Sunday, March 7, 2010

Over Worked and Under Performing

I didn’t get the memo, but it looks like many organisations, both large and small, have instituted internal ‘reward programmes’ for employees who work more than 250 hours a month.

It’s not clear, at the time of writing, whether the ‘reward’ is an all expenses paid trip to a five star hotel in the Bahamas or to the cardiac unit of their local hospital.

I was talking to a banking executive the other week, who, having just come back from a week’s conference was working till 23h00 each evening just to catch up. Amusingly his company asked him to go on another conference last week, to which he said no (or something similar) – you’ll be pleased to know that he’s now on three weeks holiday and has left instructions that he doesn’t want anything in his ‘in-tray’ on his return – (we wish him luck).

How can organisations effectively plan for tomorrow and their future, if their management and staff are spending 150% of their time either ‘catching up’ or sorting out yesterday’s problems?

Effective organisation structures, effective team work, delegation, succession planning (and other business principles), along with improved technology (like the Internet and mobile phones) are supposed to make business more effective and streamlined and not more cumbersome.

There can only be two reasons why management and staff are working 250 hours a month, it’s either due to the efficiency of the current management and staff compliment. In this case, and as Jim Collins says in his book Good to Great, “you need to get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus and the right people in the right seats”.

Or, if it’s not the managers and staff, then you have to conclude that you have poor or ineffective leadership. In this case you either need to re-evaluate your leadership style and approach or get off the bus.

With all the technology and business principles organisations have at their disposal it is a poor reflection on organisational leadership when managers and staff have to work harder rather than smarter.

Organisations need to find the time to effectively analyse their business environment, so they can embrace business methodologies and practices that simplify their business operations – this will give them a highly motivated workforce and an immediate competitive advantage.


Collins, J. (2001). Good to Great. HarperCollins. NY.

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