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Senior Executive candidates worry about pay, work/family balance
April 28, 2010 at 4:14 pm #99341
Meagan L. PriorParticipant
This article in Federal Computer Week on the reluctance of 14/15s to move up to SES positions came across my desk today and I thought it gave an interesting peek into senior level government employment. As someone on the insdustry side of government contracting, I found this interesting because I often find myself wondering if I want to eventually make the transition from industry to government. The idea of migrating the acquisition/contracting skills I've developed over the past ten years on the private sector into a role as a public servant is very appealling from a mission standpoint.
I was recently at an NCMA training with a woman who had made the opposite move, she was a federal Contracting Officer who had left government to take an industry role. In sharing the details of her move, she said her decision to jump the fence was certainly not for lack of opportunity within the government nor was it a salary issue, because both were available in spades. Rather, she felt that the demands placed upon her in upper Contracting Officer roles outstripped the rewards. Of course there are similar issues on both sides, particularly as you rise through the ranks, but it was a pretty wild concept for me that she was leaving government to go to industry for better work life balance!
Any thoughts on this?
April 28, 2010 at 4:28 pm #99345
You can read the survey for yourself from the Senior Executive Association here:
Hear Carol Bonosaro, President, Senior Executives Association discuss the issue on Federal News Radio 1500 AM:
It was also among the top stories in last week's Federal News Countdown
April 29, 2010 at 1:58 pm #99343
Before I became a Fed several months ago, I was a hi-pot in the procurement organization of a large automotive company, and I also did a 2-year stint supporting the procurement group from the HR side. My experience is that the higher up you go in any large organization, the worse your work-life balance becomes. Perhaps there are industries where that isn't true, but it's probably a lot less common than many blue collar folks think.
Ideally, your wages and benefits would increase as your responsibility becomes greater and/or your skills and abilitiles allow better and more efficient results. The belief that you must be tied to the job for more and more hours because you make a higher wage is sad... and all too common. When my senior manager was expected to work 80+ hours a week while earning 25% more than me (incl. wages AND benefits), I was making more per hour than him because I only averaged about 45 hours a week. Where's the incentive to move up the ladder?
The main reason I work is to provide for my family. Sure, I enjoy what I do and I'm good at it... but I certainly wouldn't choose to do it as a hobby! But providing for my family is more than just bringing home a fatty paycheck to acquire material things. As a husband and father, it's extremely important for me to provide love and support for my family, which means that I have to spend time with them. If a job takes away too much of that time, all the money in the world can't make up for it.
Personally, by far the best and most effective senior managers and executives I've ever worked for have fought to keep a good work-life balance, and they've insisted that their subordinates do the same. I believe that it gives you a much better perspective on life in general, and the broader your vision, the more likely you are to be an exceptional leader.
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