We expect the boss to be a hard worker. So, we’re not surprised when we see him or her work long hours.
It becomes an issue however when the boss expects or demands those working for them to work long hours as well.
You receive a text on a Saturday afternoon asking for a meeting. An email hits your inbox at 11:00 p.m. requesting information. Or the phone rings during the dinner hour to discuss an issue.
Situations like this can create a detrimental work environment. Employees become frustrated. Perceptions arise that only working 40 – 50 hours a week will lead you to branded as subpar. Work quality and productivity among a team can decrease. And in the worst scenarios, employees leave to join another team or company.
As an entrepreneur and business owner, it’s not unusual for me to work long hours for extended periods. This occurs when I have a significant workload or a project that consumes me till I reach completion. During these periods, I may need information or assistance from my team. But it’s important to me to remember they may not be working during the evening on a Sunday.
There are steps employees can take to manage the expectations of a boss who never seems to stop working.
1. The first step is self-awareness, understanding how you work best.
It’s key to realize that because the boss works well by putting in long hours doesn’t mean you should as well. If you are most productive by putting in a 12-hour day, go for it. If you lose interest and productivity after eight hours, accept it and stop pushing for more. You must understand your best work efficiency before having any productive conversations.
2. After realization, communication with the boss is necessary.
The most significant problems occur when employees make assumptions. It’s essential to gain a clear understanding of the expectations. Feel comfortable telling your boss how you work best and when you are most productive. Be honest if long nights don’t work for you. Let your boss when you can and cannot work over the weekend or on evenings. Don’t be afraid to say you will be unavailable for a period of time.
3. When at work, work hard.
Hard working bosses appreciated hard working employees. They are also highly frustrated by those who don’t work hard while engaged in work. Working evenings and weekends may not be necessary. But when at work, be actively engaged in the tasks at hand.
4. Finally, focus on results.
People who work long hours are often driven by results. When I am in a period of working long hours, I am usually focused on accomplishing a specific task. It’s helpful to know my team has responded with the answers and results I need to complete my work during off hours, so remember to focus on helping your boss or superiors get the results they are trying to achieve.
As a company owner, I may choose to work late into the evenings or throughout the weekend, but I don’t expect the same from my team. Understanding when they are available is extremely important. Most important is knowing they are working at their highest efficiency and focusing on required results.
Figure out what works best for you and use the steps above to avoid burn-out and maximize efficiency.
Brian T. King is the founder and owner of multiple firms encompassing design, construction, real estate, and manufacturing, and currently president of the integrated Design-Build firm A M King. Brian shares his passion for mentoring young professionals, rising managers and entrepreneurs at speaking engagements around the country, on podcasts and via his blog.