For many years I worked as a banker in real estate. My clients were hugely successful commercial developers and/or residential mortgage groups. To make a good banking loan, you have to be focused on the property that is being financed. The property becomes the primary collateral for the loan. The borrower must work to maintain the value of that property as long as the loan is in force.
In real estate there are ever-present forces, almost gravity-like, that work to decay the property and erode its value as soon as it opens. Here are just a few of the chief concerns:
The weather beats down; sun, wind, cold, heat, rain, storms
Tenants/occupants can tear up the place
Natural wear and tear, so upkeep is required
Vandalism; people stealing equipment, fixtures, and trim
Managers face a constant struggle to improve communication within their work teams. Besides being able to accurately articulate any technical aspects about the work (every industry has its key phrases, terms, and buzz words), business leaders have to be ever-mindful of some very basic principles of effective communication.
We usually think about communication as a two part/two person transaction. You speak, I speak, we hear and we act. This is the way most adults perceive the process of communication. When we need to talk to our teams, we usually just think about crafting a message as though it is being addressed to one person.
When I was a kid, we actually played with the old tin cans connected by string. By pulling the string tight between the cans, you could use them as a low grade telephone to talk to your friends. The science was that sound waves which could be transmitted down the string to the other can. Simple, cheap, and very low tech. [Ok, so yes, I am dating myself]
Recently I was reading an article about a new technology start-up called Slack Technologies. The founder and CEO, Stewart Butterfield, was inspired by this tin can model to name the company. ‘Slack’ became the ‘backronym’ (Butterfield’s words) to name a technology that can improve team collaboration and communication. Since its inception, Slack has become widely used by over 90,000 companies as their internal platform for communication. The roll call of those companies is impressive; including NASA, Intuit, HBO, and Salesforce. (See FastCompany Dec.2015 edition)
Butterfield has stated that ‘slack’, as a commodity, is necessary to alleviate the tensions in the work world. Most of us run our business days pretty tightly extended from task to task. We need periods of slack to help unwind and rejuvenate. With the tin cans, letting the string go slack meant the sound could no longer travel.
I like this concept of creating slack in our busy lives. No one can run at full tension all of the time. We have to give ourselves some ‘slack’.
[shareable cite=”Doug Thorpe”]People looking for better work-life balance actually need some slack times. [/shareable]
All of my clients define slack in their own way. Some resort to physical activity like going to the gym or riding a mountain bike. Others rely upon meditation or yoga.
I suggest to you slack needs to include a good measure of absolute quiet time. Taking the moments to stop everything, release all of the tension in the string. Just let everything drop slack for a little bit of time. You can use the quiet to silently reflect, meditate, concentrate, pray, think, or whatever your mind may need. The idea is to allow time to let all of the pressures and tensions surrounding you go silent for a brief time.
Give yourself some slack. Make slack become a part of your day to better energize you for the times when you must be fully engaged and on task.
[reminder]Share your thoughts and comments on ways you build slack into the day.[/reminder]
Here are two stories to compare about work-life balance. Both people are young, aspiring adults who are facing the usual life challenges with work, family, and personal expectations.
The first person I will introduce is Kenneth (name changed to protect the innocent). He and his wife have decided that their definition of work-life balance includes a very strict workday for William; in the office at 8:00 and out at 5:00. If the boss has an issue or the last minute request, too bad.
“I’ve got to get home” is what William will say. “Weekend work is out of the question.”