Knowing When And How to Blend Your Work And Personal Lives


KC Ifeanyi

September 26, 2014

When you think about your day, how do you divide the 24 hours?

For most people, there are the two big buckets of “work” and “play.” But as Elisa Steele, EVP of marketing and products at Jive, will tell you, knowing how and when to blend and separate the two is the key to building a stronger team and being more productive.

Isolating Your Team’s “Workstyle”

You may have a good sense of what your lifestyle is like, but what about your workstyle? Steele believes tapping into your team’s individual workstyles is where every leader should start.

Elisa Steele

“Your lifestyle is defined by the set of habits on how you live your life: You choose technology. You choose brands. You choose how you spend your Sundays. Workstyle is the same, it’s just the choices you make at work,” she says. “It’s the habits you have at work to do your very best and you tend to want to use that workstyle to be comfortable and confident in how you get your work done. So there are all different kinds of workstyles, which creates an amazing opportunity for diversity of ideas, interests, and collaborations. The sum of the diversity of people working together is the magic that happens inside of companies that are able to create the best teamwork and therefore the best business results.”

Find Your Purpose to Motivate Your Team

“We all know people, particularly millennials, are motivated by different things but they want to be part of something with a higher purpose–something you’re striving for that’s beyond selling your product that really helps the team feel like they’re accomplishing something meaningful,” Steele says. “The advice I would give to leaders is 1) what is that sense of purpose for your team? Make sure that sense of purpose is understood–it’s simple, it’s powerful, and it’s something people can sign up for.

And 2) Understand individual’s workstyles so you can use them as a competitive advantage to the way the team accomplishes the goal. Workstyles can be very different but when blended together there’s a competitive advantage for companies to be able to be more collaborative and communicative, and therefore more attached to your purpose and mission together as a team.”

There’s No Such Thing as “Work/Life” Balance

“I got the question all the time, ‘Elisa, how do you achieve work/life balance?’ and the question would make me nervous because I never had a great answer,” Steele says. “What I realized is I don’t believe in a work/life balance! To me, it’s just life. I’m a career-minded person, I have two children, I’m married, I care about other things in my community beyond work. The day I decided it wasn’t about work/life balance, it was just about life, I was able to truly be comfortable with how I make decisions on how I spend my time.”

It’s pouring those “work” and “personal life” buckets of time, once balanced on a scale, into just once container: It’s a case-by-case basis for prioritization that allows you to get what’s important to you done without feeling guilty you’re neglecting anything or anyone.

Steele mentions moments at Jive when her personal life trumped work (bringing her son his forgotten lunch) and vice-versa (opting out of a family trip to London for work). “It’s not just because I’m trying to make sure I take care of what’s important in the moment,” she says. “I want other people on my team to feel like I get it–I get it when things come up.”

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