A New Family Tree…(An Outsider’s View).
I'm an outsider. I don’t have any personal experience with life in the big leagues, aka the corporate world. But, I DO have a perspective, an important one. I have been "married" to a global consulting firm going on 29 years. My husband has been with the same firm our entire marriage.
And as fate would have it, two of my four daughters have also found a home at the very same firm. You might think that after nearly three decades I would feel like I belong. But, I don't. I'm an outsider. This fact became even more clear to me during the pandemic.
My home became a satellite office. You all understand this. Six humans shared one home and one network. We all had to shift how we lived. Six laptops. Six schedules. Six pop-up work areas. Six lives uprooted and thrown together. Tensions were high as we all called dibs on the spaces with the best wi-fi. All six of us had to make sacrifices to allow this to work. Every. Last. One. Of. Us.
Organizations learned about this new work-home model. Many became attuned to what their employees needed, and provided them with the support they needed. From what I can tell, this firm did as well. There were happy hours abound, fun and funky competitions to boost morale, greater access to wellness programs, and more. Most of me was grateful that the much-needed support was trickling in...most of me. As the months went on, a growing part of me felt more and more left out. I was an integral part of the satellite office! Where was MY support?
Now, I'm not trying to be overly dramatic. There were a few Zoom functions where I could have tagged along, but those were few, and came very late in the game. And here's the point I want to stress… us outsiders want direct access! Let me say that again, us outsiders want direct access! IF there are resources available to me, it's up to my spouse to sift through the emails and other hubs of information and relay the information to me. Individuals are already pushed to their personal limits of what they can hold and manage. It doesn’t work well if they now have to manage company-sponsored resources for the families.
Organizations are overflowing with innovative solutions, compassionate and wise individuals, and connections. If shared, these resources can make a real difference in the lives of the families from where they get their best talent. In this time of unparalleled awakening, I want to plant a seed, a tree. I want a place on the organizational chart. What could we co-create if we started to think of the chart as a tree, an extended family tree? I want to be included in that tree. After all, us outsiders are the roots. We hold our loved ones firmly in place. We give them the nourishment they need to grow and reach for the sun. We might be unseen, but we are critical in order for the forest to thrive. It’s time to water us, we're parched.
Here's an idea fermented in my Baja brain (yes, I'm a guest at MEA’s Sabbatical Sessions right now). What if companies transferred their brilliance when it comes to CRM (Customer Relationship Management) to FRM (Family Relationship Management)? Just like the Marketing department optimizes its CRM to understand its various customer needs and deliver on those, couldn't an HR department do the same so that it addresses the family needs beyond the employee? This could include creating programs of mentorship for kids, video lectures from thought leaders, a best practices blog for parents, and family travel tips.
At a time when employers are in a competitive war for great talent and employees are making more and more decisions with their families in mind, this seems like a perfect innovation for some smart company to pursue as it recognizes that we're all in this together. And, that the roots of the tree is what makes the whole forest more healthy.
Lisa Kawalec is a Montessori educator turned coach, meditation instructor, and MEA alum. She is the founder of Relationshift Coaching, where she helps her clients make shift happen!