#415  from Innovative Leader Volume 8, Number 7          July 1999

FORUMófrom our readers

Family or Work?

Iím in my late 40ís and recently left a large company to join a small start-up with 40 employees.  The only person who is older than I am is the company president.  This is the most exciting job Iíve ever had.  The opportunities are tremendous, the challenges are great, and the level of creativity is higher than Iíve ever seen.

The problem Iím now facing is one that I didnít even imagine when I took the job.  Most of my colleagues have no children, and many arenít married.  I have a wife and three children.  Itís become a tradition (that is, a tradition over the five-year life of the company) where most of the employees go to a tavern after work and spend two to three hours continuing work discussions.  Many times they then migrate to a nearby restaurant, continuing the discussions.  This alcohol-lightened banter really is useful to the company.  During these gatherings, we become less serious, and sometimes come up with great ideas.  When the bar-group has a new idea that needs to be followed up, they make informal assignments of who should do what.

While I love my company and my job, I also love my family.  I would be cheating my wife and children by ďworkingĒ ten to eleven hours each day.  And thatís without travel time.  If I donít attend the tavern meetings, I miss out on the ďlatestĒ developments.  In most instances, the group (not maliciously) would not include me in the plum assignments.  Those present would volunteer for them.

Iíve discussed this with my wife, and we came to an agreement where I would attend just one of these tavern/dinner meetings each week. I also discussed my predicament with my coworkers, who were very understanding.  They decided that each evening, in rotation, one person was responsible for summarizing what was discussed.  That person would, the next morning, post the summary on the company email.  In this way, I and anyone else who missed the meeting could quickly catch up and still get involved (if we wished to) implementing, or modifying, a new idea.

This has worked very well.  The fact that my younger colleagues appreciated my situation has brought me even closer to the company.  You can bet that Iím going to do everything I can to make this company a huge success.  It deserves it!


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