Leadership Tactic #84: First to Arrive, Last to Leave? Not for Me

bildeI was watching the Chiefs/Colts game this weekend, and the announcers were talking about the Colts’ wide receivers. Apparently when Reggie Wayne was lost for the season about 8 weeks ago, the rest of the receiver core stepped up and got the Colts into the playoffs.

The announcers supported the dedication of those receivers by saying that they were always the first to arrive to the practice field every day and the last to leave.

That phrase made me stop and think. It’s a phrase that is commonly associated with hard work–you want the employee who is the first to arrive and the last to leave, right? I’m not so sure.

Let me be clear I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but I’m not so sure that more time = hard work. Efficiency and productivity don’t necessarily mean more time. If I gave an employee a project that should take 30 minutes and it takes an hour, it probably means that they were distracted or inefficient.

For those Colts receivers, they probably spent part of those days watching film, studying new plays, and running routes. But surely there’s a tipping point where watching the film a fifth time doesn’t add any new value or when running the route one more time doesn’t make you better at it. In fact, being able to turn off you mind and going home to your family after a certain point is probably really good for the you, the team, and your family.

This post isn’t so much about the Colts as it is ridding us of the mentality that long days = hard work. Long days can become contagious in an office. If someone is commended for arriving early and leaving late (regardless of the quality or efficiency of their work), other employees might start to do the same. They might stretch out their work so that management can see them as someone who works long hours. They might become less efficient for appearances alone.

Right now my only employee is me, but if I’m ever in the position to hire, I’m not going to count hours. I don’t care how many hours you work. I just want you to get the job done, done well, and on time. If it takes you 4 hours a day, so be it. If it takes you 8, that’s fine too. And if you’re always keeping an eye on Facebook, Twitter, BGG, Kickstarter, etc, that’s great too. It’s hard to quantify that kind of effort and dedication. Regardless, I won’t be waiting for you to punch a timecard, and I definitely won’t be commending anyone on being the first to arrive and the last to leave.

What do you think?