Energized: The McKinsey Method
In today’s society, free time is a scarce commodity. With business meetings, presentations, and conference calls, some days it seems as if there isn’t enough time to conquer every task at hand. Because of the numerous avenues individuals explore and maintain each day, burnout is not uncommon. The article, “More than work life balance, focus on your energy,” discusses tips on how to efficiently and effectively manage energy without spreading oneself too thin across various responsibilities. The author, Gila Tolub, agreed to share her unique insights on how her life has changed while adopting energy management and what tips can be most successful in fostering this lifestyle.
Gila Tolub is a partner in McKinsey’s Tel Aviv office. She is passionate about people, capability building, and leadership effectiveness. She supports her clients with transformations and works very closely with them to navigate their course of change. Outside of work, Gila can be found reading, cooking or discovering new places with her husband and their four children ages 15, 11, 6 and 6 months.
Q & A
Why did you decide to write about energy management?
One of my pharma clients was in the midst of a large digital transformation. It is a very large organization who placed a large bet on being ready for the future. I was having coffee with one of the BU leaders and in the conversation, she told me how worried she was about her team “burning-out”.
We started talking about energy management – and what role she could play as a leader to help her team.
Given these concerns about “burn-out” come up more and more often in conversations with clients, I thought it would be nice to have a short blog post about it – something that would be easy to read but would push people to go and learn more about managing energy.
What problems with energy management have you had in the past? How has managing your energy changed your life for the better?
At some point, I looked at my calendar and I felt like we were playing with my calendar as if it was a Tetris game. There was no blank space whatsoever! I also had the tendency to group together tasks by category – e.g., all my admin tasks such as expenses would be done on Friday afternoon.
And I discovered energy management – which provided a different way to think about my calendar. I try to balance my calendar, so I have activities that replenish my energy throughout the day.
Now, we all have different preferences when it comes to energy management. Some people like to be alone while others like to see people in order to replenish their energy. Everyone should first reflect on what works for them.
But in my case for example, if I know that I will have a long and draining meeting in the morning, I try to schedule lunch with a client or a colleague that I enjoy right afterwards – but if you are someone that needs time alone to recharge, you can plan to have lunch in the park with your favorite book.
I changed the settings on my outlook, so meetings are by default 25 or 55 minutes which builds in short breaks and I have put “blocks” on my calendar in the morning and in the afternoon to build in “thinking” and “in case of emergency” time slots.
During these breaks, I can go for a walk to the coffee machine and say hi to people who give me positive energy on the way! I can call my husband or WhatsApp my teenage daughter. And I resist the temptation to block a full day to do the more “boring” work that drains my energy; instead, I block short periods of time on different days.
Does it also help in your personal life? Any advice for women that are burning out too quickly in many areas of their life?
It helps even more in my personal life. I used to feel so guilty about how much time I spent at home and tried to fit in time here and there… but often, it was rushed, it was between calls. It was too mechanical. It wasn’t time truly enjoyable for me or for my children. I wasn’t fully present. And I felt drained from the time spent with them instead of “replenished”.
Along with my work on energy management, I started working on being more present. I made a conscious decision about when it was the best time to be with my children – for example, it was too hard for me to break away from work at the right time in the evening when my children were young and going to sleep very early. So I decided to spend more time with them in the morning. That was real quality time and we all started the day with lots of positive energy.
Some moms need to tuck in their children every night to feel good, and some are okay having a phone conversation. But the latter will need more vacation time with their kids. People have different ways of understanding balance in life. For some people it’s seeing their kids every day, for some over the course of the year it balances out. Both are fine! The most important thing is to really be aware of what is best for you and for your family.
Do you see clients successfully adopt ways to boost positive energy at Mckinsey?
More and more clients are using ice-breakers during seminars and day-long meetings to boost the energy of participants. I also see more posters reminding employees to take care of their mental health and I see more Yoga classes or mindfulness sessions being offered. Still, not enough people think about their energy level on a day-to-day basis. Simply asking yourself “how is my energy level?” 2-3 times a day would increase your self-awareness and remind you to get up, stretch or put on your favorite song… thereby increasing your positive energy.
Many people are now at home due to the COVID-19 virus, how has it impacted you? How has it changed your ability to lead and/or communicate with your global clients and teams at Mckinsey?
I have been at home with my children for about two weeks and I also work full time. My husband and I have to share the workload at home, but his workplace had to completely close because of the virus so he is taking on a bit more of the housework.
On a tactical level, it has been even more important for me to block the right times on my calendar and make time when I can be fully present for my team and my clients at certain times of the day and fully present for my children at other times. I have become more versed in how to use Slack and Zoom at work, and at home, we have had more time for board games and even completed a 1000-piece puzzle together.
I also had a zoom session with my parents, with all six of their children, and many of the grand-children and great grandchildren. Something we had never done before, although we live in 10+ cities on 3 different continents for many years. This situation has forced us to be more creative about connecting with each other!
On a broader level, it has shown all of us that what truly matters most is your health and your family’s well being.
And that fundamental humanity has made it even easier to connect with people. All the clients and colleagues that I reached out to have been happy to get on a call to catch up and discuss the situation. We are all in this together and we all understand each other at a deeper level.
Written By Kaley Lyons, Edited by Allyson Zucker & Alexander Fleiss
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