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Posted on Monday, Mar 18, 2019
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Balance for Better’, which focuses on the need to build a more gender-balanced world. At Hays, we support and value diversity in all forms—not just gender—and believe that a diverse workforce and inclusive culture are essential to business success. After 11 years at Hays, our Solutions Manager Bernie Billings, explains how setting work-life boundaries enables her to become a better leader and be more productive.
1. What are some ways you ensure there is balance within the office?
In my current role which is projects based, I have only one direct report. However, when I was managing a larger team in Operations, or even now as I manage members of a project team, I believe that you must first and foremost encourage efficient work, i.e. work smarter not harder. The worst thing you can do is see burnout in your team and not acknowledge it. It’s important to get to the root of the issue and to address it.
For instance, I help members of my team prioritize their tasks, so they aren’t continually working long hours. I also help ensure vacation time is being taken and reward hard work with free time off. It’s essential to take the time to get to know your team personally and understand their family or other personal commitments—be flexible and approach your relationship with a give and take attitude.
2. How do you lead by example?
It sounds cliché but you must walk the walk. Don’t expect anything from your team that you don’t demand of yourself. Get your hands dirty, understand the daily challenges your team is facing and be prepared to jump in and help. Acknowledge and reward hard work! Don’t put unrealistic demands on your team. And most importantly, you must trust and respect them and be kind.
3. How do you benefit from balance both personally and professionally?
We as women tend to push ourselves to the limits, both in our personal and professional lives—often to the detriment of our own well-being. So, it’s important that we do find that work-life balance. Don’t only set goals but also set boundaries. For me, that means putting my physical well-being first, and then my emotional and mental health will follow. This gives me the energy and focus to be better at my job.
I like to get an early start to my work day, review my schedule, prioritize my tasks for the day, and make lists. By getting an early start and staying organized, I can usually get home at a reasonable time, go to the gym, have dinner with my wife, and spend time relaxing with my dog. It’s these simple things that recharge me, and in turn provide me the perspective and balance to be a better leader and more productive professionally.
4. What motivated you to reach a leadership role in your career?
The ability to affect change and to help others develop professionally is what motivated me to pursue a leadership role. I like to fix things and make improvements; this not only applies to systems and processes, but it also applies to helping people develop and succeed.
5. What advice would you give to female professionals who are starting out their career?
Seek a career doing something you’re passionate about. Be prepared to work hard but also have fun. Admit that you have a lot to learn. Build a network, seek mentors, ask questions, offer to help, and take on new challenges. Take care of yourself; if you need help or are feeling lost, speak up, you’ll be surprised how willing your leaders, colleagues and people within your network are willing to help and want to see you succeed. Believe in success, work hard for it, and it will come.
For more career advice and/or tips from our leaders, view our blog.