Who’s the real tyrant?

“Oh come on Rosa, you can’t be such an idealist about this: Managers just don’t work 40-hour work weeks. 50 or 60 hours per week comes with the territory.”

Well sorry, I don’t accept that, and it has nothing to do with being an idealist.

Managers, you are your own worst enemy. You’ll never get any semblance of a good healthy lifestyle when you’re the first one to have these unreasonable expectations.

You complain about tyrannical bosses who crack the whip, and yet when I talk to you about the managers who work for or with you, it turns out you have the very same expectations. When labor is tight or a deadline looms you turn cheap: You avoid overtime by sticking to the posted schedule with your hourly workers, and anyone on salary must remain, shoulder the load, and pick up the pieces.

How can you expect this sorry state of affairs to change when you are the very one helping it to proliferate? That’s not “just the way it is.” That’s the way you cause it to be with poor planning, bad habits, and broken business models.

I believe there’s far greater wisdom in sticking with the 40-hour work week. Even those who are in love with their jobs need to be sure they aren’t consumed by them or they will reach a point where there is very little they are truly effective in achieving.

Don’t delude yourself thinking your managers work long hours because they are dedicated, loyal, hard-working, conscientious and in love with their work. They may simply be towing the line with what they understand you to expect from them. If you gave them the choice, and they had no fear of repercussion, I betcha anything they’d go home on time.

Fix your broken processes so they can. Manage with aloha by managing smarter.

Related post: Red Flag Rising

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  1. says

    You’re absolutely right, Rosa. Those kind of hours have become a management fetish. I’m old enough to remember when folk were rushing around predicting everyone would work only a two-day week, or millions would be unemployed, due to the impact of computers and automation. Whatever happened to that, I wonder?
    What’s at the root here are screwed-up values. Valuing hard work is an integral part of the American mind-set, perhaps due to the country’s puritan history and origins. Nothing wrong with that in itself, until people start looking at how hard the work is and thinking it might be worth even more if it was harder. Now it’s no longer about working to get what you want, it’s about working hard to show what a worthy person you are, whether it’s needed or not.
    How crazy is that?

  2. says

    Maybe we need to do something radical Adrian, like abolishing salaries altogether and paying everyone by the hour … then again, there are all the self-employed who work these crazy schedules and don’t pay themselves anything at all!
    So you are right, it comes right back to our values driving our behavior.