing in utensils you will make it easier for the staff rather than guess work which leaves it open to everybody's opinion as to portions.
Next bring everyone together and show them the impact of poor portion control. For example, hold a training session and have two plates on display, one of which has 20pc more quantity than the other. Visually both will probably look similar but demonstrate the annual cost of the giveaway.
It's important that the staff understand the rationale of where you're coming from rather than just be given a set of instructions.
The final step is to monitor it and ensure that all of the team are putting into operation what they have learned. You may want to pay particular attention to the staff member who has been over generous and help her overcome any worries she might have about implementing the change.
Send your small business questions to email@example.com