Balancing the Grind With Ryan McKergow, Group Manager – Queensland at Elabor8

Ryan McKergow is the Group Manager for Queensland at management consultancy Elabor8, where he is responsible for the overall operations & growth of our Queensland office.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

So far, I’ve had a career of two halves. I started my career in IT working as a Business Analyst at Suncorp. After a few years, I decided to take a leap of faith in moving into consulting and moving interstate to join Elabor8, and it was the best decision.

Since then my career has accelerated consulting across several companies including SEEK, REA Group, UniSuper, and Monash University working in Agile environments and coaching them on their Agile Transformations. If you’re unfamiliar with Agile, check out what ANZ is doing with their “New Ways of Working (aka NWOW)”.

The second half was when I relocated back to Brisbane and Elabor8 gave me the opportunity to start up a new office. I basically landed in a leadership role overnight and had to learn many different skill sets like Business Development, Marketing, Operations, People Leadership, Recruitment, and Strategy on the fly.

In three years, we’ve been able to grow to a team of 20 and are working with many of Australia’s leading brands – Suncorp, CUA, and Origin. It’s been fun and challenging journey!

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

There’s elements that every day is different, but also some commons themes. You can bet that I’ll be either meeting with, phoning or emailing our current clients or potential clients. Having 1:1s with my team. And meeting with potential candidates to join our team.

Now that we’re into a new Quarter, we’re launching our Objectives & Key Results (OKRs) for the quarter. They’re a goal setting framework used by Google and Intel.

So my day’s including communicating what they are to my team, talking them through in 1:1s and ensuring everyone’s clear on what we’re hoping to achieve. This is in and amongst everything mentioned above!

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Absolutely, and it’s great! I’m very fortunate in my role as the Group Manager – Queensland that I’m able to define my hours and when I work from home.

I start early (around 7:30am) and finish early (around 3:30pm) so I can both beat the traffic, but also get home to my young family for dinner time and bed time. I generally WFH 1 day a week to avoid the commute and be able to spend more time with my family.

Recently, I was working from home 3 days per week in the lead up and after the birth of our 3rd daughter. This was very helpful to be around for my family.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

For me, it’s finding a balance that right for you. What that practically looks like for me, is strict office hours, so I’m able to be home with my family. My role does require travel from time to time, though I try to limit this to once a quarter around goal setting time. Also incorporating the flexible work hours and WFH definitely helps.

5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?

It’s been a mindset of when I’m in the office, I work hard during office hours, and then having a strict home time. I’ve found that I am more productive because of this as I don’t allow myself to think I can just put in extra hours to get things done.

I’ve also recently started practicing Gratitude on a daily basis. This has been fantastic as it frames my mindset for each day to be thankful for the people in my life, acknowledging small wins at work, or just appreciate the little things that have happened.

I keep a journal and write 3 things I’m grateful for each morning. I find I start each day positively and feeling happier!

6) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

I read Dare to Lead by Brene Brown and it was very timely for me. It came at a time when I was looking to mature as a leader and have more and more of those difficult conversations we know we should have, but often avoid. It’s helped me to be more confident in the day to day and lead my team more effectively.

I also re-read The One Minute Manager over the Christmas break, and I’m looking to incorporating the goal setting technique from this in how I’m communicate our OKRs to the team.

I’ve found champions for each Key Result, and using a One Pager to explain more of the background and intent of the Key Result. I’m hoping to helps us achieve our goals more effectively!

7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

Plan out each day! I heard a great quote on this recently: “For every 10 minutes you invest in planning, you save 1 hour in the execution.”

How I do this is I use the classic To-do list, though broken down into very small tasks. I find this makes it clear on what I need to do and because each task is small and achievable.

I have the To-Do broken down into sub sections like business development, people & recruitment, strategy, etc. so I can group similar activities together and do them all in one go. This definitely helps to be productive.

8) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Work is always going to demand more from us than what we’d like. For me, setting clear boundaries and incorporating a few techniques, it’s meant that I feel like I’ve found a health balance between work and spending time with my family, though I’m always looking to to improve.

On this note, I’ve set myself and our family a goal that we don’t use our phones between 5-7pm and on Saturdays. It’s early days, but I’m certainly appreciating being more present with the family.

If you’d like to have a conversation with us about how you balance the grind, get in touch with us!

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.