Balancing your work/personal life – and the power of personal scorecards

Is your work/personal life in balance?

Getting that ratio right is a big deal when you’re a busy owner.

It’s very easy, as the business owner, to get sucked into a vortex of running your business effectively where it takes up every minute of your waking day – at the detriment of your personal life, your relationships and even your health.

It’s an issue that’s relevant to most owner-managed businesses – and it’s incredibly easy to fall down the rabbit hole and (unlike Alice in Wonderland) to not come out the other side.

So how do you avoid falling down this rabbit hole?

Maintaining your quality of professional life

When you’re an owner-manager, it’s vital that you can maintain a positive ‘quality of professional life’ (QOPL).

If you’re keeping your professional life balanced effectively against your personal life then you’ll be happier, more fulfilled and (ultimately) a more effective leader. So making a determined effort to improve your QOPL is a big part of looking after yourself and your business.

One particularly effective way to control your QOPL is to use a personal scorecard.

The personal scorecard approach lets you set a series of questions relating to your personal wellbeing, which you then answer on a daily to determine how well you’re meeting your personal goals. Doing this daily will almost always ensure success at changing to our desired behavior.

This personal scorecard approach works well with managers and team members, but the most important place to start is with yourself – the CEO or business owner.

A personal scorecard keeps you focused on what’s important to you, instead of allowing you to be blown by the various winds and currents of your business. It helps you to stick true to your course and sail forward to your intended destination.

The items on your scorecard definitely don’t have to be focused on business matters. What’s important here is to pose questions that drive the right behavior and keep you on track with meeting those personal objectives.

For example, you could be asking the following kinds of question:

  • Have I pushed myself to find one morning every week to go for a run or do something healthy?
  • Have I done my best to take time out each day to spend quality time with my family?
  • Have I proactively managed my day so there’s enough free time to read a good book this week?

What you choose and prioritize will be unique to you and your personal goals and core values.

But the simple act of asking the question begins a process of measuring your performance on these personal goals, and proactively acting on your own advice and changing your behavior.

Passive vs active questions

When setting the questions for your personal scorecard, it’s imperative that you know the difference between passive and active questions.

An example of passive questions could be ‘Am I grateful for what I have?’ or ‘Have I been mindful of my choices today?’

A passive question allows you to get away with just answering ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to the question, with no accounting for anything else following that answer. You give an affirmative answer and move on.

An example of an active question could be ‘Did I do my best to be grateful for what I have?’. That’s not a straight yes/no question – there’s an element of quality to the answer you give.

If you’re a workaholic, asking the question ‘Did I do my best to plan some form of adventure or social activity outside work this week?’ won’t just get a yes/no answer – it requires deliberation, thought and review; and, ultimately, will push you to do better.

Asking yourself these active questions on a regular basis will trigger certain responses, certain changes in behavior and certain improvements in your QOPL score. In short, it makes you proactive about your own development.

The triggers are what move you from being passive about your progress against personal goals to being active – something that Marshall Goldsmith identified in his excellent book Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts, Becoming The Person You Want To Be.

Marshall Goldsmith really is the #1 personal coach in the US, if not in the world. He’s specialized for many years in this area of persona coaching and has helped countless people to improve their QOPL balance and find a better way of living and working.

If you feel like your work/life balance is uneven, I’d heartily recommend reading the Triggers book and picking up on the concepts he talks about.

Don’t just plan; make sure you also do

Human being are great planners, but human beings are also the worst at actually doing. We plan, but we don’t do the things we’ve put into our plans. And when you’re trying to improve your QOPL that can be a real problem.

That’s why you need a personal scorecard: something to keep you focused and a means to drive your motivation to be doing the right things and not just sitting around planning and theorizing.

It’s your ‘personal conscience’ that is always there, checking that you’re meeting your own standards and taking the right steps forward.

The power of personal scorecards for your team

The personal scorecard is an amazing driver for you as a business owner. But imagine the power of creating a business-driven version of the scorecard and giving this to your managers and team members.

Immediately, you take business planning and management from being a theoretical idea and make it into a clear, actionable set of drivers.

So, for example, a question you could ask one of your team members is ‘What kind of training do you think you need to do your job better?’ and to then add that training into their personal scorecard and development program.

Maybe you have a team member who is rather abrupt with colleagues and customers and where they need to work on improving that behavior. So, on their personal scorecard, you may have a question that says ‘Did you do your best to be polite and open, rather than abrupt, when dealing with people today?’

It pushes the right behaviors, allows you to monitor change over time and provides clear goals to the people on your team – all benefits that will ultimately profit their careers, their personal happiness and the long-term success of your team.

Start being proactive about your quality of life

The personal scorecard is an extremely effective tool in your business toolkit. By putting scorecards in place you and your team, you can help everyone to improve that all-important work/life balance and also lead by example by maintaining a positive QOPL as the business owner.

Our goal here at Holden Moss is always to look at owner-managed businesses in a holistic manner – looking at the personal goals of you, the owner, alongside the strategic and growth objectives of your company.

If you’d like to improve your work/life balance, please do come and talk to us and let us help you get your own personal scorecard in lace.

Contact your local Holden Moss office to arrange an appointment and begin your journey to a more fulfilling balance between your business and your personal life.

Written by

Steve Moss, CPA is a partner at Holden Moss CPAs and loves helping businesses and their owners grow to be the very best they can be. Our other offices include Raleigh, Oxford and Warrenton. We are a little different at Holden Moss CPAs. While we still provide traditional tax and accounting services, years ago we realized many clients wanted help in running their businesses and were hungry for ideas, solutions, strategy, and execution. In response, we expanded our skill set and joined Ran One, a global network of business consulting firms. Our membership with Ran One gives us access to proprietary resources and analytical software to help our clients grow, become more profitable and valuable, and have the lifestyle they desire. Now, blended into the fabric of our normal tax and accounting needs, we are focused on our clients’ businesses in a very different way. While our approach is not right for everyone, for those whom it is, incredible results may be obtained. Whether you have a new, or established, business, or for those in transition of selling or retiring, or for those who simply need to develop an exit strategy or succession plan, our unique approach to client service may be the edge you need.

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