Stay Late or Go Home? Many a night, I pondered this question! I noticed it was 5 PM, just ten hours after I arrived. Should I work late or go home? Do you feel the pressure to work late? I am a morning person and do my best work before 9 AM. What do you do?
Very early in my career, my boss told me no one notices when you arrive, but they notice when you leave. Working for a large Fortune 100 corporation, I was very interested in getting more responsibility and more money. I was lucky to be on a team that was on a high profile project. If I succeeded, my career would be set for a while. If I failed, I probably would have to leave. I love pressure, but hate stress. The project lasted eighteen (18) months and came off without a hitch. A software conversion of a payroll, labor and personnel system without errors! Almost unheard of!
I worked long hours, but not late hours. Some people were not happy about my time commitment. Results spoke volumes; however it did little for my teambuilding skills. In the 70s, this was unusual! After the success of the project, I used the opportunity to transfer to another division as a financial analyst. I learned and honed my financial modeling, programming, budgeting, long range planning and financial analysis skills. These skills helped me in every financial job after I left the Fortune 100 company. This division was more entrepreneurial and everyone was on flexible schedules. Work environment is important!
Pressure to work late
Can you ignore the rules and still succeed? The short answer is no! I bet you are surprised with that answer. Although things have changed, bosses still expect people to work late. How late depends on your boss. Whether it is stated or inferred, there are clear expectations that employees should work more than forty (40) hours and stay past 5 PM. Can you work at home? Many people take work home in addition to working late. How did we get here? Shouldn’t you be rewarded for high productivity or efficiency? Instead, working late is like a merit badge!
Workers in the United States, work the most hours in the world! Yet, we are not the most productive. A report (24/7 Wall St.) generated in 2010, listed the United States third using GDP per capita. The GDP is affected by the country’s population, natural resources or manufacturing expertise. Many of these countries do not work nearly as much as we do. They shut down for a summer vacation and still produce more than we do in fewer hours. How do you explain this difference? I cannot!
Why do we continue doing the same things that make us less productive? It could be the same reason education is not as effective as other countries. There are differences in education in various states as well. I think the biggest reason we do not make changes is because we are unwilling to change. I think many people feel if it is not broke, why fix it? The reality is it is broke and we need to fix it! If you ask the people in charge, they would say we always did it this way and we always will!
Can you not work late and succeed? If you are productive and efficient, can you succeed? In the last few decades, I have seen flex hours, restructuring jobs, adjusting work schedules, telecommuting and working from home. Why haven’t did these things become more widespread? People change slowly and hold on to habits of doing things the same way. Will it change? I think it depends on who is in charge and do they want to accommodate the change. Can you be successful? Can you be a leader or promoted with these limitations. It will depend on the circumstances and who is in charge.
Can you change the future? Yes, if you are in charge! You can follow my journey to success. The easiest way for you to be in charge is build your own company and pay people on results. It is an incentive for higher productivity. Do you think Steve Jobs believed in higher productivity? Yes, however he set impossible goals with impossible deadlines. He still expected success! The only difference was he paid you extremely well with salary, bonus and stock option. You were thrilled to work for the best corporate businessman and company in the country. Your success was guaranteed because you performed for the best. The reward is there and it will keep the status quo. Stay Late or Go Home?
Photo by: Aubrey Stoll