I once had the privilege of discussing with a senior colleague who complained that a particular member of his team lacks “commitment” towards the job. His main grievance was that the staff in question leaves the office as soon as its 5pm. “he will never stay even a little longer” he said with resentment written all over his face.
“stay a little longer to do what exactly?” I thought to myself
If they come to work in time, complete their task on or before deadline, why should they be expected to spend a second longer beyond the official working hours?
“If it were your own business” I asked him, “Will you be willing to pay your staff overtime for simply hanging around the office because you might need them later in the day to carry out an assignment for you?”
The expression on his face was enough to tell me he understood he wasn’t going to get any sympathy from me. “I think you need to manage your time and delegate task among your team more efficiently, so you won’t always feel like there is something left at the end of the day”
In my many interactions with managers and team leaders in organizations, I have come to realize that most managers have their unique definition of what “passion for the job” means.
Some managers measure their team passion by how much extra hours they put into their work or how long they spend within the company facility, even if it means loitering.
I do not disagree with the notion that passion often requires sacrifice which might require giving more of your time. What I struggle to understand is the stereotype that those who work late hours are more passionate about their job than those who don’t.
It’s like saying that a mechanic that spends longer time fixing your car is more efficient than the one that is able to detect and repair within a shorter time frame.
Working late could be a sign of inefficiency. This inefficiency could be a system (corporate) issue or people (manager) issue.
Some managers are unable to inspire their team to be efficient because, they have not been able to set a good example for their team.
When employees fail to prioritize their work or mismanages their time, the resultant effect is that such persons will have to work longer hours on weekdays or weekend to complete their task.
My dad told me a story about what going to school was like during his days. If your teacher asked you a question in class and you fail to answer correctly, the following will likely happen to you;
- You will not be allowed to go out and play with your peers during the lunch hour break
- If you still can’t solve the task after break hours, you will be made to stay back after school
- If after an hour or so, you still can’t figure out that answer; the teacher won’t wait forever. So, you will end up spending the evening in your teacher’s house doing his/her chores as your punishment for not being able to solve a quiz in class.
Unfortunately, a lot of employees are like that. Except that Management does not impose extra hour-with-no- pay threat on you, but because the consequence of not delivering on your task might cost you your job. Most employees simply take it upon themselves to stay back and catch-up on outstanding task while the efficient ones are already at home with their families or doing some other personally rewarding activities.
I don’t admire a man who spends all his time at work. I admire the man who spend as little time as possible and is able to get impressive results that meets the overall company goal.
I have often heard of managers that won’t let any member of their team leave after work hours, because of a weird unwritten rule that “you can’t leave the office while your boss is still working”.
Why should your team members not have a balanced work-life simply because you can’t manage your time and delegate task as at when due?
How does extended hours and the resultant overtime cost add to the profitability of the business?
If you walk into a restaurant to have a “good” meal, will you be willing to pay extra simply because the Chef took longer time preparing a meal you could get elsewhere in a shorter time?
Although there are exceptional situations that may require you to put in extra hours, most reasons are due to the following;
- Poor time management by both managers and team members
- Lack of delegation skills by managers or team leads
- Poor knowledge of the job or skill required to deliver by employees which often result to poorly delivered task over extended period of time
- Poor performance management system within the organization which doesn’t stimulate efficiency or innovation among employees
Another silent, yet influential reason is if the organizational reward system is not seen to be objective, most employees will resort to cheap and fraudulent ways of attracting management attention to their “hard work” as a way of being appraised for performance.
So, I ask again, “why exactly do you work late”?
Work Smart, Not Hard!