MBA Work-Life Balance – Meet With My Boss

Why should I meet with my boss?  I am accepted and my boss approved my company reimbursement for educational expenses.  That should be enough, right?  I think not.  In order to achieve work-life balance during MBA studies, this might be necessary to your program success.

You may recall from a previous post that one of your work-life challenges while enrolled in your MBA program is to maintain a level of engagement at work that does not reduce your career well-being.  Rath and Harter, in their book, Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements, point out that the Gallup Organization reports that the most disengaged group of workers are those who have a manager who is simply not paying attention to them.  If your manager ignores you, there is a 40% chance that you will be disengaged at work while there is only a 1% chance of being disengaged if your manager is focusing on your strengths.  An MBA program and an inattentive manager may be the formula for increasing your odds of being disengaged, which could damage your career well-being.  I think starting an MBA program provides a perfect opportunity for you to gain the attention of your boss and for you to become more engaged.  However, this will require some effort on your part.  In all likelihood, you will have to take the initiative and one of the ways of creating a positive work-life balance is to meet with your boss prior to your first class.

Possible objectives for this meeting include:

1)      Proactively manage the relationship between you and your boss to enhance work-life balance and career well-being.

2)      Demonstrate that while earning your MBA your performance will not change so career Well-being is not affected.

3)      Execute the first phase of the Personal Development Guide previously discussed.  [Link]

4)      Show that your participation in your MBA program will benefit your boss as well as your company to enhance career well-being.

5)      Engage your boss in your professional development to enhance work-life balance and career well-being.

6)      Get your bosses buy in to your participation in your MBA program.

7)      Establish a precedent for this type of discussion so, when there is a change in management, the discussion becomes a useful transition tool, and career well-being is not affected.

8)      Minimize the “out of sight, out of mind” impact of you participating in your MBA program.

9)      Become a more engaged employee and improve your career well-being.

I suggest the following draft meeting agenda as a starting point for developing your own agenda.

1)      Share the good news of being accepted into your MBA program.

2)      Express gratitude for support to this point and for funding support if appropriate.

3)      Share relevant information regarding your MBA program, some of which you gathered when you followed recommendations for gather information about your MBA program.

4)      Commit to maintaining or improving current level of performance while enrolled in your MBA program.

5)      Complete the Personal Learning Guide interview introduced in a previous post.

6)      Offer to share what you learn while attending your MBA program.

7)      Propose periodic update meetings.

8)      Ask if there are any concerns or questions.

9)      Summarize and close.

I understand that meeting with your boss is not an option for everyone.  If your boss views education and professional development as an employee benefit rather than an investment in people, then it may be difficult to have a productive meeting.  Alternatively, you may be planning to use the MBA as part of your company exit strategy.  You will have to judge and make the decision regarding a meetings affect on your work-life balance and, therefore, your career well-being.

Do you think meeting with the boss is a good suggestion and will have a positive impact on career well-being?  Did you plan to meet with your boss before the first class to ensure the proper work-life balance during your studies?  If not, why not?  Do you have any comments regarding the objectives or meeting agenda provided?  Please share your thoughts regarding meeting with your boss in the MBA in comments below.

In my next post, I will help you prepare to meet with you coworkers and direct reports so you can stay engaged with them while completing your MBA so you do not jeopardize your career well-being.


Rodney G. Alsup, D.B.A., CPA, CITP
Founder of

1 comment for “MBA Work-Life Balance – Meet With My Boss

  1. C Travis Maples
    July 19, 2010 at 9:04 am

    As a past MBA student where my employer was participating in the cost of the program (both from a financial and time perspective)I will tell you that an open dialog with your manager is important. I also believe that the higher your manager is in the company hierarchy the better the the cooperation between the student and the manager.

    If the student feels that his or her direct manager is supportive of their endeavors, the experience of obtaining an MBA probably will be more memorable. And the student’s grades will reflect their relationship with their manager – positively or negatively.

    The student needs to keep the purpose of the MBA always in perspective. When a point in the learning process appears applicable to their current job, the student should discuss it with their manager. If it is applicable the student and manager have the opportunity to make a real world use of some lesson learned in the program.

    Getting back to your blog, formalizing the process of regular meeting with his/her manager during the MBA is important.It shows initiative and it shows the manager that the student is appreciative of the company’s contribution, and has a desire to give something back.

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