It is considered a sign of dedication to the organization if one stays back after office hours. The point to note here is that one stays back – not necessarily to work. Calling home to say “I will be late” has become a daily feature for male employees while the female employees are beginning to follow suit. “There’s so much work to do.” Is the given reason and one tends to believe it, considering the pressure that now exists in every profession.
There are some who work late because they have to, some because they want to and some – many in fact – because their colleagues work late and they don’t want to appear to be less pressured. Also, there’s always the hope that others – particularly the boss – notice the extended effort and are suitably impressed. Of the three compulsions only the first merits attention. Those who want to work late often do so to fill in lonely hours of forget private problems. Those who work late to impress at best
provoke a negative reaction. They are a nuisance to others especially if they insist that the secretary and staff stay back too. They often waste the productive working hours in politicking and idle gossip and then stay late to catch up with the day’s work. Those who have to work late fall into two broad categories. (a) Those whose nature of work is such (b) those that supplement their income with overtime remuneration. In the (a) category, perhaps a conscious effort to overcome the problem might help to a certain extent. The employee is often caught between the devil and the deep sea – his family obligations and his professional duties. He can’t jeopardize either if he has to succeed in life. Many sacrifice their home life for the office and this is just as damaging as ignoring work to keep the family happy. However, there are some who have struck a happy balance with a bit of planning, time management and methods of working.
The first step is to start the day early. To get to work before others do and plan the activities ahead. Some of them might be related to others and this is where you can’t dictate the pace of others. Discipline is the key to a smooth day. Avoid seeing visitors for longer time if not necessary. Ask your secretary to filter them and let in only those with genuine business interests. Perhaps you could earmark a day or a certain time during the day to meet visitors without appointment.
Discourage colleagues from dropping in for office gossip. Have a checklist of things to do and if they can be handled just as well by your juniors let them do so. It gives them a sense of importance and also eases your burden. Don’t be under the illusion that anything they can do, you can do better. You’ll only end up piling up your own plate, losing out on efficiency and also becoming unpopular. If your subordinates think that you don’t delegate because you don’t trust their capabilities, let them prove you wrong!
Make sure you don’t have endless meetings which drag on. If you have to give instructions, call all the people concerned at one go and brief them so that you have a team working on it. Earmark one of them as co-coordinator whose business it will be to give you feedback at every step. Perfection comes out of blending harmoniously the two roles you play – as a private individual and as a professional – and doing justice to both in the proper time slots related to each.