Flex Success® Archives - Diversity & Flexibility Alliance

Achieving Flex Success®

In this article, our President & CEO, Manar Morales sums up her advice on achieving Flex Success®. It’s not too late to register for our Flex Success Institute, which provides detailed and personalized advice on successfully navigating your flexible schedule.

Over the years, I’ve counseled countless professionals on how to successfully transition to and manage a flexible schedule while maintaining a strong career path. While many professionals can’t imagine cutting back their hours in the office without jeopardizing their careers, I can attest that with the right strategies in place, anyone can achieve Flex Success®.

At the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance, we have developed our Seven Strategies for Flex Success® to help professionals working a flexible schedule to overcome challenges, seize opportunities and advance their careers.

Define What Success Means to You

The first step to ensuring that you will be successful while working a flexible schedule is to envision your future plans and define what success means to you. Take the time to clearly map out your one, three, and five-year vision for your personal life as well as your professional life. Include financial and professional development obstacles and needs, as well as personal goals.

Identify What Makes You Special

The second step is to identify what you bring to the table and then capitalize on it. It’s all about self-reflection and self-esteem. The best way to feel confident is to know your strengths and identify what makes you unique. By developing an area of expertise that’s in demand, you make yourself uniquely valuable to your firm or corporation, regardless of your schedule.

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Business Development Is Integral to Your Flex Success®

This is the sixth in a series of seven blog posts featuring advice on our Seven Strategies for Flex Success®. We’ve covered Defining Your SuccessOwning Your ValueActivating your Mindset and GritCreating Your Brand and Building Your Network.  Next it’s important to expand your business development efforts. To learn more about successfully navigating your flexible schedule and maximizing your career potential, register for our virtual Flex Success® Institute.

No matter what industry you’re in, it’s always a good idea to stay one step ahead of your business, your clients, your customers or your marketplace. You always want to be thinking about tomorrow and where your career is headed and where your income is coming from. While you might approach business development in a slightly different manner in light of your flexible schedule, it’s still imperative that you dedicate time to business development and to generating your future revenue.

The sixth strategy in our Seven Strategies for Flex Success® is Expand Your Business Development. Whether you’re working with clients or reporting to internal supervisors, make sure you’re demonstrating a deep understanding of their needs, business realities and serving as a trusted advisor to help them accomplish their current and future goals. To help you build future clients, projects and customers, you should turn to the network of colleagues, mentors, sponsors and former classmates that you built in the Fifth Strategy. This network can help you expand your reach and enhance your ideas on business development, key elements to creating more autonomy in your career and ultimately greater work-life control.

You may be concerned about investing time in business development when you’re working a reduced hours schedule and therefore already have less time for work. However, many professionals working a reduced hours schedule have told us that their flexible schedule has allowed them to excel at business development and, in fact, has become integral to their career success. It’s important to incorporate time into your flex schedule for business development as well as for activities that will raise your personal profile such as speaking engagements, publishing articles and papers and networking.

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It Takes a Village

This is the fifth in a series of seven blog posts featuring advice on our Seven Strategies for Flex Success®. We’ve covered Defining Your SuccessOwning Your Value, Activating your Mindset and Grit, Creating Your Brand and now it’s time to build your network. To learn more about successfully navigating your flexible schedule and maximizing your career potential, register for our virtual Flex Success® Institute.

Most successful corporations are led by a CEO who is advised and counseled by an experienced Board of Directors. As a professional working a flexible schedule, you should view yourself as the CEO of your own corporation, and you undoubtedly need a “Board of Directors” to support you. No matter how effective you are on your own, it’s critical that you surround yourself with a group of experienced people who can advise you, guide you, mentor you, and open doors for you.

Our fifth strategy for Flex Success® is “Build Your Networks and Personal Board of Advisors.” This personal board of advisors should consist of individuals from inside and outside of your organization. It should include both mentors who can give you advice, and sponsors who invest in and advocate for you. The internal perspectives can assist you in your career advancement and help you to address blind spots in your career path, especially those related to your flex schedule. Your external advisors can provide you with outside perspectives from an industry point of view and can help open doors to new opportunities, if necessary.
As you build your network and personal board of advisors, it’s important to keep in mind that you want to find people who you trust, who you respect, and who will be candid with you. These individuals should be open to constructive conversations about your career as well as the challenges and opportunities your flexible schedule might bring. It’s important to value and maintain your relationships with these mentors and advisors and make sure to meet with them on a regular basis.

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It’s All About Marketing

This is the fourth in a series of seven blog posts featuring advice on our Seven Strategies foFlex Success®. To learn more, register for our 2019 Flex Success® Institute, a five-part virtual professional development program for professionals working a flexible schedule. 

Seven Strategies For Flex SuccessIn Step Two of our Seven Strategies for Flex Success® you worked on Owning Your Value. You identified what makes you unique and what only you can bring to the table.   Knowing what makes you special gives you confidence and self-esteem. The fourth strategy revolves around harnessing this self-esteem and creating your personal brand. Just as a corporation would market a product, you need to market yourself to make sure others perceive you the way you want to be perceived.

There is power in perception.

As a professional working a flexible schedule, it’s particularly important to control how others see you to counteract flex stigma that others in your office may harbor.

Make sure that you are speaking positively about your schedule and your work. Remember that how you talk about yourself drives how others are talking about you. Ask for feedback about how people perceive you. In particular, ask your mentor or sponsor if others have a positive perception of you and your work and how you can improve your image. Your career trajectory not only depends on the quality of your work but also your reputation as someone who is serious about your own success and the success of the organization.

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Do You Have the Right Mindset to Overcome Flex Stigma?

This is the third in a series of seven blog posts featuring advice on our Seven Strategies for Flex Success®. We’ve covered Defining Your Success and Owning Your Value, now it’s time to activate your mindset and grit to overcome any flex bias you may encounter. Register for our online Flex Success® Institute to learn more detailed steps to successfully navigate your flexible schedule and maximize your career potential.

We’re not going to lie to you. It’s not always going to be easy to transition from being in the office full-time to a flexible work schedule. While many industries have come a long way in understanding the value flexible work policies provide, biases still exist. No matter where you work, you may come across co-workers who think you’re less committed to the job because you work reduced hours. You may also be faced with supervisors who question your time at home and whether you are actually working when you’re not physically in the office.

It’s best to be prepared for these obstacles, and when they do arise, it’s important to maintain your confidence and harness your grit. You know you are meeting the needs and deadlines of your team and/or clients. You know you are following your company’s flexible work policy guidelines as well as your own personal flex plan. And, you know the quality of your work has not diminished at all (in fact it may have improved.)

Most of these hurdles and biases should be temporary bumps in the road. Activate your “big-picture,” growth mindset and remind yourself that working flexibly is actually better for you and your organization because it’s helping ensure a longer, more steadfast relationship.

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What Do You Bring to the Table? It’s Time to Own Your Value

This is the second in a series of seven blog posts featuring advice on our Seven Strategies for Flex Success®. To learn more, register today for our 2019 Flex Success® Institute, a five-part, virtual professional development program for mid-level professionals working a flexible schedule. Program begins April 2, 2019.

In the first of the seven steps, you developed your definition of success by mapping out your one, three and five-year professional and personal goals. The second step in our Seven Strategies for Flex Success® involves truly understanding what you bring to the table and then capitalizing on it. It’s all about self-reflection and self-esteem.

Over the years we’ve asked professionals about their roads to flex success. “Even if you don’t feel confident, you have to exude confidence,” said one executive. The best way to feel confident is by knowing your strengths and identifying what makes you unique. It’s important to find ways to incorporate these assets and skills into everything you do. This is the value-add that will make you a go-to resource for your colleagues, supervisors and clients, and it’s the lever that provides you with greater choice, including flexibility in your schedule.

As one professional working flex advised:

“Differentiating yourself is critical if you’re hoping to take advantage of a flexible schedule. Once you earn the reputation as a hard worker who produces high quality work, people will want you on their team no matter what your schedule is.”

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The First Step to Ensuring Your Flex Success® – Define Your Success

This is the first of a series of seven blog posts featuring advice on our Seven Strategies for Flex Success®. To learn more, register today for our 2019 Flex Success® Institute, a five-part, virtual professional development program for mid-level professionals working a holistic flex or reduced hours schedule. Program begins April 2, 2019.

The first step to ensuring that you will be successful while working a flexible schedule is to define what success means to you.

seven-strategies-for-flex-successOnce you’ve decided that a flexible schedule is right for you, you need to be able to envision your future plans. As you define your successful, flexible career path you should clearly map out your one, three, and five-year vision. That vision should include what you want personally and professionally and how the two can mesh to define success on your own terms.

Once you are clear on your own goals you can begin to envision your long and short-term plans for your career, your lifestyle, and your family. You’ll also need to think through potential opportunities and obstacles and clearly map out financial and professional development needs. Do you want to be home with your children for an extended leave? Can you afford to work part-time? Do you want to take a sabbatical? Do you have childcare options? Your flexible work plan can then be mapped out to support your aspirations. You’ll be much better able to negotiate the needs of your employer once you have a clear sense of your personal needs.

Over the years we’ve asked countless professionals working flexible schedules about their initial planning stages. Here are some of their words of wisdom…

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Spotlight on Flex – Molly Senger

Our Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

For January 2019, we are pleased to share insights from Molly Senger, Of Counsel, Gibson Dunn (Washington, DC).

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made flexibility a priority and a success with your career? How has the firm supported this?

Molly Senger: I came to Gibson Dunn in 2011 as a third year associate after I completed a clerkship with the Honorable John D. Bates at the US District Court for the District of Columbia. I started full time, but after I had my son in January 2016, I came back from maternity leave to a 70% reduced hours schedule. The only formalized aspect of my flex schedule is my reduced hours target; what I’ve learned is you have to be flexible with your time and each day is different. I’m generally in the office every day, but my hours vary depending on what’s happening in the matters I’m working on at the time. I’ve had months in which I’ve had an arbitration and far exceeded full-time hours. But I’ve also had months in which my matters have been relatively quiet, and I’ve been able to take advantage of my flex schedule.

One thing I try to keep in mind with my flex schedule is something one of my mentors told me; “it’s unlikely you’ll find a perfect balance every day, but if you strive for it, you can find the balance you want over the long-term.” Once I started working flex, I made it a priority to be more comfortable saying “no.” I enjoy my work and give 110% to all my matters, and I want to say “yes” to a lot of things. But having been in the position of saying “yes” to too many things, I’ve learned to get over the guilt of saying “no” and figure out the right balance of what I can handle at work while also having time for family, friends, and everything else in life.

Thankfully, Gibson Dunn provides a supportive and easy learning environment for flex. I can change my reduced hours percentage at any time, and the firm does an annual true-up when I exceed my agreed-upon hours. More importantly, my colleagues and the partners I work with have helped me become more comfortable finding the right balance for me. When a partner comes to me with a new matter that I’d love to help with but I’m stretched too thin, I’m upfront about my reasons for saying “no.” I remind them to ask me again when the next new matter arises, and they do! Learning that partners understand and trust the reasons behind your “no” – and that they will come to you again – has made the process of saying “no” much easier.

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Spotlight on Flex – Lori Mihalich-Levin and Dr. Cindy Kelley

The Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

This month’s Spotlight on Flex features our 2018 Flex Success® Award Honorees, Lori Mihalich-Levin and her client, Dr. Cindy Kelley. The Flex Success® Award recognizes partners at Alliance member organizations who have achieved a high level of success while working a reduced hours schedule as well as a client who has been integral to making workplace flexibility so successful. We wanted our members to have the chance to get to know this year’s Honorees a little earlier, and we are looking forward to formally presenting their awards at our rescheduled Annual Conference on September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Lori focuses her practice on Medicare reimbursement counseling, with a special focus on Medicare graduate medical education (GME) payments to teaching hospitals. She represents academic medical centers, teaching hospitals, community hospitals, and health systems, as well as a broad array of other health care organizations.

Lori has worked a 60% reduced hours schedule while representing hospitals, academic medical centers, medical schools and health systems as a Partner in Dentons Healthcare Practice since August 2015 in Washington, DC. In just two years, she was able to bring in 20 new clients to the firm and build a premier practice around legal issues related to graduate medical education. Her reduced hours schedule has allowed her to care for her two small children, while also building Mindful Return, LLC, a personal business that assists new parents in their transition back to work from parental leave, and writing a book Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave. She is also the Chair of the firm’s Flexibility and Parental Leave Task Force, part of its Women LEAD initiative, where she champions the success of diverse attorneys and has been instrumental in updating the firm’s parental leave policies.

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Dentons Partner and Client Honored for Success While Working Flexible Schedule

Alliance to Present 2018 Flex Success® Award at Annual Conference March 21

Washington, DC – March 2, 2018 – Today the Diversity and Flexibility Alliance announced that its 2018 Flex Success® Award Honorees will be Lori Mihalich-Levin, Partner at Dentons in Washington, DC, and her client Dr. Cindy Kelley, Vice President of Medical Education at Summa Health. The award recognizes partners at Diversity & Flexibility Alliance member law firms who have achieved success while working a reduced hours schedule as well as a client who has been integral to making workplace flexibility so successful. The Award will be presented on March 21, 2018 at the Alliance’s annual conference, Diversity + Flexibility = Embracing Change, in Washington, DC. Registration is available here.

“Not only has Lori managed to reach high levels of career success while working a reduced hours schedule, but she is also truly passionate about helping to grow the pipeline of women leaders and supporting other working parents,” said Manar Morales, President and CEO of the Alliance. “With the support of her colleagues at Dentons and her clients, including Summa Health, Lori has grown her personal business and cared for her children while providing top-notch client service,” she added.

Lori Mihalich-Levin

Ms. Mihalich-Levin has worked a 60% reduced hours schedule while representing hospitals, academic medical centers, medical schools and health systems as a Partner in Dentons Healthcare Practice since August 2015. In just two years, she was able to bring in 20 new clients to the firm and build a premier practice around legal issues related to graduate medical education. Her reduced hours schedule has allowed her to care for her two small children, while also building Mindful Return, LLC, a personal business that assists new parents in their transition back to work from parental leave, and writing a book Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave. She is also the Chair of the firm’s Flexibility and Parental Leave Task Force, part of its Women LEAD initiative, where she champions the success of diverse attorneys and has been instrumental in updating the firm’s parental leave policies.

“Ultimately the key to a successful flexible work arrangement is to be flexible and transparent,” explained Ms. Mihalich-Levin. “I am so thankful for the trust, support and encouragement that Cindy has offered me as well as her willingness to accommodate my schedule,” she added referring to her client, Dr. Cindy Kelley, Vice President of Medical Education, Summa Health.

Dr. Cindy Kelley

“Lori and her Dentons team were critical to our success in overcoming significant challenges at our organization last year. I am so thankful for people like Lori who have a passion for finding that balance in life that allows them to pursue their careers while raising a family,“ stated Dr. Cindy Kelley. “Summa Health certainly benefited from this passion, as do all organizations that support workplace diversity and flexibility.”

“Dentons is committed to supporting our lawyers and professionals who work on a reduced hours or flexible schedule and applaud the effort of forward-thinking lawyers like Lori Mihalich-Levin,” said Mike McNamara, CEO of Dentons. “We also applaud our client Summa Health for embracing Lori’s flexible work arrangement. We firmly believe that flexibility results in positive changes that benefit the firm, the client, and our lawyers’ careers.”

The Diversity and Flexibility Alliance is a think tank that collaborates with organizations to develop non-stigmatized flexible work policies that promote inclusive work cultures for all and help to advance more women into leadership positions. The Alliance provides practical research-based solutions, training workshops, and strategic advisory services that increase organizational effectiveness through diversity and flexibility.

For more information contact:

Manar Morales

manar@dfalliance.com

202-957-9650