I wrote an earlier post on this blog wishing that I could call a time out. I just came back from 12 days in Italy with my family. It was truly an amazing time. There was something that I witnessed while I was out there that piqued my interest. We were walking down the street in Florence and we saw many kids coming down the street, entering shops, and then the shops closing up. This was odd because it was 1:30 in the afternoon. On closer inspection, we saw two sets of times for each day in the shop windows. It read:
Aperto: 9 AM - 1:30 PM, 3:30 PM - 7:30 PM
We befriended a shopkeeper and asked about the hours. We learned from him that in Italy, the kids generally get out of school at 1:30. The parents will leave work and go home at 1:30 to have lunch as a family and then return afterwards. The family unit is extremely important to Italian culture. This is evident by watching them close their businesses to spend time with the family and then re-opening them later. I found this very interesting.
My first management job was managing restaurants. I remember being the only restaurant open on Thanksgiving. Corporate thought it would be a good idea and mandated that we be open. I had to schedule an entire staff to be there just in case people wanted to eat out. We had two tables all day. I looked around and saw how miserable my staff was. I thought then what we sacrifice for profit. I saw firsthand what appears to look good on paper can be devistating to your employees. When I speak in my seminars, I bring up the fact that we need to take care of our people. That your staff should be the most important thing to you and that achieving the right work/life balance is crucial. I then saw this principle taken up a notch in Italy. I think that they have it right.
We thanked the shopkeeper and let him get back to his family. I turned and then looked at mine. One of the greatest things I have done this year is take the time with them. Many of you know that I bring them with me as much as possible when I travel, but this time was different. This time it was just us. There were no schedules or meetings or things that needed to get done. Just us. Just my family. It was the time out that I needed.
Hope you had the time with your family as well during Thanksgiving. Remember, there is no day but today.