Bringing Work-Life Issues to the Forefront
An interview with Paul Silverglate
As a Pioneer-Integrator business chemistry type, Paul Silverglate—Deloitte’s Strategic Relationship Management (SRM) leader for the West region and national managing partner for Work-Life—is a perfect fit for his two roles. Pioneer-Integrators thrive on new adventures that leverage their interpersonal skills. As an SRM leader, Paul develops strong relationships with clients and colleagues, helping them find solutions for their business and personal issues. As Deloitte’s Work-Life leader, he is tackling new territory by addressing complex work-life issues.
We sat down recently with Paul to learn more about how he integrates his own work and personal life, as well as what Deloitte is doing to address the changing work-life needs of our people.
Tell us a little bit about your career path.
I started at Deloitte & Touche LLP as an Audit intern in the Miami office in 1989 while studying accounting at the University of Florida. After I graduated, I was hired full-time in the Fort Lauderdale office. In 1992, I had the opportunity to move to Zurich, Switzerland on an international assignment. I spoke German and liked the Swiss-German culture, so I jumped at the chance to go. Then in 1994, I moved back to the U.S., but I relocated to the Silicon Valley Audit practice.
In 1999, our former regional managing partner was creating a group called the “Do It” group, which focused on developing relationships with non-audit clients. I joined the team and discovered that I found client relationship-building very empowering. This led me to pursue a new opportunity within the SRM practice. Even though SRM was a new area at the time, and it presented a foggier career path, I took a risk and left Audit to join SRM. Audit gave me a great foundation of understanding a complete company through its financial statements, but the part of the business that I liked most was developing relationships with clients and helping solve their business issues. I really thrived there and made partner in 2000. Currently, I’m the West leader of our SRM practice and a strategic client services partner for Technology, Media & Telecommunications.
In addition to being devoted to client service, I’m equally passionate about strengthening our inclusive culture at Deloitte. I’ve served in several roles within Inclusion: the first male national director of our Women's Initiative, the co-developer of Women as Buyers, and the national Diversity leader for Markets & Offerings. Then in September, 2012, I was appointed the managing partner for Work-Life, which is newer area of Inclusion and a big priority for Deloitte.
Speaking of ‘work-life,’ what do you like to do outside of work?
Spending time with my family is at the top of my list. I married my high school sweetheart, Jennifer, and we have two daughters, Hannah, 16, and Taryn, 14. Hannah dances, and Taryn plays competitive soccer, so I support them at their dance competitions and soccer games. I also enjoy cooking, road cycling, traveling, and going to the beach.
How do you manage to devote time to your family and hobbies and still have a successful career?
I look at it this way: You can subscribe either to the abundance theory – that the world is an abundant place and there are enough resources for everyone; or to the scarcity theory – that the world has limited resources, and for you to do better, someone has to do worse. My goal is to be the best husband, father, brother, partner, son, and friend that I can be. Those who subscribe to the scarcity theory would say it’s impossible to dedicate 100% of your time to all these things because that would add up to 600%. But being someone who believes in abundance, I focus on being in the moment. When I’m at work, I’m focused on my job, and it’s really gratifying to help my clients and colleagues be successful. When I’m home, I’m typically spending time with family and friends. Every time I travel, I leave a handwritten note for my wife and kids, and I make it a priority to take my daughters to school when I’m in town. I don’t log on and sit down at my computer or go in to the office many weekends. In my 23 years at Deloitte, I have gone in to the office roughly 30 weekend days.
That’s been my form of flexibility. When I get home, I don’t log on very often. I would rather stay late at work to finish up something rather than go home and finish it. It’s different for everyone, though, and we all need to find what works for us. You might be someone who values having dinner with your family and would rather go home earlier, and then get back online at 9 p.m.
What is the one small thing that makes a difference for you each week in helping you have more work-life satisfaction?
Being able to take my daughters to school each morning is something I really value, especially while they are at an age where they’ll still let me. If I’m not in town, texting them or calling them when I have a free moment helps me feel more connected.
I also feel really good about the people I’m working with and know that if I can’t attend a meeting, they can take my place, and I feel confident they will do a great job.
What is the biggest “aha” moment around work-life you’ve had since being appointed the managing partner?
There are two. One is that younger generations are placing a significant emphasis on flexibility. They’ll make career decisions around this and won’t choose organizations that don’t allow flexibility.
The next is around men placing an increasing value on flexibility. In a Families and Work Institute survey (National Study of the Changing Workforce, 2009), six out of 10 men in the U.S. said that flexibility is a top priority in their life. Men are more involved in raising their kids, and more women are working, so it’s critical to provide flexibility options that address both genders.
We know many people struggle with work-life fit. What is Deloitte doing to help our people better manage their unique needs?
We know this is an important issue that has many personal and business facets, and that there’s more we can do to improve upon it. That’s why my role was created, as the Work-Life managing partner, and why we’ve added new elements – Flexibility, Generations, and Well-Being – to our areas of focus for Inclusion.
We are committed to helping our talent thrive, offering a variety of options for our people to take a break, de-stress and providing flexibility around how, where, and when work gets done. Some examples of this include virtual work practices, sabbaticals, generous paid time off, family leave, and health and wellness programs.
But as I said, we know there’s more to do. So we are looking at approaches like “Small Things, Big Difference” to bring the flexibility dialogue to the forefront so it’s not a taboo topic. Teams identify small, actionable changes that positively impact each other’s work and life. This builds shared responsibility among the team for making this work and creates more predictable time off.
Also, to learn more about the work-life issues our people are facing as well as come up with a comprehensive set of solutions, we are doing a number of things: Internally, we are in the process of doing deep dives within the businesses to better understand their unique issues, and we are engaging our Gen Y Council to understand what’s important to them. Externally, we are looking to the marketplace to see what leading organizations and academic thought leaders are doing in this space.
What advice do you have for leaders around how to build flexibility into their teams?
First, join in the dialogue around flexibility and make your voice heard. Finding new solutions to address work-life needs is a business imperative, and it’s not going away.
Next, recognize there’s a symbiotic relationship between team-building, leadership, and flexibility. We’re a high-performance culture of overachievers who thrive on serving clients and are willing to work long hours. But our people also want flexibility options that make work more sustainable and predictable. For example, when your parents are coming to town you want to be able to say to them with confidence that you can meet them for dinner and not have to cancel at the last minute. Having that predictable time off is very empowering. To build this type of flexibility into a team, leaders need to have frequent check-ins with their people and encourage open dialogue. Then they need to come up with collective solutions that benefit the individual, the team, our clients, and our organization.
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