As a manager of up to 40 people so far in my career, I often find myself asking if I’m being fair or too hard on some or all of my employees.
For better or for worse, I usually default to one simple idea: I don’t hold anyone to higher standards than I hold to myself.
A simple and recent illustration is that as this is a busy season for our team, many are finding themselves in positions in which they have to work later hours or even over the weekend.
In general, we try and achieve work/life balance in our group. People get paid to work 8 hours/day (in concept, anyway), and I’d like to see them live by that when possible.
That said, my 20 years of professional life has found me working more than 40 hours/week for nearly all of it. I’m not stranger to long hours and have worked up to 80 several times in one week.
It’s never really occurred to me to question it or complain about it. It is what it is, and if that’s what it took to get the work done, I didn’t see what the alternative was (aside from hiring more people, but when it comes to a specific and timely project, it’s not always an option).
So when people come to me concerned that they may work up to 45 or 50 hours in a week, inside, my internal reaction isn’t very sympathetic. But I realize that empathy is part of good management, so I try to find a good balance between understanding and accommodating their wishes while providing some perspective.
The majority of full-time, salaried workers at companies all across the United States are expected to work at least 40, if not 50 or more, hours in a week. Just down the street, Amazon has a reputation of expecting 70 hours out of their employee base every week. They practically live there.
Again, I don’t hold anyone to any standards to which I don’t hold myself. In my view, I think people get more satisfaction out of their jobs – and lives – when they achieve more than they ever thought they would or could.
I only hope that’s the atmosphere I’m bringing to the workplace every day.