Staying human in a corporate world

Sally Wright, senior marketing director EMEA at Tektronix, tells Molly Raycraft why having a work/life balance is important and how you can achieve it.

When you’re a leader you hold a certain amount of responsibility for the success of your team. How can you stop yourself from succumbing to this pressure and spending all your time in the office?

Sally: To be successful in your work I believe you need to be happy in yourself. To be happy and healthy are critical success factors for my success and knowing my own personal balance between my ‘work’ time and ‘personal’ time has played a big part in that. I think as leaders we have an opportunity to lead by example and doing what you say is the first and most important rule.

What should you do if you’ve got too big a workload to handle?

Two important skills we should all adopt no matter what level you’re at is prioritisation and communication. You should make sure you don’t get overwhelmed by the tasks at hand and ensure that you communicate the impact of taking on more or less to your colleagues and your management teams. If people understand the trade-offs for adding more onto a plate then they can help you decide the best route. Oh and a top tip for marketers everywhere – think like sales. Under-promise and over-deliver. Often we do the opposite.

For you, what has been the most difficult part of trying to achieve a work/life balance?

I love my job and I love my personal time. I’m clear on the boundaries of both and make sure that I maximise both my working and personal time. It certainly hasn’t been without its challenges and I’ve had to make sacrifices at work and home through my career but I’ve always looked for finding alternative ways, so it doesn’t always have to be black and white. I’ve a few stories during my presentation about this.

Many people feel bad for taking time off or calling in sick. How can you counteract these feelings of guilt?

If you don’t have your health then you have nothing. It really is as simple as that. You need to look after your physical and mental wellbeing and that responsibility lies with you.  I always use all my holiday and encourage/insist my team do too. You can only be your best if you have the balance.

Do you think the working environment has changed in regards to work/life balance?

I’ve always been mobile in my approach to work, so for me not really. I know having worked in mobile for many years that many industries have seen a dramatic shift in this regard and I think this is only the start of the world of work. I once gave a talk to a chamber of commerce meeting about Dolly Parton needing a new theme tune! No more “Working 9-5”.

When interviewing at a company, how can you find out if the culture is the right fit for you? 

This is the million dollar question! And one I’m excited to share with people at the Ignite conference. Knowing you and trusting in your belief system is the golden rule when it comes to companies and cultural fit.

What are the benefits of staff having a proper work/life balance?

Happy and healthy staff are proven to be more successful for themselves and their companies.

Do you think you should check emails out of work time, or is this something to be avoided?

I never check my email on holiday and I will never send an email at the weekend. I’m not a doctor or a nurse. No one dies if I don’t respond to an email. Of course I’ve worked at the weekend when we have had an urgent deadline or a major event coming up, but this is the exception, not the norm.

How can you say no without losing your job?

Conversely, I think we should say yes more! Saying yes will always lead to more opportunities but it’s saying yes in a way that ensures people understand the trade-offs. Be clear on what you won’t be doing if you start doing that.

How and why should you celebrate failure as well as success?

It’s the only way you learn! It’s the way you develop. Good will always win over great! Oh and it makes for great dinner conversations and interview anecdotes!

Don't miss Sally speaking at B2B Ignite 2018

Sally's session 'Staying human in a corporate world' will be running at 10.35-11.05.

And don't miss our B2B Gurus stream for more tips to take back to the office.

B2B Ignite 2018