Work Is Like A Marriage



Yes, you are married to your work.
And why recognizing this matters!

During my first of several appearances on his show, Karl Wadensten, LEAN management expert, owner of Vibco in RI, and former host of The LEAN Nation radio talk show, quickly saw the benefits to thinking of the employer-employee relationship as a marriage.

Many of us speak of ‘being married’ to our work but only in as far as the amount of time and mental/physical energy spent doing it.

We overlook the fact that the basic principles of a good, even great marriage/relationship, are the same ones that we should be implementing on the job. So let’s look at some of the basics from the book, Improve Your Marriage – Don’t Overlook The Obvious morphed into the realm of the workplace!

#1 Know the best times and location for speaking with your boss regarding an important matter.
Just as your spouse will only half-listen, at best, when you decide to interrupt their watching of the football game, learn when and where you are most likely to get your boss’ attention. Remember to tailor the locale, so that you don’t complain about a co-worker within earshot of any other employee. (You never know who will spread your comments, around.)

#2 If coworkers no longer like to spend lunch time in your company realize that it is most likely because you are no longer fun to be around.
People spend their precious downtime around those whom they find enjoyable. So make yourself an interesting/fun mealtime companion.

#3 Avoid nagging. It accomplishes little and definitely destroys ‘the mood’.
Just as the spouse who constantly forgets to shut off a light does not change the behavior when you nag, realize that the sloppy coworker is not likely to suddenly ‘unclutter’ and clean their work area. Additionally, nagging is only going to result in bad moods. Who needs that atmosphere for the next 7 hours?!

#4 Remember key dates, such as anniversaries and birthdays.
Yes, most employees, including bosses, love it when their birthday or anniversary of a date of hire is recognized. And as with marriage milestones, make some sort of a fuss about special dates, such as their 10th year with the agency.

#5 Do not seek a 50-50 relationship with coworkers in terms of assigned projects.
Even though you each might share the same job title, realize that you each have special skills and different skill levels. As long as your talents are recognized and utilized it’s okay! Whomever is most qualified and available should be the one to perform the task.

#6 Incorporate staff ideas into action plans.
You would involve your spouse in decision-making at home. And, you would be certain to show them that their ideas matter. Well, it is no different in the workplace!

#7 Don’t allow employees to play you and another boss against one another.
If you are management, don’t allow employees to go to you in hopes of overriding their boss’ directives. Or overturn a request for time off. (You wouldn’t allow children to pit one parent against another.)

#8 Line staff picks up on management tension and disagreements.
Just as children sense conflict between their parents…

#9 Tell the truth to employees. They will respect you more.
Don’t hold back the info that there will be a funding cut. Or, that vacant positions will not be filled. As spouses expect to be kept in the loop when there are problems, your staff need you to trust them with relevant and vital information.

#10 Identifying the issue is only 1/2 the solution. The other 1/2 comes from action.
Spouses don’t want lip-service from their partner-in-life. And, your boss expects you to follow through when you agree to tackle a project.

I could go on and on. (In fact there are 500+ recommendations in the book).

But you get the picture! Start thinking of the job that you are ‘ married to’ as another special relationship in your life. Remember that work and interpersonal relationships are always in an ebb and flow state. So what guidance applies today, might not, tomorrow. (And vice-versa.)

‘Nuff said.

 Russell A. Irving is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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