Back when I was in the corporate world the amount of hours you put in each day was often recognized as dedication and high performance. When in fact, it was really poor time management and organizational skills. Don’t get me wrong, some people who did ‘work the hours’ (whatever these hours were as an expectation I am unsure) were great performers but they also got sucked into the culture of working back to be ‘seen’.
Interestingly this culture seems to have spread into the SME market also. I find it fascinating that people will often wear ‘doing the hours’ as a badge of honour and commonly leaders expect it of their team. They get rather snooty if their team members aren’t doing the hours they are doing! Newsflash – they shouldn’t be. And if you are a business owner expecting this you’re in for a lot of disappointment.
Shift your focus from the hours that people are working to their level of output. This is a true indicator of how people are performing and can enable you to identify if you have a problem or not. I would suggest that a high percentage of people who are working enormous hours have problems with the following:
- Time management
- Planning and Prioritizing
- Understanding the bigger picture
- Over thinking and overcomplicating things; and
- Understanding your expectations.
If people are working huge hours and are continually overwhelmed there’s generally two reasons for this:
- You genuinely have more demand than manpower
- They aren’t being productive due to all of some of the bullet points above.
I also challenge you as the leader to assess your work ethic. Often we can get caught in a ‘habit’ of working huge hours because we think we should or we think it’s a great demonstration to our team that we are dedicated (who’s the role model?) or if we’re not doing long hours we’re not working hard.
Time to disrupt and break this cycle. Focus on productivity levels, engagement levels and outcomes. If people can meet your expectations and produce high quality work in a shorter amount of time enabling them to do what they love outside of work, then you’re going to have a happier team rather than those who are exhausted burning the midnight oil. All your doing is encouraging unsustainable habits. And yes, that is relevant to you too leader!