Category Archives: Career-Life Fit

5 Rules You Should Eliminate Now

Love Margaret Heffernan, and rarely have seen so much truth about organizations packed in so few words.

Published originally on BNet.com.

The dirty little secret of business today: there really are no agreed-upon ways of doing business anymore. Every company does everything differently, and you can’t really compare them because there are no controlled experiments. So it isn’t a science.

But here are five very old rules that I see successful companies breaking all the time. I thought they’d give you some food for thought – unless you’re already breaking all of these– which I very much doubt.

1. Set working hours

Forget 9 – 5. Try to get rid of face time. All your team should have goals they’re accountable for but when and where they’re achieved really doesn’t matter. Some people work well at night, some early morning, some don’t get up til noon. I’ve always told my employees that, as long as they didn’t mess their co-workers around, I didn’t care what hours they worked. No one let me down.

2. Limit vacation time

The communications firm Global Tolerance doesn’t give employees vacation allowances. They just trust people to manage their time on and their time off in such a way that co-workers and clients aren’t disappointed. With a 40% per year growth rate for the last 4 years, this does not appear to have hurt them. To the contrary, it’s one of the things that has provoked high levels of commitment.

3. Agonize over maternity leave

Everywhere I go, business owners tell me that, sure, they want to hire women – but especially in small companies, losing a key employee for weeks or months on end, due to maternity, isn’t feasible. In Europe, where there’s statutory maternity leave (actually there is everywhere in the world except Lesotho, Papua New Guinea, Swaziland and the U.S.), being required to give women time off enrages many men. Every woman I’ve ever employed wanted to come back to work and wanted not to lose touch. With each one, I reached a different agreement about how we’d manage the time off – and in no case was I disappointed. Some did a day a week all through their leave; some wanted to come back early and take time off later. All these formations worked.

By the way, individuals may choose whether or not to have kids but they can’t choose whether or not to have parents. So think about maternity leave as your rehearsal for the day when most of your workforce have elderly parents they need to attend to.

4.  Fire slowly

Everyone makes mistakes hiring, whether they are quick and instinctive or slow and methodical. And usually that mistake is obvious in the first 6 months. Do not think you can turn this around. It’s distracting, time-consuming and you will fail. If you goofed, ‘fess up and move on.

5. Skimp on severance

This comes via Jonathan Kaplan, CEO of Pure Digital. “We gave our workers four to six months’ severance, even if they’d worked only four months. You might think that’s crazy. But it was our mistake to hire that person. And it’s not that much money, really.” Of course those employees left the company feeling pretty good about it – and spreading the word that it was a good place to work. Cheaper than headhunters!

Are there any old rules that you’re breaking? Would you try breaking these five? Why or why not?

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Filed under Business Advice, Career-Life Fit, Mothers & Fathers, Work-Life Fit

This is NOT Progress: Americans Now Think 40 hrs is “Part-Time”

This is definitely NOT the direction we want to be heading. From Business Insider:

Americans consider a 40-hour work week as “part time” in most professional jobs and as a sign of a stagnant career, according to a recent study by the Center for American Progress.

Just as income inequality grows, so does the divide between those who have too much work, and those who have too little. We are a nation divided into the overemployed and the underemployed – a result fueled by the structure of our workplaces, our cultural attitudes about work, and increasing economic insecurity that pressures everyone to try to get ahead and stay ahead no matter what it takes.
And look at the jump the number of middle income and professional women working over 50 hours a week (3.4 > 8.3% and 6.1 > 14.4%), that’s the result of families increasing the number of hours the woman works in an attempt to make up for increasing fixed costs and stagnant wages for men.
On both ends of the income scale, we’re at the breaking point.

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Filed under Career-Life Fit, Economy, Fatherhood, Motherhood, News & Commentary, Workplace and Employment

Resume Advice After a Career Break: An Interview with iRelaunch

I noticed that a number of people find my blog because they are searching for information on dealing with a gap in their resume due to time out of the workforce to care for family. They land on this post, How to Explain Gap in Resume: Caring for Family or…Coma?, which tells the story of one mother who was advised that she’d be better off telling a prospective employer that she’d been “in a coma” than saying she’d been caring for family and “doing nothing.”

I knew THAT wasn’t good advice. While I give some tips in my original post, I decided it was time to go to the experts for more advice for my readers. So I reached out to my friend Carol Fishman Cohen at iRelaunch. iRelaunch offers a range of resources and services for women re-entering the workforce. All of which are informed by Carol and her co-founder Vivian’s constant interaction with employers and recruiters, plus their own experience as hiring managers and recruiters.

Carol packed our conversation with advice worth its weight in gold, for mothers and for anyone with a gap in their resume.

Kristin: Carol, multiple studies show that mothers in particular face automatic bias that has a direct impact on pay and promotions. Being a woman and having a gap in your resume often triggers that bias. So what’s the most important resume advice for someone who has a gap in her resume? Continue reading

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Filed under Career-Life Fit, Interview, Money, Motherhood, Recommendations, Remodeling Motherhood, Remodeling Motherhood Tips, stereotypes, Workplace and Employment

FREE Teleparty for Mothers Starts 4/27!

Register Now!

Sometimes the universe conspires in your favor and takes its time doing so.

As my book was coming out over a year ago, my friend Beverly Schoff Belling, a life and creativity coach (Creativity on the Loose) connected me with Patty Lennon, a life coach and mother. Bev and Patty met as part of a Martha Beck coaching series and when Bev posted to Facebook about my book, apparently Patty “went nuts over it!!” Patty and I traded emails but weren’t able to meet in person on my book tour to the east coast back then. But we reconnected recently when she reached out to me to be part of the launch of her new online community Mom Gets a Life.

Beginning April 27 Life Design Coach and Mom Advocate Patty Lennon will be hosting a 3 week teleparty* for mothers. I’m thrilled to be the very first guest in this upcoming FREE event just for mothers.

Remodeling Motherhood: Kristin Maschka 

Wednesday, April 27th

1:00 pm EST Continue reading

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Filed under Announcements, Career-Life Fit, Motherhood, Promotion, Recommendations, Remodeling Motherhood

Book Review: “Good Enough is The New Perfect” is Out Today!

Click here to order!

Good Enough is the New Perfect” by Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple hits bookstores today!

Becky and Hollee are the work-life columnists for the ABA Journal, the professional journal for lawyers. Using their own stories and the voices of real women, they highlight the results of their survey of 905 mothers born between 1965 and 1980 (diverse in many ways but largely college-educated and on solid financial ground). What they found is that the women who were happiest were forging their own version of modern motherhood and letting go of a “perfectionist,” one-size-fits-all, out-of-date version of motherhood in favor of “the new perfect.” As Becky and Hollee say in the introduction, their survey and interviews showed them that the “key to success was, quite simply, to redefine it.”

I’m happy to be featured in the book along with so many other experts like Cali Yost and Ellen Galinsky and so many amazing mothers! Order your copy now and for more information visit The New Perfect website.

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Filed under Book Review, Career-Life Fit, Motherhood, Recommendations

6 Biggest Money Mistakes Mothers Make

Tonight I’ll be leading the chapter meeting for our local Mothers & More chapter on “The 6 Biggest Money Mistakes Mothers Make.” Join us and bring a long a new or gently used purse for our donation to Elizabeth house! Here are the “mistakes” I’ll be discussing with moms tonight.

1. Making “To Work or Not To Work” Decisions Based Solely on Short-Term Family Budget

When mothers wrestle with questions about whether to stay employed or not, or whether to scale back employment to make room for family, the conversation usually centers on whether the current family budget can afford those changes. Can we still pay the mortgage or rent? Could we trim expenses to make up for lost income?

Too often, all the longer-term implications are left out. How will this decision impact my ability to save for retirement? My Social Security benefits? How will this decision impact my future earning potential?

Whenever faced with an employment or financial decision, ask yourself:

How will this decision affect the short- AND long-term finances of my family?

How will this decision affect my own short- AND long-term financial security?

2. Falling Into the “Can I make enough to pay for childcare?” Trap

When our daughter was born, my husband had just started his second year at a law firm and I had just been laid off from a part-time job. We sat down together to decide whether I should look for a new job or not. Estimating the income we thought I could make in a job with reasonable hours, we subtracted taxes, childcare, and work expenses. There wasn’t much left. Working for pay didn’t pay much. So we decided I wouldn’t, because we could afford for me not to.

Three different things lead many mothers into this trap. Continue reading

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Filed under Assumptions about Mothers, Career-Life Fit, Economy, Money, Motherhood, Remodeling Motherhood, Remodeling Motherhood Tips, stereotypes

A Woman’s Work on Pay Equity is Never Done

Photo by Ian Britton at Freefoto.com

A divorced janitor, a 27-year employee and the mother of a seventeen-year old son with the mental capacity of an 18-month old, fails to report for mandatory overtime one Saturday when her son’s caregiver could not work because of a sick child. She calls twice and leaves a message for her manager. She gets fired.

As I read about this woman in Reshaping the Work-Family Debate: Why Men and Class Matter by Joan Williams, I wondered what this mother’s take would be on Jonah Goldberg’s recent proclamation in the Los Angeles Times that “Feminism as a ‘movement’ in America is largely played out. The work here is mostly done.” In a piece titled, “Taking feminism overseas” Goldberg goes on to declare that “Even the fight for “pay equity” is an argument about statistics, lagging cultural indicators and the actual choices liberated women make — to take time away from paid jobs to raise their kids (never-married women without kids earn more than men) or to work in occupations like the nonprofit sector that pay less.”

The only reason Goldberg and others can make this “choices” claim with a straight face is because the bias against women is no longer as overt as it once was– no more separate salary schedules for men and women. Much of the bias has gone underground, way underground, into our subconscious and into the unquestioned structure of our workplaces around the way men have typically worked in the past. Jobs are designed for a man who has a wife to care for family; 50-hour workweeks, mandatory overtime, inflexible schedules that can change at the last minute, and little or no sick time.

When mothers, who do still shoulder most of the responsibility for family care, find it impossible to fit this mold the resulting stories don’t sound much like “choices liberated women make.” They sound like discrimination. In fact, Williams and her colleagues at the WorkLife Law Center have documented a 400% increase in lawsuits involving family responsibilities discrimination “showing how mothers and other caregivers are pushed out of jobs they want – and need.” Continue reading

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Filed under Assumptions about Mothers, Career-Life Fit, Family Work, Gender Issues, Money, Motherhood, News & Commentary, Remodeling Motherhood, stereotypes, Workplace and Employment

My 6 Fave Discoveries from 2010

As a Happy New Year gift, I wanted to share 5 of my favorite things I discovered in 2010 – along with one RE-discovery. Hope you’ll share yours too!

1. CaringBridge

When a friend or family member has a serious medical crisis, CaringBridge makes it easy to keep everyone updated on the situation without having to field a bunch of separate calls and emails from caring people – for free. I put a site up when my father-in-law was in the hospital this spring. Recently, he asked to understand more about what happened, and I was able to go to CaringBridge and print a slick book that included all of our updates and all our friends messages of hope for him. www.caringbridge.org

2. Insurance for iPhones

When my iPhone was stolen out of my car this past spring, I did some digging and discovered State Farm will insure iPhones! Now both our iPhones are ensured for loss or theft. Continue reading

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Filed under Career-Life Fit, Change, Recommendations, Remodeling Motherhood Tips, Time, Workplace and Employment

How Stereotypes About Warmth and Competence Impact Mothers

My friend Barbara was at a meeting of her fellow computer geeks. The speaker said to them all, “I’ll try to explain it so my mother could understand it.” It dawned on Barbara that she remembered others making similar remarks in her economics Ph.D. program, and then she said, “It was always clear to me that [the phrase] meant someone untrained, possibly stupid. This was the first time since I became a mom that I’d heard it. I felt kicked in the stomach.”

Barbara had run smack into a deep, common and largely subconscious stereotype  – namely that mothers aren’t very smart.

Why would that be?

A recent Harvard Magazine profile of social psychologist Amy Cuddy, The Psyche of the Automatic, highlights decades of research on automatic stereotypes and their impact on many different groups – including mothers and fathers – and explains what’s behind the “explain it so my mother could understand it” type of stereotype.

  • Warmth and competence are the two critical factors in how we perceive others.
  • It’s really hard to get people to perceive you as both warm AND competent. “People tend to see warmth and competence as inversely related. If there’s a surplus of one trait, they infer a deficit of the other.” (Cuddy quoted in a 2009 Harvard Business Review article, “Just Because I’m Nice, Don’t Assume I’m Dumb.”)
  • Others respond to you in distinctly different ways depending on how they perceive the warmth or competence of a group you belong to according to the grid below.

Continue reading

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Filed under Assumptions about Mothers, Career-Life Fit, Fatherhood, Motherhood, Remodeling Motherhood, stereotypes, Workplace and Employment

Remodeling Corporate Ladders to Lattices

Wandering the gargantuan exhibit hall at the California Women’s Conference in Long Beach ast week I noticed up ahead a sign for Deloitte. Wondering if anyone at the booth might know about the book Mass Career Customization, I dodged the crowd – including Al Roker – to get closer, only to recognize the author herself, Cathleen Benko chatting with a conference attendee.

As she finished her chat, I introduced myself to her colleagues and explained that I’d referenced Mass Career Customization extensively in my own book This is Not How I Thought It Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood to Get the Lives We Want Today even getting permission to include the graphic that illustrates the four dimensions along which a job can be customized.

In return, they generously gave me a copy of the new book The Corporate Lattice.

So when I had the chance to chat with Benko, I had a book for her to sign. She wrote:

“If we want to change the result, it’s time to change the model.” Continue reading

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Filed under Assumptions about Mothers, Book Review, Career-Life Fit, Workplace and Employment