Should Your Family Fire You?

This is going to be controversial, but here goes—you’re not that busy. 

I hear the phrase “if I can find the time” a lot. But the idea that time is going to miraculously appear is a fallacy. You have to be intentional about your time. Nowhere is this more important than in the planning of vacation time. Especially given Americans are using a week less of their earned time off than they were just 15 years ago. 

I understand it’s difficult to plan time off. In my household, we’ve got two kids, two careers, and too much on the calendar. But after my wakeup call about the moments I was missing in my children’s lives, I saw how important it was to make the time I always thought I could never find. And if I needed any more evidence, our study that focused on the relationships we have with our kids reinforced why taking vacation time to be with them matters so much (and why how much you spend matters so little). 

As a parent, the most alarming takeaway was the idea that we are actively creating the next generation of work martyrs. Six in seven kids say we parents bring our work stress home. Three-quarters of kids say we are unable to disconnect from the office when we are home. We are reinforcing that this disengaged behavior isn’t only acceptable, it’s the norm. 

I don’t need to tell you that spending time with your family is important. But I will tell you that, despite the importance of family, work is a more powerful influencer on how we spend time. It made me wonder what would happen if we received performance reviews at home the way we do at work. 

Even worse, if we did get reviewed at home, would our families have grounds to fire us? 

Drawing on MIT’s performance review, I created the evaluation below to see just that. It sparked such a critical conversation in my home about the things that we rarely give voice to. I hope you find it just as useful, and that it helps start a conversation in your own household.

Parent Performance Review

Scoring Model

5 = Exceptional: Performance is consistently superior and significantly exceeds position requirements.
4 = Highly Effective: Performance frequently exceeds position requirements. 
3 = Proficient: Performance consistently meets position requirements. 
2 = Inconsistent: Performance meets some, but not all position requirements. 
1 = Unsatisfactory: Performance consistently fails to meet minimum position requirements; employee lacks skills required or fails to utilize necessary skills. 

Performance Competencies 


  • Plans, organizes, and prioritizes workload so that s/he is present for quality family time.
  • Able to meet family attendance requirements and is willing to use vacation time to make them a priority (e.g., field trips, sporting events, recitals).
  • Delivers on promises made to family members. 
  • Proficient at improving work methods and procedures to be present for quality family time. 


  • Skilled at problem-solving and decision-making when it comes to family and work balance. 
  • Displays same fairness to family as s/he does to work colleagues.
  • Holds self accountable for family responsibilities with the same stringency as work responsibilities. 


  • Communicates effectively with family members about work requirements.
  • Understands the difference between a work emergency and a work need that can be addressed later. 
  • Gives timely and appropriate feedback when family plans must change as a result of true work emergencies.

Growth and Development 

  • Willingness to take on additional responsibilities (e.g., leading the planning of vacation time at the beginning of every year, taking an extra day or two off to explore somewhere new).
  • Spends quality time growing and developing children by exposing them to new experiences. 
  • Helps partner eliminate barriers to spending quality time as a family and identifies opportunities for partner to allocate unused vacation time. 


Standout Achievements 

Review the standout moments the family has had in the last year to see what they have in common and what principles of those moments can be repeated. 

Areas for Improvement 

Review parent’s lowest scores to determine areas for improvement. Consider what low score areas have in common to see if there are patterns that need to be reversed. 


Goals should be determined between the parent and his/her family. Sample goals are for illustration purposes only. 

  • Plan: Don’t let America’s Lost Week be your lost week. This year, pull out the calendar and challenge yourself to use that week for quality family time. From a day at a park or museum, to a week of camping or at the beach, make a plan for your unused vacation days.
  • Inspire: Create an idea file with your family of the things you want to do together. Each year, when you sit down to plan out your vacation time, look in the idea file for inspiration on what to do with your vacation days. No matter what you do, it will be 100% more exciting than letting them expire. 
  • Disconnect: When you have time together, disconnect as much as possible to create the conditions for quality family interactions. It’s not just the kids who can’t get off their phones. 

May 26, 2016