Main Nav

For awhile I've been bothered by some of the expressions that we commonly use to describe our work and culture:

Examples include:

- Work/life balance
- What keeps me up at night
- The "real world' as opposed to the "ivory tower"  (See article in today's InsideHigherEd  http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2013/09/16/essay-calls-end-comparing-academe-and-real-world)

There are negative connotations behind these. For example, to be a good leader you have to be stressed at all times. 

I also wonder about behaviors that may send harmful messages to the staff. For example, if we use the weekend to get caught up on some work and send scores of email messages to our staff, especially in the evenings, are we communicating the expectation that they should be monitoring their email at all times regardless of what they are doing on a Saturday night? 

If our staff members regularly monitor systems in the middle of the night in addition to working shifts during the day, and we accept it because we're understaffed, are we tacitly encouraging them to neglect their personal well-being?

If you share these concerns and would like to try and frame some kind of discussion for the EDUCAUSE Connect event in Chicago I'd be happy to work on a proposal with you.

The session could be as simple as brainstorming with the attendees a list of phrases and behaviors to avoid as leaders because of their inherent negative connotations. 

We could also try to craft alternative expressions. For example, I could use help coming up with a replacement for work/life balance.

Let me know if you're interested in proposing a session together.

- David

David Stack, PhD
Chief Operating Officer and Deputy CIO
University IT Services
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
414-229-5371
david@uwm.edu

********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/discuss.

Comments

Hi David, A useful exercise for moving forward on your idea, and for anyone else interested in this, might be to show examples of those phrases inside of actual messages, or written down from remembered conversations, and including the roles of the parties involved, with any names or other identifiable information redacted. I suggest this because without that context I feel many of these phrases can be pretty benign. A casual conversation with my wife about work/life balance is a very different thing than a supervisor calling me in to say that we need to speak about my work/life balance, or if I am speaking with a colleague about work/life balance. Maybe the real issue we wind up with isn't how to word these things differently ("a rose by any other name..."), but rather how we can more productively and effectively engage with conversations about these topics. To go along with that could be a set of behaviors that we begin to work toward. Maybe instead of sending emails on Saturday night you can still write that Saturday night email, but we wait until Monday to send it if we're not expecting something to be done about it before then. Or if you feel comfortable with a "Do as I say and not as I do" leadership mentality, you write it and send it Saturday night, but you have a frank conversation with your colleagues that, "I do this because this is what I like for myself, and my expectations for you are not that you will read and act on this stuff when you receive it." I bring this up because there are those of us who work on Saturday night not because of expectations or the feeling of pressure, but because we have achieved that type of balance where we enjoy taking some time to work during our life hours in the same way that we enjoy taking some time to live during our work hours. Take care, Matthew Matthew Belskie, MSIS Educational Technology Coordinator School of Education University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Message from luke.fernandez@gmail.com

Apropo of this it might be worth revisiting whether the term "disruptive" is really a good term to use when building social capital with academic constituencies. Here's an article in today's Wired Chronicle that tries to tease out the biases inherent in using the word: We're On The Eve of Disruption http://chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2013/09/11/were-on-the-eve-of-di... Excerpt: "Last I heard, disruptive described my son’s behavior when he ate too many brownies at the Scout Jamboree." Here's another one perhaps worth reexamining: "techie" What are we really saying when we use that word? And why are we resorting to a diminutive when describing people who work with technology? Luke http://itintheuniversity.blogspot.com

I’ve always hated the term “work/life balance”  - work is part of our lives, not separate from our lives.  I use “work/home balance”  as I haven’t thought of anything more clever.

 

Why does anything have to keep us up at night?  Aren’t we allowed to say “I sleep soundly knowing I am doing what I can, with what I have, right now”? (that’s a play on a Teddy Roosevelt quote)

 

Julienne VanDerZiel

The University of Texas at Austin

ITS Applications Director

 

Office:  512-471-3041

 

Message from sreel@jhu.edu

How about Work Life Integration?

 

Thanks,

Stephanie

 

Stephanie L. Reel

Senior Vice President for Management Systems and Information Services

Johns Hopkins Health System

Vice Provost for Information Technologies

Johns Hopkins University

5801 Smith Avenue

Davis Building, Suite C-113

Baltimore, Maryland 21209

410.735.7333

Fax 443-287-9356

sreel@jhu.edu

 

David,

Good discussion items you call out here and I had not give much thought to the negative connotations (perhaps I have been doing this for too long?).  Here are some thoughts on the ones given:

"Work/life Balance" - What I think we are talking about is having a good balance between the two and there are times when one side is more intense than the other.  Here are some alternative concepts:
  • Employer of choice - Our university/department strives to be an employer of choice:  this includes many things (salary, promotion/reward structure, etc.) but it certainly includes this balance.
  • Family-friendly work environment - There will be long weeks from time to time but there is time to enjoy with your loved ones - not just vacation time either.
"Keeps me up at night" - These are things that we are responsible for (noting that responsibility, authority and ability to correct can be vastly different) that if they fail the institution is harmed or operations are degraded or cease.  
  • Mission critical functions - If they fail or are degraded the our ability to operate is affected.
  • Under staffed or under resourced - Areas where we have too few people doing too many things so one departure puts part of our operation at risk.
  • Risk tolerance and risk mitigation - I worked with a CFO who never lost a minute of sleep even though we were enduring some serious budget issues - CFOs and auditors understand risk and let's use their language.
As far as behaviors go...this is a big one and we do run the risk of sending the wrong message.  On weekends I am on email and will respond to important issues as needed but I try to not flood the email of my staff too much (let's face it, sometimes at 3 am is the only chance we have to catch up on things).  I want my staff to know that I am available 24x7 for any critical issues - this is appreciated by them.  However, if it is not a critical issue then I will not be contacting them on it via phone but may give them a courtesy email as a heads up so they know what to expect in the morning.  I do not expect ANYONE to put in the hours that I do but I do expect them to be available to address critical issues when the arise (i.e. a projector lamp being out is not critical but our College of Nursing campus phones being offline is). 

I have concerns that our staff are working longer and longer hours as more systems must be online 24 x 7 but our budgets to address salary and increase staff have diminished.  I look at the systems that are expected to be online all the time today and what we had 5-6 years ago and the number has increased as have the expectations of our customers.  Most of the staff are exempt and while the requirement is a 40 hour work week the expectation is that you work whatever hours necessary to complete the task.  There is no such thing as comp. time here so that creates some interesting situations and can be a real morale issue. I think employers get some benefits from exempt employees in not having to pay OT but when the needs of the institution expand and the staffing does not then this works against employees because their "normal" work week changes from 40 hours to 45 to 50 to ....Instead of investing in another position to handle the workload we ask people to just work longer or be available for after hours support?  That is hardly an effective solution and not in keeping with the "employer of choice" notion.  Then we have the equity issue where some positions are much more prone to after hours support calls while others are not.    

I would like to explore these issues (and related issues) further.

Thanks for letting me ramble on!

Curtis



I've recently heard the concept described as simply "Life Balance" for exactly that reason.

-Matthew

Matthew S. Burfeind
Interim Chief Information Officer
Massachusetts College of Art and Design
621 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
617.879.7872 (p)
617.879.7979 (f)
burfeind@massart.edu


I've led some institutional workshops on this topic and promote the term "work/life blend" for these same reasons.   Pulling from "blended-learning" this suggests integration rather than separation - a more accurate take for many/most folks.    


----------------------
Brad Hinson
Director of Teaching, Learning & Technology
Office: 303-315-0131

Sent from my iPad

On Sep 16, 2013, at 7:53 PM, "Matthew Burfeind" <burfeind@MASSART.EDU> wrote:

I've recently heard the concept described as simply "Life Balance" for exactly that reason.

-Matthew

Matthew S. Burfeind
Interim Chief Information Officer
Massachusetts College of Art and Design
621 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
617.879.7872 (p)
617.879.7979 (f)
burfeind@massart.edu


I like to think of it more as a harmonic rather than a separation.  Both have to work together in harmony all of the time.

Sue

 

Sue B. Workman, Assoc. Vice President

Office of VP IT

Indiana University

Work: (812)855-0913  Cell: (812)325-3928

 

From: The EDUCAUSE CIO Constituent Group Listserv [mailto:CIO@listserv.educause.edu] On Behalf Of Hinson, Brad
Sent: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 8:31 AM
To: CIO@listserv.educause.edu
Subject: Re: [CIO] Examining some expressions and behaviors

 

I've led some institutional workshops on this topic and promote the term "work/life blend" for these same reasons.   Pulling from "blended-learning" this suggests integration rather than separation - a more accurate take for many/most folks.    

 

 

----------------------

Brad Hinson

Director of Teaching, Learning & Technology

Office: 303-315-0131


Sent from my iPad


On Sep 16, 2013, at 7:53 PM, "Matthew Burfeind" <burfeind@MASSART.EDU> wrote:

I've recently heard the concept described as simply "Life Balance" for exactly that reason.

 

-Matthew

 

Matthew S. Burfeind
Interim Chief Information Officer
Massachusetts College of Art and Design
621 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
617.879.7872 (p)
617.879.7979 (f)
burfeind@massart.edu

 

These are good points to consider, in my view.  The continual negative messaging and language discourages those who might be tomorrow's leaders.   As a leader, we need to demonstrate capability. I don't think it helps any organization for the CIO to appear overwhelmed all the time, and sending middle of the night emails sort of suggests that. I have been guilty of working too many hours, sending email at 3 AM, giving up vacation days.  I grew to dislike the image that I created (not to mention the life style).  I am capable and I am not overwhelmed.  So now I talk about my vacations. I monitor to make sure my staff is not losing unused vacation time. I try to avoid weekend contacts to staff.  If we have to work a holiday or weekend, it is because it is a real need, not just a convenience.  I think leaders have to role model this behavior to make it OK for staff. 

Theresa

On Monday, September 16, 2013, David Stack wrote:
For awhile I've been bothered by some of the expressions that we commonly use to describe our work and culture:

Examples include:

- Work/life balance
- What keeps me up at night
- The "real world' as opposed to the "ivory tower"  (See article in today's InsideHigherEd  http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2013/09/16/essay-calls-end-comparing-academe-and-real-world)

There are negative connotations behind these. For example, to be a good leader you have to be stressed at all times. 

I also wonder about behaviors that may send harmful messages to the staff. For example, if we use the weekend to get caught up on some work and send scores of email messages to our staff, especially in the evenings, are we communicating the expectation that they should be monitoring their email at all times regardless of what they are doing on a Saturday night? 

If our staff members regularly monitor systems in the middle of the night in addition to working shifts during the day, and we accept it because we're understaffed, are we tacitly encouraging them to neglect their personal well-being?

If you share these concerns and would like to try and frame some kind of discussion for the EDUCAUSE Connect event in Chicago I'd be happy to work on a proposal with you.

The session could be as simple as brainstorming with the attendees a list of phrases and behaviors to avoid as leaders because of their inherent negative connotations. 

We could also try to craft alternative expressions. For example, I could use help coming up with a replacement for work/life balance.

Let me know if you're interested in proposing a session together.

- David

David Stack, PhD
Chief Operating Officer and Deputy CIO
University IT Services
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
414-229-5371
david@uwm.edu

********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/discuss.



--
Sent from mobile
********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/discuss.

Well said, Theresa!   I have had many conversations over the years with IT leaders about how the job has to be seen as reasonable and do-able by the emerging leaders, or we will never attract and keep them in these important roles.  Part of that involves us setting our own boundaries, as well as modeling and demonstrating that we can indeed do the job well and also enjoy life.   I think the practices you recommend are important ones.

Cynthia
-- 

Cynthia Golden | Director Center for Instructional Development & Distance Education 

University of Pittsburgh |Suite 834 Alumni Hall |(: 412.624.7218 |*goldenc@pitt.edu


From: Theresa Rowe <rowe@oakland.edu>
Reply-To: The EDUCAUSE CIO Constituent Group Listserv <CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU>
Date: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 9:25 AM
To: "CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU" <CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU>
Subject: Re: [CIO] Examining some expressions and behaviors

These are good points to consider, in my view.  The continual negative messaging and language discourages those who might be tomorrow's leaders.   As a leader, we need to demonstrate capability. I don't think it helps any organization for the CIO to appear overwhelmed all the time, and sending middle of the night emails sort of suggests that. I have been guilty of working too many hours, sending email at 3 AM, giving up vacation days.  I grew to dislike the image that I created (not to mention the life style).  I am capable and I am not overwhelmed.  So now I talk about my vacations. I monitor to make sure my staff is not losing unused vacation time. I try to avoid weekend contacts to staff.  If we have to work a holiday or weekend, it is because it is a real need, not just a convenience.  I think leaders have to role model this behavior to make it OK for staff. 

Theresa

On Monday, September 16, 2013, David Stack wrote:
For awhile I've been bothered by some of the expressions that we commonly use to describe our work and culture:

Examples include:

- Work/life balance
- What keeps me up at night
- The "real world' as opposed to the "ivory tower"  (See article in today's InsideHigherEd  http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2013/09/16/essay-calls-end-comparing-academe-and-real-world)

There are negative connotations behind these. For example, to be a good leader you have to be stressed at all times. 

I also wonder about behaviors that may send harmful messages to the staff. For example, if we use the weekend to get caught up on some work and send scores of email messages to our staff, especially in the evenings, are we communicating the expectation that they should be monitoring their email at all times regardless of what they are doing on a Saturday night? 

If our staff members regularly monitor systems in the middle of the night in addition to working shifts during the day, and we accept it because we're understaffed, are we tacitly encouraging them to neglect their personal well-being?

If you share these concerns and would like to try and frame some kind of discussion for the EDUCAUSE Connect event in Chicago I'd be happy to work on a proposal with you.

The session could be as simple as brainstorming with the attendees a list of phrases and behaviors to avoid as leaders because of their inherent negative connotations. 

We could also try to craft alternative expressions. For example, I could use help coming up with a replacement for work/life balance.

Let me know if you're interested in proposing a session together.

- David

David Stack, PhD
Chief Operating Officer and Deputy CIO
University IT Services
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
414-229-5371
david@uwm.edu

********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/discuss.



--
Sent from mobile
********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/discuss.

********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/discuss.

While I agree with Theresa, I feel it is a fine line between sharing “vacation” stories with staff  and becoming personally involved with their daily lives and being able to manage them. I’ve put myself in positions where it is almost impossible to get things done because of too much familiarity with staff…I don’t do that anymore.  

 

Dr. Robert Paterson

Vice President – Information Technology, Planning and Research

Molloy College

Rockville Centre, NY

New Phone Numbers for Molloy College
Main number:   516-323-3000

Direct number:  516-323-4848

 

Good morning David,
Last week A colleague and I completed our proposal for the upcoming 2014 Security and Enterprise  IT Leadership conference. The title? "7 Ways to Achieve Work Life Balance."  Your serendipitous post has provided interesting observations. Thank you.

I'm less concerned about the negative connotation of words and more interested in engaging people by sharing tips on how to manage our "connected" lives. We will encourage people to define  "me" time, unplug, to take time to architect their careers, to      define and celebrate successes.  An excerpt from our proposal, "Our discussion will likely serve as a much needed reminder that each of us has the power to control the fires at work and in our personal lives."

I would be happy to discuss more off line. 

Cathy

Cathy Hubbs
Chief information Security Officer
Office of Information Technology
American University
202-885-3998 

 

When I was teaching at the EDUCAUSE Institute I started using the phrase "life balance" to address this issue—the point being that work is part of my life, and in fact my life would be poorer without it. I enjoy my work! But not if it's eating too much of my life. My personal balance may be more work-focused than someone else's—that's okay.

One of the ways I have tried to bring this home to my colleagues is to avoid celebrating unnecessary "heroics". Real heroics are inspiring when they are necessary. Culturally (and this goes way beyond IT!) there is pressure to recognize and reward long hours, late nights, or skipped vacation even when doing so contributes to an unhealthy atmosphere, including a kind of competition that focuses on labor inputs rather than business outcomes. 

I tell my staff I want them refreshed and rested, focused on their work, and happy. If we need to rely their heroics, that's the state that will let them deliver what's needed. Until then, it's my job to help them calibrate—which means prioritizing and saying no sometimes, as well as working efficiently, celebrating, and focusing on the most important outcomes. 

Ethan



Close
Close


Annual Conference
September 29–October 2
Register Now!

Events for all Levels and Interests

Whether you're looking for a conference to attend face-to-face to connect with peers, or for an online event for team professional development, see what's upcoming.

Close

Digital Badges
Member recognition effort
Earn yours >

Career Center


Leadership and Management Programs

EDUCAUSE Institute
Project Management

 

 

Jump Start Your Career Growth

Explore EDUCAUSE professional development opportunities that match your career aspirations and desired level of time investment through our interactive online guide.

 

Close
EDUCAUSE organizes its efforts around three IT Focus Areas

 

 

Join These Programs If Your Focus Is

Close

Get on the Higher Ed IT Map

Employees of EDUCAUSE member institutions and organizations are invited to create individual profiles.
 

 

Close

2014 Strategic Priorities

  • Building the Profession
  • IT as a Game Changer
  • Foundations


Learn More >

Uncommon Thinking for the Common Good™

EDUCAUSE is the foremost community of higher education IT leaders and professionals.