If you have to choose from working longer hours than you do already or working smarter, then you will probably find the latter will achieve better results in the long run. I don’t remember where I heard it, but there is a saying “it’s not the hours you put in, but what you put into those hours”. That’s kind of true. However, of course the dream manager or key employee is the one that puts in long intense hours when it is really needed, when you are short staffed or managing change, or at some critical point of finance, but nobody (and I mean nobody) should be doing more than ten hour days constantly.
Beyond ten hour days, then it is difficult to maintain a life outside of work and without a proper balance, it is impossible to be happy. In my experience those that repeatedly work more than ten or twelve hour days, tend to burn out after two or three years.
One of my pet hates is when people tell me how hard they are working. Don’t tell me how hard you work but instead tell me what you achieved. I have one presenter for example who always tells me how much effort they are putting in. But unless they are consistently achieving targets or at least consistently improving in their results, I frankly don’t care. In fact, if they are working so hard and not achieving things then they are most definitely in the wrong job.
Then there is the manager who is continually putting in long hours and wants you to recognise them for their efforts. Again, I have a simple view. Their hard work only means something if they have developed a high performance team, created something new or have achieved positive results. Don’t get me wrong, there are always phases in a growing and changing business when you will need to work extreme hours. And nobody gets to the top in a business without being an extremist for several periods in his or her career. But please make sure you pace yourselves.
On the other hand, I loathe the standard working week. No wonder the EU is in deep water. Over regulation, mandatory lunch breaks, eight hour days are a complete farce and has bought Europe to its knees. If you saw how hard people in Asia work compared to Europe you would understand why China and India are taking over the world. It has nothing to do with the size of population or lower wages; it is simply that they have a far better work ethic. I remember reading a story about out-of-work German steel workers watching outside of the security fences protecting their closed down steel works, at the fourteen hour days the Chinese construction workers were putting in as they dissembled the factories and equipment piece by piece. Once taken apart, each piece was labelled and then put on a ship and sent to China, to be reconstructed. The ex-steel workers were reported to daily be laughing and mocking the Chinese construction team. They did not understand why anyone would work so hard. But what they failed to appreciate at the time, was the reason their factories had closed in the first place, was because the cost of the steel they produced, with their seven and a half hour, five day week, could not compete with the prices the Chinese companies were offering.
but likewise if you just turn up nine to five every day and just do the bare minimum, you’re not working hard.
Work hard and work smart, but be sensible with your hours. If you burn out, you are no good to anyone, but likewise if you just turn up nine to five every day and just do the bare minimum, you’re not likely to progress very far either.