Multiple Simultaneous Partial Presence or Mostly Absent? Happiness at Work
Constant Multi-Tasking and Zombie Executives
I increasingly see this in my coaching practice working with highly successful but highly stressed senior business people.
They are trying to leverage technology so that they can operate simultaneously in several locations. For example, they try to spend time with their kids while checking e-mail or having “quick” business negotiations on the phone while driving… I find that from one day to the next they often forget the details of what they said and what they committed themselves to.
These people are living zombie-like lives in which they move forward, sometimes with devastatingly killer intentions, but they aren’t fully alive. They seem to be driven and controlled by an external force that often contradicts their heartfelt desires – to be loving and supportive with close relatives, to make a genuinely positive difference in the world, to enjoy themselves and to stretch and grow their abilities and talents.
Many of these themes are echoed in a recent article in the Harvard Business Review: Why Some Men Pretend to Work 80-Hour Weeks
A few excerpts:
…many professional jobs, expectations that one be an “ideal worker”—fully devoted to and available for the job, with no personal responsibilities or interests that interfere with this commitment to work—are widespread. We often think of problems with these expectations as women’s problems. But men too may struggle with them.
..They complained to me of children crying when they missed their soccer games, of poor health and substance addictions caused by how they worked, and of a general sense of feeling “overworked and underfamilied.”
…(Some men were) transparent about their difficulties, and asked the firm for help in pulling back. Their efforts resulted in harsh penalties and marginalization.
… While women, particularly mothers, were expected to have trouble with these expectations, and the firm offered women many types of formal accommodations such as part-time work or internal roles, generally, the firm expected that men were willing and able to comply with its demands that they be ideal workers.
Topics: Happiness at work, workplace stress, multi-tasking