Zero-drag concept can't get off the ground

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In that world, the zero-drag worker had neither family, possessions, commitments or social life that would pull them away from the job at hand.

The rationale was that the technology was changing the world so fast that having access to your workers 24/7 put your company in the best position toget ahead.

It proved to be a careless and short-lived phenomenon.

People don't live for their employers, nor should they.

Now, a new study contends that having a family life or extensive social connections outside the job actually is good for an employee.

"There appears to be the common perception that having a family interferes with your work performance," says Marian Ruderman of the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, N.C. "Our study shows for the first time that being a committed parent can improve a manager's work performance. Parents learn skills that help them not just in parenting, but in their work as well."

Those skills include such things as negotiating, compromising, conflict resolution and multi-tasking. Ruderman and study co-authors Laura Graves of Clark University and Patricia Ohlott of the OMG Center for Collaborative Learning draw the conclusion that having a family-focused manager may be best for any company.

In their study of 346 managers, they found that the work performance of parents, spouses or committed partners actually was rated higher by their bosses and peers than other people.

"We believe that the family experience creates positive emotions that make you feel good, and that carries over to the workplace," Ruderman says.

Yet having a family isn't the only way to create these positive emotions. Anyone worker who maintains a healthy social life is as well positioned to excel on the job as those from family units.

Ruderman say this is tantamount to not putting all your emotional eggs in the same basket.

"It doesn't really matter what is is," Ruderman says. "It's just having something in your life that you are committed to beyond the job. You could be a dedicated marathon runner or an antique collector. It helps.

"At the same time, those people who don't have anything else in their lives are not performing as well."

Maybe this is just another way to look at the old-fashioned notion of work-life balance. That concept has accumulated baggage through the years, almost as if you are cheating your employer by wanting a life.

But what company really needs or wants zero-drag workers in the first place. Common sense tells us that was a bad idea from the start.

© Copley News Service

Clark University


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