An incredible work ethic is something many expect from executives, especially young ambitious ones. They tend to wake up early and barely sleep. It’s a signal of dedication that might seem good, but actually takes a toll personally and on a company. Their attitude, that they have to do everything themselves, can be detrimental to a company and its culture. It means that others at the company don’t feel like their boss trusts them to do real work, and it can mean that no one’s being trained or developed to do the job in the future. That schedule’s also a great way to burn out and see personal relationships deteriorate.
In an interview with The New York Times’ Adam Bryant, Interface Inc. CEO Daniel Hendrix shared the conversation that convinced him that effective management is about more than keeping incredible hours.
“I was working 24/7 and really had two jobs: C.F.O. during the day, then an investment banker at night … Delegation wasn’t really part of the equation because I was afraid that if I gave it to somebody, they would fail and then I would fail.
The company brought in a president above me who was really charismatic and dynamic. One day he was in the office on a Sunday and he said: “Every time I’m in here on Sunday, you’re in here working. I’m not impressed by somebody who can’t get their job done in five days. I’m really not. It’s about balance.” And I had two young kids. He said, “Go out and hire some people and have a life.”
That’s when he started delegating, started building a team, and making sure employees had the tools to do their job.
If a manager has a massive project, and his employees aren’t able to finish it, working late nights, early mornings, and weekends might be the only way to get it done. Instead of accepting that as normal and resigning themselves to that schedule, the most effective bosses figure out how to fix problems for the next time.
Everything bosses do sends a signal to employees. Working weekends certainly sends the message that hard work is expected, but can also have unintended consequences.
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