For the 'Me Generation' it is no doubt a natural
ambition to become 'CEO of Me'. That's the title of am
insightful new book by Ellen Kossek and Brenda Lautsch. The
aim of the book is, as the subtitle says, to help their readers
create a life that works in the flexible job age.
This is a book
about work-life balance that moves beyond the usual prescriptions
for working more flexibly to dovetail work life situations.
CEO of Me recognises that flexible work is not in itself a
panacea for all work-life issues and conflicts.
Flexible work patterns are emerging in the context of other
far-reaching changes in the nature of work. New technologies,
new models of organisation, 24/7 operations, the long hours culture
and opening up to global markets - these all combine to make work an
altogether different "place" to be.
Work is no longer something that you leave behind at the factory
gates. Mobile communications are making it ever more difficult
to clock off at the end of the working day. Work now consists
largely of generating, shirting and processing increasing amounts of
information. And this information can follow us wherever we go
- both technologically and psychologically. More flexibility
can, if handled badly, increase the pressures as boundaries blur
between work and the rest of life.
Flexible working creates the possibility for us to bring all the
hassles and problems of work home with us. The authors call
this "the flexibility con". Here at Flexibility.co.uk,
we're a touch twitchy about this phrase, but take a collective deep
breath and move on to the substance of the matter! Because
this is where the book moves into more sophisticated territory,
recognising that people deal with this differently.
At the heart of the approach in this book is a process for
analysing your 'flexstyle', and seeing if it's the flexstyle that
you want. Then doing something about it if you need to.
In the terminology of Kossek and Lautsch, it's about whether you
are an Integrator, a Volleyer or a Separator. Do you integrate
home and work, separate it, or have bursts of integrating and
Within each of these three flexstyles, people tend to sink or
swim. So amongst Integrators, there are Fusion Lovers who love
it, and Reactors who struggle as they feel overwhelmed and out of
control. Amongst Separators, there are Firsters - who have
clear priorities about what comes first - and Captives, who feel
trapped in either career or family. Volleyers divide into
Quality Timers and Job Warriors. Again, it's the degrees of
control and satisfaction that make a difference.
Building on this framework, CEO of Me provides guidance
and exercise to help people make changes in their lives to suit
their particular flexstyle, and negotiate a new flexstyle and
lifestyle that is more on their own terms.
All this might create interesting issues for bosses who have to
run teams of people who are CEOs of Me. This might make
herding cats look easy. But this reinforces the message about
a) needing new styles of management (see
our article on
Management 2018), and b) the need for companies to address
work-life balance issues and flexible working strategically.
It's the worst of all worlds for a company to make a succession of
ad hoc arrangements to meet employees needs and aspirations.
CEO of Me provides a final chapter for managers to help them
address the issues and to change corporate culture. The
authors strongly advocate a practical approach and metrics to
evaluate the success of work-life balance initiatives, both in terms
of the employee's satisfaction and in terms of company performance.
As the authors say:
"The challenge centers on how to create workplaces that
welcome a variety of approaches to managing professional and
personal responsibilities. Such workplaces enable each
person to bring her best contributions to the table - whether
that table is in the corporate conference room or the family
Here at Flexibility, self-help and motivational books normally
bring on a Pavlovian reaction - shut them quick before the vacuity
under the gloss eats away any capacity to think coherently.
CEO of Me is a self-help book, but one underpinned by extensive
research by the authors, and offering a thoughtful analysis of, and
path through, the new world of work and its personal impacts.