Vivek Paranjpe, is a Senior HR professional with over 35 years of experience, ranging several leadership positions, in India and abroad. He leads his consulting practice since 2003 and presently works as a Strategic HR Advisor to Reliance Industries, and is also an independent Director on the Board of Motilal Oswal Financial Services Ltd. Prior to this, he was based at Singapore for several years where he was Director HR - Operations at Hewlett Packard for the Asia Pacific Region.
I am a working mother currently working with a small and growing organization. While I try to ensure that my home-front does not interfere with the demands of my workplace, there are many instances when I am faced with a constant dilemma whether I should attend to my son who is unwell or meet the deadline. Both are as crucial in their respective places but of course to me, my son is dearer and therefore, when essential, I am forced to overlook the urgency of my work deadline. While I have not been questioned in the past on such cases, I am afraid this might become a hindrance to my performance assessment and therefore future promotion. How should I address this situation so it does not become a problem in the future?
Looks like you are one of the many career-driven women who are faced with the classic dilemma of family vs. career. Not a very unique problem, however, the solutions can be multiple depending on the personal circumstances and the personal support system that may exist for various people.
While corporations will like to see more and more women in the workforce, they will also have to empathize with the unique needs of women. I will suggest that you must have a frank conversation with your boss. There are multiple possibilities depending on your personal circumstances, like moving into a part-time role for some years, requesting for a role that has less pressures of timeline, a hybrid of telecommuting and office-based work, sabbatical for a short time, finding a crèche facility near your workplace, using the family support system that may be available, etc. I am sure in any progressive organization, the management will empathize and come up with a creative solution that suits you best.
I am sure your husband also understands your dilemma. Between the two of you, you will have to make some compromises, adjustments and arrive at the right solution, wherein both of you pitch in to support the home needs while pursuing your respective careers.
Corporate life is full of timelines, work pressures and performance expectations, but while that is true, there always exist several possibilities. The most important thing for you to do is to ensure that between you and your management, as well as between you and your family, there exists the right understanding and an appropriate plan is evolved. Being transparent and open is always a good idea, since right expectations can be set. Children requiring lot of parental support is a short phase; in this phase, it is important to strike a balance between career and family needs.
To sum up
You are going through a problem which has multiple solutions. You need to explore, with your family and the boss, various possibilities and arrive at a right solution that is best suited to all the concerned parties.
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