People who work 9-5 and take an hour for lunch
If you read this last week, you’ll remember that I was told by someone that you couldn’t write meaningful objectives for people who just work 9-5 and expect to take an hour for lunch.
I dealt with the first part of that statement last week. This week I’d like to address the concept of people who “just work 9-5 and expect to take an hour for lunch.”
The true story of a 9-5 worker
Many years ago I had the pleasure of working with a delightful client at a university.
One day he asked me if he should give his secretary a pay rise or not.
She was a very senior secretary, responsible for the running of his office and at least four other secretaries. I asked him what his concerns were. It was just one thing:
“She never stays late.” He told me.
This was true. I had never seen Avril in the office after 5pm. So I asked:
“Has anything ever been late or unfinished because she would not stay late?”
“No.” He responded immediately with absolute certainty.
“So are you saying she is so efficient that she gets everything done during the normal working day and never costs you any extra money in overtime?” I asked.
“I think I’d better give her that rise.” He responded.
I came across this phrase when I worked in a company where it was seen to be a good thing to stay late. People thought it correlated with commitment. That may have been the case. In my view it also correlated with poor efficiency, low levels of organisational skills and a need to impress the boss.
My colleagues would sit around chatting about all kinds of things during the day and then start doing serious work at about 5.30.
The trouble with this kind of behaviour is it leads to massive inefficiencies. It’s a system where it is in the interest of people to stretch out their work.
What you need is the complete reverse: a system that encourages exactly the opposite kind of behaviour.
People who just work 9-5
Now, when I hear someone describing colleagues in this way I regard it as more of a comment on their own failings. It usually indicates that they think long hours in themselves are beneficial, no matter what is achieved (or not achieved).
They are often incapable of measuring achievement and find it easier to measure value by the amount of time people spend on the task or keeping a seat warm. The more you think about that the more stupid it is.
Who are the people who work 9-5?
I have worked with many of these people and they are the salt of the earth, in my view. Many of them are skilled, highly committed employees and members of a team.
They often have to leave at 5pm to pick up children or catch a bus. This does not make them any less committed. And it often makes them more efficient.
A question for you
Imagine you need to have an operation. You have the choice between Sam and Charlie. Sam’s operations take on average 8 hours. He always stays late and works long hours. Charlie usually completes her operations in 4 hours and, although happy to stay late, rarely has to do so.
Do you want a surgeon who is tired, inefficient and possibly incompetent? I imagine not.
I know of one surgical unit where the situation I have described exists (I have changed the names.) The reason Charlie is so much more efficient is that she has spent years improving her technique and learning better and more effective ways to carry out her operations.
It is not surprising that she is much more popular as a surgeon than her colleagues (who have put in very little effort in this area).
We should be rewarding people for finding quicker, easier and more efficient ways of achieving their goals, not for incompetence and the lack of willingness to make improvements.