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National Association of Counties * Washington, D.C.      Vol. 34, No. 3 * February 11 , 2002

The H.R. Doctor Is In

The HR Spouse

Charlotte, for over 30 years, you have made the phrase “time to go home” at the end of a long day something to celebrate and to anticipate. Behind almost every successful elected or appointed official who cares about public service — and there are millions of us — stands a critically important personal off-work support system.

Often, the “system” is one person — the spouse, parent, significant other, good friend, etc., who offers a trusted, sympathetic retreat from the pressures, uncertainties, worries, and mistakes of a particular meeting, day, month or career.

Of course, most public administrators come home with cause to celebrate the success of the day, the positive difference made in a person’s life, or in the future of the community. These great joys of public service, ironically, also need a listening, informed and collaborative partner with whom to share.

Personal life and work life are richer when we can share them with others. The most successful people are the most involved and the most likely practitioners of civic engagement. They are involved in community charity work.

They have interests and hobbies beyond the borders of their job classifications. They may teach or play music. They are involved in sports or other hobbies.

What they all have in common is that they have interests that challenge varied parts of the anatomy, but principally the brain and the heart. This contributes to sustained mental and physical health.

In the HR Doctor’s experience, there is what physician’s would call a palpable difference between the observable performance and behavior of employees who have support systems in place and of those who don’t. The latter are often kind enough to share their personal attendance problems, financial difficulties, substance abuse struggles, etc. with their colleagues.

The intensity of whining is greatest in the immediate vicinity of these folks. Well supported people, on the other hand, recognize that there is more to life and more to be gained by constructive contribution than by a continuous search for the next chapter in the “Book of Excuses.”

The joys of family, of community and of supporting one another are full partners in overall life success, just as they are a necessary component of work success. There actually is much more to life than work.
Remember the HR Doctor’s maxim that when you die, your “in box” will still be full. The great irony is that those who understand this point about the work life — home life balance will be more successful in both domains.

So, as the HR Doctor looks back on his own career so far, it has been, and will, hopefully, continue to be full of constructive engagement at work, in the community and in the home.
Charlotte, thank you for being my partner and my shelter … my challenger and my sanctuary. You are truly the “wind beneath my memos.”

The HR Husband
Phil Rosenberg
The HR Doctor •