You may be unflappable and on top of things at work – rushed meetings, unpleasant clients and the flurry of datelines are no problem at all.

At home though, things are haphazard; you’re too tired after work to lecture at your kids to pitch in with the housework. Sometimes, you get frustrated that you’re the only one cleaning up the house, even after that long day at work.

Does the situation sound all too familiar? This is common to most busy working women in Singapore, says therapist Cheng Chee Seng. He says: “Women have a clear distinction between work and home, so they are reluctant to use management techniques at home.”

Life and family: Use your work skills at home
Seven transferable skills from the office
to your home environment. Image: Corbis

There’s a great deal of good that can come from applying some of those career skills to your home life. We ask Singaporean experts Chee Seng and executive coach Wong Hsiao-Wei for tips on using career management practices savvily for that domestic bliss at home.

“Just as you block time off in your work calendar for important meetings, you can also allocate time in your home schedule where you can be undisturbed and fully in the moment with your family,” suggests Wong Hsiao-Wei, executive coach at MaDiff, a talent management company.

Your home is a mess but your office desk is pristine? Hsiao-Wei explains: “At work, we create logical groupings and make sure we label our files for easy retrieval. We also put things back as soon as we are done, in case our colleagues need them later.”

Hsiao-Wei says that “if you exercise the same diligence at home, you can save time because you don’t have to search all over the house for things you need. This is also a good habit to inculcate in young children as you will spend less time tidying up after them.”

Chee Seng adds that it’s important not to take on the organising all by yourself. “Let the family know you’re going to throw out the junk, listen to appeals like a good manager does, and then decide like a CEO would: Who will do the dumping? Who will organise the garage sale? How will you store the things you decide to keep?”

Delegation is a way of recognising potential and nurturing talent, says Chee Seng. “Assigning your children responsibilities is a great way to let them know that you trust them,” he advises. “And don’t forget Hubby – he needs to feel significant and empowered as well.”

Hsiao-Wei also cautions that blindly assigning a task may backfire. “Everyone likes the freedom to choose. People tend to be more committed and will complete a task more diligently if they choose it themselves, rather than being assigned to it.”

So instead of simply allocating chores, ask your kids to choose what they prefer to help out with. And just as you have job rotation at work, use the same principle at home, so a child doesn’t feel like he is stuck with an unpleasant task.

Companies recognise how important it is to make their staff feel valued, and focusing on staff morale plays a big part in employee engagement, motivation and retention. Similarly, Hsiao-Wei says it’s important to learn what makes each family member happy, as it could vary with each person. She says: “Even if your children haven’t reached their goal, recognise their effort and any improvements they’ve made, no matter how small. This will encourage them to do more.”

The concept of a work appraisal can be used to forge family togetherness and build resilience, says Chee Seng. “A performance review, when properly managed, is excellent feedback mechanism. But failures, real or perceived, can lead to team members feeling unmotivated.”

He suggests setting aside time where the family can voice grouses, and work on a common solution together. “A family, like a company, needs visions and goals – a common purpose. Listen to what everyone has to say, then set attainable goals together.”

You and your husband are like managers in a company. Both of you are a team with line functions over the ‘staff’ – your children, helper and even the grandparents. So never put down your spouse in front of the family, and where necessary, admit your mistakes or shortcomings to your team. When you demonstrate humility, you’ll be rewarded with loyalty.

Organisation leaders are increasingly urged to support their team in thinking more deeply, making connections and coming up with their own solutions, says Hsiao-Wei. “At home, instead of insisting on what you think the solution should be, ask what might work better,” adds Hsiao-Wei.

What might make sense to you might not make sense to another. If you try to force your way, you might not be met with full commitment. Then, if things fail, you might have to face a “I told you it wouldn’t work but you insisted!” response.

Cheng Chee Seng is the principal therapist at Life Transitions, a company which provides life coaching services. Life Transitions is located at 391B Orchard Road #23-01, Tower B, (S) 238874; tel: 6832 8022, email: Visit for more information.

Wong Hsiao-Wei is an executive coach at MaDiff, a talent management company. 11 Collyer Quay #14-08, The Arcade, Singapore 049317; email:; website:

This article was originally published in SimplyHer June 2011.