Work less, do more

ClockHere’s a quote from the horrible book “You Can’t Win a Fight With Your Boss” by Tom Markert, the global chief marketing and client service officer at ACNielsen. Markert says:

You can forget lunch breaks. You can’t make money for a company while you’re eating lunch . . . if you don’t put in the hours, someone just as smart and clever as you will. Fact of life: the strong survive.

[If you ignore this] you might just end up as roadkill – lying dead by the side of the corporate highway as others drive right past you.
I have always made a habit of walking around early and late to personally see who’s pumping it out. If they are getting results and working harder than everyone else, I promote them.

Riiiiiight. Remind me never to go work for this guy!

Here’s how you do it instead, from a comment from Sarah S. on this post about implied overwork:

I began working at my organization about a month ago. During my first ‘get to know my staff’ meeting i informed everyone that i would prefer they work no more than 40 hours per week and that everyone take a full hour lunch. My staff was so used to working long hours that they would not leave on time.

We had a big meeting last week where i used another tip from this blog and asked everyone to write all their tasks on post-it notes and hang them according to a three-point scale 1-hate it 2- it is ok 3- love it! After rearranging tasks to be better suited for their career desires people were getting things done more quickly and leaving on time.

One of my employees still felt the need to work late every day, so i started going to her every day at 5pm and asking what she was working on and offering to stay late with her to help her. I sometimes offered to take the entire responsibility off her plate (in a non-judgemental way) to ensure she could get home a a decent hour and get re-energized for the next day.

The productivity of my team has sky-rocketed lately. People come in at 8am ready to work and excited to bring ideas to me. We all leave at 5pm now as often as possible (4 out of 5 days usually) and the rest of the office seems miffed that we can ‘get away with it’. However, with priorities realigned, people more energized about their work and people with more time to appreciate friends and family our work is reaching a higher caliber and output is actually increasing.
– Sarah S.

Yes!!! This is great stuff!!! I love it!!! Exclamation points!!!!!

I can’t say this enough: Work is not about maximizing your hours, it’s about maximizing your results, and sometims you get more results with fewer hours.

10 thoughts on “Work less, do more”

  1. Still on the meal subject. My father was telling me the other day about one of his friend’s companies, which is a very successful service provider for Caterpillar in Latin America, and they have an interesting practice on meals.

    The blue-collars arrive 2 hours early in the plant because they must have a healthy breakfast before they start working. No breakfast, no work. Simple as that.

    Results: production increase, quality improvements, employees are more motivated and more willing to cooperate with their leaders.

  2. Rodolpho: That sounds like a great practice, but I’m not sure I get it. Why don’t they have breakfast at home and why do they come in 2 hours early? Could you explain it a little more, please?

    Brian: And how is that working for them? Are employees happy, engaged, motivated and getting great results?

  3. Hi Alex!

    They can save a few bucks a day if they eat at the plant.

    I asked my father the same question about the “2 hours early”, it’s because they need to rest for a while before start working. As they operate laser cutting machines all day, nobody wants a sleepy Jedi knight with his light saber on walking around the assembley plant. :o)

  4. Oh gee, measuring performance instead of hours. That seems like a good idea!

    I love Paul Graham’s essay, “What Businesses Can Learn from Open Source”.
    http://www.paulgraham.com/opensource.html

    “To me the most demoralizing aspect of the traditional office is that you’re supposed to be there at certain times. There are usually a few people in a company who really have to, but the reason most employees work fixed hours is that the company can’t measure their productivity.

    The basic idea behind office hours is that if you can’t make people work, you can at least prevent them from having fun. If employees have to be in the building a certain number of hours a day, and are forbidden to do non-work things while there, then they must be working. In theory. In practice they spend a lot of their time in a no-man’s land, where they’re neither working nor having fun.”

    “The atmosphere of the average workplace is to productivity what flames painted on the side of a car are to speed. …”

  5. This is appalling. That obnoxious dick might be surprised how much anonymous monkey-wrenching is going on, and how many future whistleblowers are quietly saving incriminating information to the hard drive. Shit, I’m surprised he doesn’t have to hire someone to stand guard over his car just to keep the paintjob from getting keyed every day.

    I work in a hospital that has downsized staff to the point that it is an utter living hell to work there, and I can guarantee the deliberate waste and extra costs caused by disgruntled employees far outweighs what they think they’re saving from keeping the place understaffed. Just on the ward where I work, three orderlies (that I know of) *never* take time to put dirty linens in a hamper unless a nurse is watching. They just bury them in the trash and throw them away. And let me tell you, the linens that get thrown away from a single bed change cost more than paying for an extra body for an 8-hour shift. What’s really cool is to put all the linens in a big red biohazard bag so the hospital has to pay by the pound to have its own linens incinerated.

    Likewise, patients get a whole lot of free stuff because those three don’t take time to swipe the bar code and charge the item to the patient’s account.

    This is actually pretty constructive, considering so many of us are so disgruntled that the alternative is to gut-shoot everybody in the management suite and get on the six o’clock news.

  6. Rodolpho: Thanks. It seems there are some very interesting things going on in Brazil around happiness at work…

    disgruntled: Yeah, I think most managers consistently underestimate the cost of treating employees badly, because those costs stay hidden.

    Here’s an article that supports your story. From the article:
    Even model employees can become negative and unproductive if their bosses are rude or mean-spirited, according to a new University of Florida study.

    Gossiping, pilfering, backstabbing and long lunch breaks become the norm not just for workplace malcontents but even for exemplary employees who feel put down by their supervisors, said Timothy Judge, a UF management professor who led the research.

  7. Pingback: Work-life balance

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