The Falsehood of Flexibility


The Falsehood of Flexibility

by Tricia Dege, Founder & CEO, Mom Mastermind

There’s a disconnect between employers and employees. The words working moms use to describe their challenges to me are different than the words they share with leaders. That presents a problem with understanding and resolving.

The language moms use is "flexibility". To the average ear that means flexible hours and flexible work arrangements, like availability to meet the school bus and remote work. Right?

But that isn't the full story. In fact, it's not even the major part of the story.

Here's a broader definition of flexibility:

Flexibility to be fully present - At home and at work, moms want to be their best. That means being productive in both arenas, prioritizing well and setting reasonable boundaries. Moms don't lack dedication, there's just a different reality. I remember phases as a consultant (before kids) where I did some pretty wackadoodle stuff to meet partner and client needs. That changes for moms. The ability to do that on the regular doesn't work.  

Flexibility to prioritize -  Sometimes being a mom must come first, given the circumstances of the day or the season of childhood. Moms want to be able to do their juggling without scrutiny or guilt. On the flip side, they don't want to be overlooked when it comes to contributions, projects or promotions. For me, finding a way to move up required putting different structures in place at home at the right time, it was worth it. Each journey is unique, and moms want the option to step up when opportunities arise.

Flexibility to develop - The most-offered development is often training. All good at some stages, but juggling career and motherhood is a very personal endeavor. Sometimes "How to Embrace Performance Reviews" and "How to Delegate Effectively" just don't cut it. I was constantly on the lookout for peers in similar life and career stages. Savvy employers are embracing the whole person and demonstrating value through personal and professional development opportunities.

Flexibility to pace themselves -  One of the major struggles I see is "context switching" (running from zoom to zoom to home, without a break). Yes, meetings drive collaboration. But there's a place for 20- and 50- minute meetings that allow a mental break. There also needs to be block time. Email, texts, and slack challenge the ability to do focused work. I had to work on preserving energy for the evening when my kids were little. Working moms need energy left at the end of the day for nurturing and fun, dinnertime and bedtime and a bit of self-care.

Flexibility in work arrangements - This classic definition of flexibility still holds true. Moms increasingly value flexibility in their work arrangements: remote work options, flexible hours and compressed work weeks. I was hybrid before that was a thing. It led to great loyalty to my employer for helping me lead the life I wanted. Solutions that support work-life balance have become crucial for attracting and retaining top talent.

There are great opportunities to step-up communication to value and support one another.

How can you deepen communication and understanding of "flexibility"?

If you want to hear more from Tricia, be sure to register for the upcoming Moms in MFG virtual event, taking place on Thursday, June 13, 2024. At Moms in MFG, you'll gain access to a wealth of valuable content tailored specifically to your needs as a mom or caregiver in manufacturing. Learn from experts, like Tricia, who understand the unique challenges you face and discover strategies to thrive both personally and professionally.

To sign up for our Moms in MFG virtual event, click here.

To visit the Mom Mastermind website click here.