05 Oct “I Want My Staff To Think That I Work Constantly”

busy busy busyRecently, I had the opportunity to attend a leadership retreat in Austin, Texas. The participants included a number of passionate professionals from all over the world. Over the course of the 2-day event, we engaged in thought-provoking roundtable discussions. We also enjoyed some outside the box activities, such as hatch tossing, archery, and a cocktail contest. On the bus ride back to the airport, I felt energized and ready to take action.

After I passed security and arrived at my gate, I fired up my laptop to type up and prioritize my memorable notes. Because I forgot my headphones, I overheard a conversation between a couple of business travelers. One of the gentlemen said, “I work 7am until 7pm every day, and then send auto-emails between 4am-6am. They don’t think that I ever leave. I want my staff to think that I work constantly.”

Reality Check: If this sounds familiar, you’re not fooling anyone. Your employees know what you’re up to.

Have you ever been in this type of culture? Are you in this type of situation right now? Worse yet… Are you the problem?

Reality Check: You’re probably a problem if your employees are trying to avoid you.

If you answered yes to one or more of the questions, don’t worry. Most people are a part of this fierce competition.

In the past, I’ve worked with bosses who are always in the office, who regularly call in to ensure that their employees are working, who are constantly saying that they have another meeting to go to (because they’re embarrassed to say that they’re going home), and who often publicly praise 12-hour work days.

Doesn’t common sense tell you that this is not good for the well-being of you or your team members? This might work short-term, but long-term, your team will quit on you. If you don’t believe me, check this out. According to a 2015 Gallup Study, about half of all US employees have left a job at some point to “get away from” their boss.

Click to Tweet: When you overwork and run yourself into the ground, you overwhelm and run your employees away. @derekdeprey #movetolivewell #shiftbook

If you’re a part of this problem, realize that you’re creating an illusion in each one of your employees that they should be doing what you do, too. You’re unintentionally overworking your employees. The result is a ripple effect of burnout. When you behave like this, your staff feels like they must work the same schedule, make excuses as to why they’re not in the office first, or create a nightly competition as to who leaves last.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy working a lot of hours, and I appreciate working hard. I hope you do, too. The good outweighs the bad, especially if your drive is coming from inner purpose. But just because one peer or authority figure out of hundreds of colleagues mumbles a ridiculous line, such as “It Must Be Nice To Start Work So Late,” don’t stress out over his or her insecurity.

So what can we do to be better bosses and colleagues? Be the example! Work hard with genuine passion, exercise when you’re able, use your vacation, eliminate pointless meetings, trust people to help you, and go home when your highest priorities are accomplished … not when your boss or toxic colleagues leave.

ACTION: No one will tell you that they’re too busy. You have to be the judge for yourself as well as your team members. For a moment, visualize three rubber bands. First, a flimsy rubber band representing lazy people. Second, a snapped rubber band symbolizing stressed out people. Third, a perfect rubber band, with just the right amount tension, that embodies just the right amount of passion and challenge. Now, think about the average number of hours that you and your employees work. Which rubber band are you? Which rubber band are your employees? If you’re about to break, what can you do differently to ensure a quality work-life, long-term, for everyone whom you influence?


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