more on: norms

Norms Around Time in the Workplace

+ Kari Kohn

Jody Greenstone Miller recently weighed in on the ongoing conversation between Sheryl Sandberg, Anne-Marie Slaughter, and others about women in the workplace. Miller makes an interesting call for a change in workplace norms. She wants firms to think differently about the time commitment required for senior level positions. To encourage this shift in norms (and hopefully capitalize on it) Miller recently founded a startup, Business Talent Group. Her firm places executives in consulting and project-based roles.  She writes:

It doesn’t have to be this way. A little organizational imagination bolstered by a commitment from the C-suite can point the path to a saner, more satisfying blend of the things that ambitious women want from work and life. It’s time that we put the clock at the heart of this debate.…It sounds simple, but the only thing that matters is quantifying the work that needs to get done and having the right set of resources in place to do it. Senior roles should actually be easier to reimagine in this way because highly paid people have the ability and, often, the desire to give up some income in order to work less.…Once work is quantified, it must be broken up into discrete parts to allow for varying time commitments. Instead of thinking in terms of broad functions like the head of marketing, finance, corporate development or sales, a firm needs to define key roles in terms of specific, measurable tasks.…The next step is to design internal roles in smaller bites, too. An experienced marketer for a pharma company could lead one major drug launch, for example, without having to oversee all drug launches. Instead of managing a portfolio with 10 products, a senior person could manage five. If a client-service executive working five days a week has a quota of 10 deals a month, then one who chooses to work three days a week has a quota of only six. Lower the quota but not the quality of the work or the executive’s seniority.
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