Balancing act: Readers speak out on coaching, late hours, summertime

Published: Monday, June 11 2012 1:00 p.m. MDT

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The Green Snakes finished their season last week, capping a two-month period of some of the best T-ball I've ever seen.

As I mentioned in a column a few weeks ago, their season also marked my first experience coaching one of my children in a team sport, and it couldn't have been a better experience. From listening to them choose their team name — which I loved — to watching them progress during the course of the year, I enjoyed every minute of the experience.

I also received some interesting responses to that earlier column, in which I compared coaching a T-ball team to managing a team in an office environment. As such, I thought I'd dip into the virtual mailbag this week and share some recent reader comments.

One reader, Matt, wrote that my piece on coaching summarized some of his own feelings on the matter.

"I 'got roped' into coaching my oldest son 15 years ago through a very similar circumstance as yours and loved it," Matt wrote. "Since then I have gone 15 beautiful years coaching him and the rest of my kids in all of the major (and some minor) sports, on my own volition. It has been an extremely rich and rewarding experience, for which I have even been given several volunteer and community awards and accolades — all surprises, but nice side effects to the real prize — time, development and nurturing with your child and other kids."

Matt wrote that he also has had a successful career in business/operations over the last 25 years and has seen many similarities between coaching and managing.

"There are some very real, meaningful and rewarding lessons that come from coaching and mentoring kids and how it relates to teamwork and life," he wrote. "It takes some organization and patience, but I love it."

I agree, Matt, and that idea pertains to coaching in any capacity. Even if you're talking about work in an office, if you show that patience and organization, it can be something you love.

Several readers continued to send in responses to columns on work/life balance and, specifically, its relation to whether one leaves the office at a "normal" time or stays late.

One, commenting online, wrote about a boss who complained in a staff meeting that employees weren't working hard enough.

"He cited an example of someone in another group that he felt was a hard worker because he was always working on Saturday when the boss came in," this reader wrote. "He was quite embarrassed when someone in our group pointed out that that individual was there on Saturdays working on his dissertation."

What a great story! Another reader pointed out a different potential problem of expecting people to work lots of overtime.

"I have been a software engineer for 18 years," this reader wrote. "Working overtime in the software industry is grossly overrated. Just recently, a team member that I work with was told by a supervisor to get his assigned tasks done two weeks early to show dedication to the management. So the worker put in a lot of late nights and overtime.

"He finished on schedule all right, but a month later, his work did not hold up to high standards, and much of what he did during his marathon of overtime had to be redone. It took several weeks to redo his work (I ended up being the one who had to redo his work). In the end, it would have been far more productive to not have done all the extra overtime and instead produce a quality solution, even if it would have taken a few days longer.

"This is just one example of dozens I could give about how overtime can backfire. This nonsense needs to stop."

Yes, it does. I'd still be interested in additional thoughts on this topic. I think it's a discussion that's worth continuing.

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