Rodney Apple: [00:00:42] Welcome back to the Supply Chain Careers Leadership Series with Chris Gaffney. This is episode two. We’re gonna cover the importance of work life balance, Chris, would you want to give us a quick introduction and perhaps connect the previous episode because all of these episodes we’re doing on this leadership series, they interconnect.
Chris Gaffney: [00:01:05] Absolutely Rodney. And welcome back. We’re excited to do episode two. So I’ll remind people, we’re gonna try to do this in like four larger buckets and we may bounce back and forth in kind of subsections, but one will be how to work effectively and create the time and space for your own growth and development.
The second big bucket is really how do you differentiate in work as you go through your career? How do you stand out amongst the crowd? The third bucket is how do I grow? And the last bucket is, you know, where am I headed and how do I build a career path? In our first episode, we talked about how to be smart about making your next move and a couple key points where lots of people are contemplating moving to a new role and, or a new company.
Many people make those moves. And then our stats say half of them regret it because they weren’t thoughtful in the process. So really the case for having a methodical process to determine what’s next for you. And you know, that process is pretty easy and has worked for many, many folks.
So if you didn’t listen to that one I would go back and take a listen.
Mike Ogle: [00:02:23] So Chris, why is work life balance important to focus on at this point in the leadership series?
Chris Gaffney: [00:02:30] Yeah, Mike, I think it’s always been important, but the last two years have been a crucible for folks. A lot of folks went home for work and thought that would be easier and found that the boundaries kind of blurred and then other people in critical roles and kind of hands on environments were in extremely intense operating environments for the last couple years. It’s a good time to step back and help people as they may have dug themselves into a ditch over the last couple of years. So, I think that’s kind of the key motive and I hope we can offer people some timely thinking about this. It requires action. You can’t solve this without taking an action to move forward. And, I think perfection is not about perfection. It’s not possible necessarily, but how do you put a stake in the ground and how do you make some progress and track yourself and commit to a longer-term journey on this.
Rodney Apple: [00:03:29] Yeah, I’m guilty of this myself and my story with a recruiting business in supply chain. So not only am I hearing this daily from candidates and clients that are experiencing extreme stress more so now than probably ever before, for some of the reasons we just outlined, obviously disruptions all throughout the supply chain. No company, no industry seems to be safe from it. So, everybody’s fighting their external and internal battles, and as a result, I know with the demand for supply chain talent, we’re feeling that trickles down to us and individually too when you’re trying to keep up and solve your clients’ needs as fast as possible, cuz speed is always important when there’s challenges like this, people are turning over more so than ever before. Great resignation, and then personally, just trying to keep up with it all at, at work and on the home front I find myself working late at night. I’ll sit down and look at the clock and where did the day go? We’ve got a four and a seven year old, so that makes it even more challenging. And then we have this business Supply Chain Careers. It’s in post startup mode and we’re trying to provide as much value as possible. All of those things combined create stress and create long days. And, as best of my intention to get home for dinner every day, it oftentimes doesn’t happen. So I’ve been learning and listening mode. I’m looking forward to this, Chris and your wisdom and advice. And I know our audience will appreciate this well, it’s very timely. Mike, what about you? You’re juggling a lot too in your world in academia?
Mike Ogle: [00:05:15] Well, I did a little bit, so take on a full time job on the academic side, but thankfully it’s not the earlier stage, back in the papers and grants rush and learning new classes and trying to learn how the whole thing works. But as you go through these transitions, you just tend to put more things in your bucket. You just get trained to do that over time. It’s always important to be able to understand where you came from and I am now an empty nester. The kids have gone through college for instance, and have started jobs. Now I focus on the kids that that I’m teaching, but then we got the bright idea being able to develop the Supply Chain Careers business as well. But I think this is part of the reason why we went through this process because of our perspectives and things that we’ve seen and why this series really ended up resonating with us when Chris had talked about the idea of establishing this, cause I think it’s always good to think back to the perspectives of where you came from. And then what kind of perspective you’ve been able to add over time? I mean my own personal story. I ended up coming from a family that was kind of old school hierarchy and discipline. Work extremely hard. Don’t ever complain about your hours, you know, suck it up, make it work. Eventually you’ll be able to get off the hamster wheel. But that was a very valuable baseline, I think to be able to understand the perspective of work life balance, but wow. You know, dad worked all day. It was the traditional family. Mom stayed at home, took care of the kids. So you’d see him now and then.
I’ve learned over the years when I’ve been working with for instance at a supply chain association, or two of them for over a period of about 17 years. I got to have dinners and drinks and such, and a lot of stories and conversations with so many different successful professionals in the industry. But you would tend to find out that there were many of them that were just, you know, oh my God, it’s tearing me apart and I’m traveling all the time and I, I can’t keep up. And you hear horror stories about things that happen with their families and even their professional life when they don’t end up having that kind of balance.
So to me, the ones that seemed to be that next level of success were the stories where they had their happiness and passion was being taken care of. They had great stories to tell about their families, things that they did to unwind, how they made time in their lives hobbies, what they were reading. You’d hear those kinds of things from them and less about, oh, well, I’ve changed to my fourth position because it just wasn’t really working out at the other place that I was at. You know, they try to get out of those burnout like experiences and, and be able to move on. So when I got into being able to hire and manage people, then that really changed my personal viewpoint. It was almost like putting in it a time bank, they were free to be able to ask for a little bit of balance back in their lives. So that’s kind of the perspective that I’ve had and learned over time.
Rodney Apple: [00:08:48] Yeah, the struggle is real. So Chris, we’re looking forward to you sharing your wisdom. I know you’ve coached and mentored people over the years, back to our time at Coca-Cola where you spent a lot of years in supply chain leadership roles, and I’m sure our audience is anxious to hear how they can solve this problem that more people find themselves in than not.
Chris Gaffney: [00:09:09] I definitely had my own kind of motivation. Just as you guys have talked about as early in my career did jump on the hamster wheel Mike, right after grad school. My wife and I got married right after school had four kids in six years and that the race was on. And I feel like my first 4 6, 8 years of my career just went by like a flash. And I found myself in that mode. And I literally remember early in my Coke career driving home on a Friday night and then saying to myself, you know, I could have just stayed at work and slept at work tonight and worked all weekend and I still wouldn’t have been caught up and here I am trying to go home and switch gears and, and be a good partner. And frankly, engage with my rapidly growing kids. So, I started early on in the ad hoc way, trying to say, how do I approach this? And, you know, and I did it in an informal way, early in my career. That was helpful. I stepped back and I said, what matters to me? My wife and I talked about it and said, there may be trade offs here, but I just don’t think going through your entire life like this makes sense. Like you, Mike, I watched my father do the same thing. And in the long run, I think there were regrets there and I kind of took an early bold move and went to my boss at the time, and I said, I’m gonna try to do this in a different way. We had people who gave back vacation. I said, I’m always gonna take my vacation. I’m gonna respect holidays because my family matters to me, but I’m gonna commit to do my work and deliver results. And that was a big gamble. But, I was fortunate that most of my bosses were supportive of that. So kind of that’s how I dove into this space.
Mike Ogle: [00:11:16] Chris, now that we’ve established that value of work-life balance, and that perspective, how does someone actually get started on the process?
Chris Gaffney: [00:11:25] Yep. It’s a great question, Mike. And like I said, I was taking risks trying to kind of do this on my own. And I came in contact with a book that I was like, I’ve been looking for this because this is really the secret sauce. And so, I’m gonna give a free plug to this book called Total Leadership. And actually, when I worked at CCE and John Brock was the CEO, he had the entire leadership team read the book. And in those days, you got given a lot of business books and many went on the shelf. But when I looked at this book and you can buy it on eBay for $3 and 96 cents used, I checked this morning. So, it’s not a huge investment, but it’s a Wharton professor. I think his name is Friedman and he did this from kind of a research based, focused, and the cool thing was the case is that if you focus on the aspects of your life outside of work and get them in balance, you will actually be a more productive employee.
So you can make the case to your employer, that I will give you more if you will support me in this journey of getting balance across my life. So, that was a really cool thing for me that I could grab that and, and kind of add some structure to something I’d been struggling with, frankly, five to 10 years in my career.
Rodney Apple: [00:12:57] Chris, as you talk about this book and your learnings, what are some of the common barriers that people face when they try to put this process or practice into place? I can imagine what they are, cuz I feel like I’m struggling myself, but I’d love to hear some of those common pain points.
Chris Gaffney: [00:13:18] Yeah. I think some of the common barriers are, what is my boss gonna think, right? Am I going to be in a place where I’m gonna be perceived as somebody who is less willing to commit or has lower aspirations. I think that’s a big one. The second one is if there’re not other people trying to solve this riddle, you may say, I don’t have good role models or I’m not in a culture where I’m gonna be, you know, supported as I try to do this. And, I may also be at what I consider to be a key place in my career, and I’m trying to deliver significant results. I’m trying to get to that next big level.
And so, if I’m in the midst of this firefight, how do I dig out with everything else that I’ve got going on? Those are the biggest barriers that are out there. And there may also be harder ones where you say, am I ultimately in an environment that’s not gonna allow this, that really may beg larger questions of saying, do I need to get to a, a different environment? So that may be go back to podcast one. I think those are some of the common things that I think people struggle with when they’re starting to say, I want to do something different in this work life balance space.
Mike Ogle: [00:14:42] Sounds like we’ve established a lot of the why and some of the pieces of the work life assessment, but Chris, how do you approach it as an overall assessment process?
Chris Gaffney: [00:14:51] Yep. I think the first thing Mike is the process says separate your life into four buckets. So, number one is, is you, it’s your yourself, right? Number two is your relationships, right? So, it’s your home if you will, if you’re in a partnership, you’re married, got kids, et cetera. The third bucket is community. And that’s everything else. It can be you’re in the community orchestra. It could be your church. It could be all kinds of things. What are you doing to try to make the world better? And then the last bucket is work. And so the process basically says where you trying to get out of all of those four buckets. So that’s really the starting point for the process is to kind of look at your life in those four different quadrants.
Mike Ogle: [00:15:47] And when you look at those four and three of them are not work where most people start their work lives and think, well, my work is 99%.
Chris Gaffney: [00:15:58] Yeah. I mean, I think the essence of the process is, and I think back to the premise is if you are not balanced in those other three, you’re showing up to work with all kinds of things that are barriers to you doing your best at work. Okay. If you didn’t do the dishes or you didn’t help the kids with the homework, that’s in the back of your mind as you’re coming into the office and it’s limiting your focus. So, the whole approach says, how do I define success in those other quadrants? And it is definitely an individual process. We used to talk to employees about this and we said, it’s work life balance, as you define it. And this process is really about you defining what harmony looks like in those other areas, actions to be able to achieve that. And then you can show up to work and be ready to deliver distinctive results.
Rodney Apple: [00:16:59] So Chris, what do you recommend? Like what’s step one. I mean, obviously you should take a deep dive into these four quadrants and kind of document what’s working, what’s not, what are the gaps? How do you take it to the next level? What are the keys to success here in terms of step by step process?
Chris Gaffney: [00:17:21] I like the process. I followed it in various degrees of rigor, but the first step is always stepping back and they’ll say the first thing is to kind of be real and kind of step back and say, authentically who am I? And so it actually is a bit of a self-reflection. The process is gonna ask you to kind of step back and say, where did I come from? Just like Mike reflected what the environment you grew up in, what lessons were you taught as a child and in home and in school, early in life, that kind of framed your own motivation when you show up for work.
I think the second piece is your vision for your own leadership. Like what do I aspire to show up as in my role as an individual contributor, team leader, whatever, what do I really want that to look like? I think a bit of inventory on your core values that I think says what really matters to me, because balance means there are trade-offs, right? And we get into the classic discussion around how do you make everything work? There are choices you are gonna have to do fewer things. I recall early in this, when I talked about myself at a time I was running and playing tennis and believe it or not, one of my first big learnings after I reflected on this was taking physical care of myself was important, but there wasn’t enough time for me to do tennis and running and believe it or not, I put the tennis racket away 18 or 20 years ago and I started running, but my values guided me in that decision. So I think that whole first step is really just an inventory of what really matters to you, because I think that’s gonna guide how you prioritize the few things that matter in each of those quadrants. So that’s step one.
With that kind of reflection of what matters for you then I think you have to then look at how, how do you be a whole person, right? How do you then act with integrity? And I think that’s where you have to say, what expectations do people have of me. And then, what expectations do I have of others? And the book says stakeholders, but at work, it can be your team. It can be your boss at home. It can be your wife, it can be your kids, other, other, frankly, people in your network. And then, how do you see your life? As kind of a, a system or a set of things that you can change and influence, and then thinking about how are you going to go about a communication process on this?
As I said, I sat down with my wife, we talked about it. I sat down with my boss and we talked about it and I ultimately talked to my team about it. And this goes back to one of the things I said of one of the barriers was cultural barriers. And so, part of what I learned in this section was I went public with this, right. I made a commitment to my boss that I will always deliver on results. If you will be supportive of me trying this, I went to my team and I said, I know you struggle with this. If I’m gonna lead you well, I have to try to do this. Right. Which means I’m not gonna bother you on the weekend. If you have your own version of this, I wanna find out how I support it, but it also meant I had to get better at things like delegating to them, setting them up where they could take more on amongst everything else that they had going on. I will also say I went public with the big goals I had. I told people that one of my goals was, and I did this in a lot of my informal speaking. I told people I’m gonna try to run 25 miles a week. I’m gonna try to be home for dinner three nights a week during the week, not every night, but I was gonna try to be home at a normal dinner hour, three nights a week. And I think I said, I’m gonna be committed and deliver well on one external nonprofit board commitment. So I went public with that and I asked people to track me against it. So I think that’s the second step is putting it out there that you’re gonna try to make improvements in this space.
Rodney Apple: [00:21:52] Good. That’s great stuff, Chris. And it sounds like if you need help in this area, I’m raising my hand, accountability partner, maybe even more than one, you know right now my wife is that person, but I probably need to step out and engage others along the same lines, and hold me accountable. You know, you say you’re gonna do these things. You’re gonna make changes, cuz it’s easier said than done. Right?
Chris Gaffney: [00:22:20] You got it. And I think that’s really the third step in this is this requires some creativity and it requires some innovation. For me, I recall when I had one of my kids who started, is in middle school, was doing some sports and where they went to school was not close to work. That was one of the creative things that I said to my boss was you are gonna see me leave on Thursday afternoon at three o’clock. And it was the early days of cell phones. I’m not sure we were perfect on hands free, but I said, I’m gonna drive to where this ball game will be. And I may be on calls up to the moment that the game kicks off, but then I’m gonna go focus on the game. And after the game, I’m gonna take my son to dinner on the way home, but I will be back on after the kids go to bed and I’ll clear the deck on anything that needs to get done.
I think creativity comes in a variety of ways. I think for me, this requires some planning. I think we’ll talk in another episode about personal productivity. Had to get super disciplined on making best use of my time at work. So I might not have been informally socializing as much at work. I might have been much more disciplined on use of my calendar so that I created the time and space to be able to do some of these other things. And as I said, then you just gotta get in the pool with it and try things and adjust. Right. And, for me, once I got out there with this other people came up to me and said, I’m trying this, or I need to try this. You started to create a bit of a mutual aid society that can start to make a difference because there’s so many people who are wishing they could do this. They’re looking for a sign of hope and you, in your own journey may end up being that sign of hope for, for somebody else.
Rodney Apple: [00:24:24] Well, would you say Chris, I struggle with this myself is saying, no. I want to help, aim to please. And that’s where I get tripped up a little bit is just trying to aim to please everyone. You can’t do it, but you try. And sometimes just knowing when to say no is half the battle and can put you in a better place from a productivity, but also getting that balance.
Chris Gaffney: [00:24:50] Yep. I’m famous for that as well. And I think a good lesson I learned, and I will always say everything we talk about in the podcast series has been borrowed from somebody. I’m a classic borrower, but I read a few years ago that many times you’ll take a commitment and then it’ll be on your calendar and you will be dreading it for the next two weeks and say, why did I say yes to this? And the lesson was before you make that commitment, use your gut feel and say, will I be regretting that I made this commitment and take some of those hard nos and that no may be, not never, but it might be not now. And whether it’s in work, outside of work or whatever, it’s like, you know what, I can’t be the coach this season. I’m happy to be the score keeper at the game, but I can’t make a commitment to come to practices. And so, I think it’s like a lot of things you’ve gotta try and, and it may be liberating to say, I’ve gotta be ready to say no to one thing, which means I’ve gotta be clear that for this year, I’m saying yes to these other things and then I draw the line. So I think that’s how I’ve tried to start addressing that challenge, Rodney, cuz I think a lot of us are in that boat as well.
Rodney Apple: [00:26:11] Yeah, that’s a great point. And it’s kind of like the key advice they give you in financing it’s invest first, right. And put what you can aside. Every paycheck. So you don’t even see it. You don’t think about it. Then keep enough to pay your bills. This is the same logic and principle, invest your time into these areas that are important, these four quadrants and then make sure you leave that time to get the crucial work done, say no, delegate and all those things make it a priority.
Mike Ogle: [00:26:52] It’s like the budget, the same as your time capacity. So what’s your time budget? What’s your life budget and where are you going to spend it? And do you really have it when you wanna make any kind of commitment?
Chris Gaffney: [00:27:05] Yeah. I have an employee who worked for me at Coke who I still keep in close contact with. The key to all of this is the quadrant that’s you. And this is where I go back to defining it for yourself. But I think in this day and age, we invest so much physical and emotional energy in work that I think one of the things that has to be an anchor, this is you defining how you take care of yourself. And you could take that wherever you want to go. But our reality is life is a journey. It’s a marathon, all of those kind of things, but, you gotta get up and show up every day. So how do you have the physical and mental energy to do that, and make that back to protecting your sleep. It may be, what do you have to do to be physically active? What do you have to do to be healthy and what you eat and all that stuff. But I think that that has to be the anchor for this. If you’re gonna be in for the long game, taking care of you is critical to your family. It’s critical to your employers. You can’t be a great player on any team if you can’t show up for the game. I really think that deserves to be called out.
Rodney Apple: [00:28:27] Absolutely. So from your experience with personally implementing this, you’ve also coached obviously others on how to do this both at work and folks you’ve mentored. But what kind of progress have you seen, have you seen people make mistakes? Where do they typically get off track and how do you course correct?
Chris Gaffney: [00:28:49] Yep. I think that’s the fourth step, that the book says reflect and grow. The employee that I mentioned, he struggled with his personal health, the entire time we worked. And the last year he put his foot down and he said, I’m gonna prioritize me. And when we had his development plan, conversations, was a great performer. I said, all I care about is you taking care of you and you define what that means. And he put his foot in the ground and he made some radical life changes. And I’m super excited to see him do that because I care more about him as an individual than anything he does at work.
I have plenty of success stories, but the reality is everybody stumbles on this, right? The essence of a program like this says you are gonna have to do a step back, whether it’s part of an annual step back. In some cases, it can be more frequent if you’ve had a difficult season in a year. But I think that’s when you step back and you say, how am I doing in those quadrants from my view. How am I doing in the eyes of my stakeholders, step back and say, go back to my original inventory of what’s important and then reset. Right? And again, in some of these quadrants, it’s like we’re trying to accomplish one or two or three things, nothing more. It can’t be more than three. And if it has to be two or one, then you go back and you start over again. But I think if the essence of it is this is gonna have to be a journey of stumbles and stands and that’s okay. That’s how the process works.
Mike Ogle: [00:30:23] And Chris, if you have a team full of people that you’re managing and trying to understand how to introduce this process to the team, is there a good way to go about that?
Chris Gaffney: [00:30:36] Yeah, and it ties to kind of the whole world we live in today. I realized strategically, I always wanted to have the best people on my team and so those were high aspiration people. Those were people who had lots of opportunities and my thought process was how do I compete for their services. I always viewed that, they didn’t have to work for me. And so, my view on how I competed for their service was, number one, I was always committed to their growth in development. Number two, I was always committed to them having balance in life. And, as I said to a lot of those people, I never want work to be any higher than the third priority on your list. You can pick what one and two are, but work better be at least number three, and no higher, because if you get your priorities in that place, I think you’ll give me the best work. You’ll feel great about being on this team. And we’ll be committed to you first. And then I never had any trouble selling people on that because they were all in that boat. And this is where I may have been, counterculture. I worked at Coke for 25 years. This worked at Coke for 25 years. So, it was a bit of a science experiment. I’d be confident that most of the folks on my team knew that I stood for this. And we tried hard to give them that space. You had that empathy, Mike, that we talked about is when you had kids like Rodney, where you are with those young kids. And I did listen to those lessons from those senior people who said, I missed birthdays. I missed dance recitals. I missed key events. And the regrets of that will last forever. And that’s where you get the energy to be bold enough to say, I’m going to take a risk in how I might be perceived at work, and I’m going to protect critical events in my family’s life or my commitments outside of work. And I’m gonna commit that I will still deliver results. And I think that selling process with teams worked and heck, most of my bosses were in the same boat either. So in some cases it could be a role model for the person you work for, as you’re trying to demonstrate how this can work.
Rodney Apple: [00:33:01] And Chris, we know that unfortunately, not everyone thinks or leads the same way that you do. Obviously you have that amazing reputation from our time at Coke, that legacy, if you will. What if you find that your boss, your leader is not being supportive to this and they’re being too demanding. And I think a lot of people are in that boat, especially with the world we’re in now and supply chain disruptions everywhere. If you have any advice for how to go back to your leader and stress the importance and get them to meet you at least somewhere in the middle.
Chris Gaffney: [00:33:42] Yep. And, and this is an easy one. The long term answer I’ll come back to. I think the short-term answer is people got bills to pay and they may say I’m not comfortable that if I have this conversation it might put my job at risk. So I think you’ve gotta be pragmatic if your situation is really something where it’s not viable. And I think at that point, you’ve gotta talk about what you can control. Okay. Which may be narrowing down your aspirations in these other areas. And it may be back to how do you really drive your own personal productivity so that you can create the space to deliver on your commitments.
Where you don’t have the overall support for this. I think that’s where you go. And I think part of the longer-term piece is if this is not a culture that’s ever going to be there, then I think you have to start that longer-term process to say, how do I methodically prepare myself to get to a different place that’s a safe process for me and my family.
Rodney Apple: [00:34:47] Great advice. And for our audience, that’s listening now, I think the most important thing is to start step one, right. And put the plan in place. I am committing to doing it. Maybe we could check in on these people a few next future episodes and see how I’m doing, but I’m definitely making that commitment. And this has been very valuable for me personally. And hopefully it is for our audience as well.
Chris, where are we going next? I know we’re trying to tie all these and connect the dots cause they all are important. For leadership, it’s not just people leadership. It’s yourself. Obviously, the work life balance reflecting where you want to be at the height of your career and reverse engineering the steps like we talked about in episode one, but what do you have on deck for the audience?
Chris Gaffney: [00:35:37] I think we’ve got an interesting one next time. We’re gonna dig into the overall concept of self-awareness, and how do you find the blind spots in your own life? There used to be those cars that said objects in the rear view mirror are closer than they appear, but if you didn’t have those rear view mirrors, you couldn’t see that blind spot on that left quarter panel behind you. You need help to see those blind spots, and in many cases, I know myself and I know many other folks went through a lot of their career before they realized that they were doing a lot of damage along the way without realizing it. And I think we’ll have some fun times talking about how I came to some very humbling realizations to that. So we’re gonna dig into how do you become open to feedback? How do you start soliciting that feedback and how do you get to a place where you can be self-aware in the moment and course correct in real time like we’ve always talked about how do you use your network so that you’ve got resources to constantly make you aware of that. And how do you use that to grow and lead with humility? So, this should be a good one as well.
Mike Ogle: [00:36:54] Excellent. Thank you, Chris.