Life is full of compromises.
I certainly found that statement to be true while pursuing the Partner track at one of the “Big 4” firms. I had dreamt of becoming a partner at this firm and nothing was going to stop me, not even the family that I loved so much; I needed balance I would just have to find a way to make it work. I am the first to admit that I struggled with this. I am an overachiever through and through. I needed to be the best in everything, including the best mother possible. I juggled each of my daughter’s school events, family events, healthy meals and tax deadlines. Trying to keep my family life and work life separate, and in balance, was exhausting; I knew that eventually something would have to give, but I didn’t want that. I wanted it all.
After becoming both thoroughly exhausted and frustrated, I came to this conclusion: “integration” and not “balance” is the key. How was I going to integrate my work life and my family life? I had to evaluate my values and find a way to make it work. Is this something I could do at the “Big 4”? It was possible I could have, but the more I thought about it, the clearer it became. The best way to achieve my goals would be to start my own firm.
Mike and I had worked together for a number of years and were considered top professionals in our field, but we both knew that at the rate we were going, we would eventually burn out. Neither of us wanted that; we loved our work, but we also loved our families. We talked about the ideal firm, what the culture would be like, how it would run, and most importantly, what we as individuals wanted out of life. The more we talked about it the more real our dream firm became, and eventually we made the decision to embark on this endeavor together. Our goal was to create a firm that was known as a top firm, not only to our clients, but to our peers and team members as well. How would we accomplish this?
When Mike and I opened Encore Partners, we knew having the right team was of the utmost importance. Having an environment where team members felt valued, respected and empowered was not only important to us as people, but essential to our growth as a firm. In order to create this type of environment we would need to encourage and assist our staff with the integration of their personal lives and work lives.
Many have asked what I found to be a key factor in creating this type of environment; I can honestly say that technology has been essential in assisting our team with integrating their work and home lives. Providing them with top technology has allowed them to be efficient, and provides them with the flexibility to complete their work anywhere. While we still encourage office hours, we know that life happens both inside and outside of the standard office hours. Perhaps a parent is in the hospital, there is a school event to attend, you would like to coach your child’s t-ball team this season, maybe you would even like to join a sports team yourself, it could really be anything that life throws your way; what do you do? Do you continue to sit at your computer punching numbers while your mind wanders to where you feel you really need or want to be? A wandering mind can often times lead to errors and inefficiency. At Encore, we encourage our employees to do what they need to do so that they are able to maintain a high level of passion and productivity. Empowering our employees to take care of themselves and their families requires a trusting and team environment. Trust is the key; we trust our team to do the work that needs to be done and support others when the need arises, knowing in turn that their support will be reciprocated.
Fostering our company culture, where family and personal lives are respected and addressed along with work expectations, instead of in place of, is important to us and allows our employees to not only feel like they are getting their cake, but can eat it too. This feeling of belonging and empowerment translates into an environment where our employees are engaged and look toward the opportunities available for long-term growth within the firm. We invest in them and they, in turn, invest in us.
At Encore we want to make sure that our employees know that we support them not only within the office walls, but outside of them too. We know that they as individuals, and their families, will sacrifice time together during our busy season and want to acknowledge and thank them for their support. We do this by frequently hosting events that include our team’s family members.
So while there is always give and take in any relationship, be it at work or at home, we strive to help our employees have it all!
I hope this gives you some insight into who we are as a firm and what our values are. As we pursue the dream that started long ago, we will continue to evaluate our progress and innovatively adapt our company culture as our life model changes and grows, thus insuring the success of both our team and our firm.
If you would like to share a story highlighting how you have benefited from, or implemented integration in the work place I would love to hear it!
Best of luck in the pursuit of your dreams.
– Betty Garcia, Partner