Why Clocking In a 60-hour Week Doesn’t Make You a Good Leader
Sure, we’ve all had busy weeks. A result of business-critical issues that just need to be fixed, or a major project with a tight deadline – you have no choice. In these cases, a 60-hour week may be unavoidable.
But if this is a regular occurrence, you’ve got a problem. Not only because doing this for an extended period of time will put you, or your team, at risk of burnout, but because it sets a bad example.
Working Hard Does Not Equal Working Smart
Yes, I said 60-hour week sets a bad example. Not as an exception, but as an expected norm. We’ve all been there, or at least, seen it. Those people that work long hours as a badge of honour, rather than for the results they deliver. Luckily, with the increasing awareness of the importance of wellbeing in work the ‘old world’ behaviours and expectations are shifting, but they’re still there if and when you look for them.
Be careful in your own management style not to give the impression that ‘staying late’ is something to be commended. It should be applauded when people do leave on time, having done everything they set out to do that day.
Productivity is What Makes the World go Around
My biggest question has always been: why on earth wouldn’t you find a way to deliver the same results in a shorter time? If you can do your job in 7.5 hours a day, as opposed to 10, that’s a good thing.
In fact it’s a great thing, for everyone, however you look at it. A business will ultimately get more from you, as you will have more free time, without impacting your work life balance. And the same goes for your team. As a leader, you should be incentivising your team to find ways in which to do their roles in a shorter timeframe, not encouraging ‘hard work’ and late nights as a measure of ‘effort’.
Stress Hampers Team Performance and Wellbeing
We all know that engagement and performance are intricately linked. And if your team is fed up, and probably stressed, from working enforced long weeks, it’s likely they are going to become disengaged. Furthermore, that continuous feeling of being under pressure inevitably evolves into a vicious cycle of performance decline.
The fact is, as a workforce, many of us are under stress. Some statistics show it’s as high as 1 in 5 workers, and it’s well known that it’s a, if not, the leading cause of sick leave. So, fixing it is not only a personal priority, it’s a business one. As a leader it is your responsibility to ensure your team is sufficiently resourced and supported.
What Can You do if You Find Yourself Stuck in That 60-hour Rut?
Always plan your week, inside working hours. Never be tempted to plan a 12-hour day. Give yourself tighter timeslots for your objectives, as work usually expands to the time allocated. Prioritise complex matters as early morning tasks, when you’re fresher and things are likely to take you less time. Close down your email between certain hours so as not be distracted and practice the fact that it’s OK to not make yourself available 24/7 – don’t let yourself be at the beck and call of someone else’s day.
Above all it’s about taking back control and finding out how to strip out the inefficiency and non-value add work that you are doing. Focus on the problem areas and find ways to close out time in your working day for ‘you’ and the tasks you need to deliver.
At the end of the day, your team will always be a reflection of you – let them pick up your good habits, not your bad ones.