When I was young I enjoyed watching American wrestling on TV. Although the action was a little -shall we say – rehearsed, there were some great characters and plots which made many of the era’s wrestler’s household names. They would regularly spend more time hyping the action than actually getting involved in it. This led to some legendary one liners and quotes, and my favourite came from a wrestler named “The Macho Man” Randy Savage. He would often say “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room”. It is a great quote and it can be interpreted in many ways. I always like to think that from a team perspective it could translate to – If you aren’t pulling your weight, then you are holding others back.
Since time began working long hours was (is) the way employees would prove they were pulling their weight, this was the employees default method of making sure that they were considered to be “living on the edge”. It’s easy – more hours worked equals better (more) output – right?
The above may seem stupid and illogical, but this is how many organisations (or industries) still work today. And the obvious reason is that most organisations think there isn’t currently a better method to measure employees output – or commitment to the cause. Employees understand this and realise that regardless of their output they need to be seen to be working hard.
This philosophy isn’t only employed in the workplace, it is common in many things we do as human beings. For example, if we are to achieve better levels of health and fitness many of us believe that;
- more hours exercising = fitter healthier me
- less calories consumed = slimmer healthier me
This way of thinking towards our health and fitness has continually been proven to be incorrect. But it has also been proven to be detrimental to our goal of achieving a higher level of health and fitness as discussed in this link.
There is also a negative impact to the “more is better” philosophy for organisations employing it. This article here suggests that workers subjected to a 60 hour week had a lower level of output compared to what they achieved when working a 40 hour week. So it seems that longer “workouts” may also have a negative impact on the health of an organisation.
Let’s start living on the edge
For an organisation the solution is quite simple. To achieve better output employees need to be more productive. And when this productivity starts to wane then they need time out to recharge their batteries. So every hour worked has the maximum level of output possible.
For an employee the solution is also simple. To prove their worth to the company then they need to find better methods in which to prove their output (and productivity level).
If we again look to health and fitness for examples, we can get some ideas of what can be achieved when we get seriously productive. Tim Ferris (who has made a living from understanding the benefits of productivity) proved what could be achieved when you get serious about productivity. He spent 4 weeks training just 1 hour every week to get unbelievable results, you can read more here. Interestingly he followed 6 basic principles and #6 is –
“Record every workout in detail, including date, time of day, order of exercises, reps, and weight. Remember that this is an experiment, and you need to control the variables to accurately assess progress and make adjustments.”
So how do we get more productive?
The one area that (most) organisations and employees can vastly improve on is the “logging of what has been achieved”, be it on a daily or weekly basis. This puts both the employee and their manager in an excellent position to sit down and discuss progress continuously.
Performance logging along with good workforce alignment can help teams and organisations achieve massive improvements in performance. Ohhhhhh Yeahhh – as the Macho Man would of said.
Damian Worrad – Chief Technology Officer