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Arsen
Arsen

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Managers, don’t work overtime

I already wrote a post on dangers of working overtime, but this time I'm looking from the manager's perspective. It's a story about overtime, but more generally, I would call it "Don't show behaviour that you disapprove of".

Management changes habits

One of my strongest opinions is that no one should work more than your contract specifies. The reasons behind it are:

  • working overtime is not heroic; it's a management failure;
  • the person who works overtime pays for it with their mental health;
  • unpaid overtime breaks the contract between the employee and the company, then breaking the contract breaks the trust. If that paragraph can be violated, what else can the employee or the company violate? What is such a contract worth?

When I was an individual contributor, I would never open my mailbox or chat after working hours. But as a manager, I never have enough time to do everything I planned (at least, to my quality standards). Also, I feel responsible both for the project and for my team. Suddenly, I found myself checking my mailbox in the evening or on a day off. And one day, I felt tempted to answer a question in the chat because I knew the answer, which would help the team. But I had to stop myself.

Okay, maybe, it is acceptable to check your emails - if it helps you cope with the anxiety. But you certainly cannot let your team know that you do it. When you are a manager, people pay more attention to what you do. Your actions have more weight. If your teammates notice that you work on your day off, they might think this is expected from everyone. But when you do that - you normalize such behaviour, you add it to the work culture.

Sometimes you feel down, you are out of time, and it seems like an extra couple of hours of work can fix everything. It makes you feel good about yourself - selfless, dedicated, sacrificing your free time for the greater good. But no one benefits from it in the end; actually, both you and the company lose in the long term. (Unless you are a co-founder and a stakeholder and receive 30% of the company's income.) And when you are a manager, your team joins the group of losers. So - don't work overtime.

Matters of culture

It is a part of the manager's responsibility to form the work culture in the team. The same applies to questionable humour, gossiping, talking behind someone's back, handling critical situations, asking for help and giving feedback. Everything you do might be an example to someone else. Do you apologize when you lose your temper? If nine people interrupted you asking for help, how do you answer to the tenth person? When someone makes a discriminating joke, how do you react?

Photo by Abdelrahman Hassanein on Unsplash

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