Thursday, March 30, 2006

Why we should go home on time

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, March 30, 2006

Let me share with you this e-mail from Meralco Executive Ernie Cabral.

Narayana Murthy is undoubtedly one of the most famous persons from Karnataka. He is known not just for building the biggest IT Empire in India but also for his simplicity. Almost every important dignitary visits InfoSys campus. He is one of the 50 Influential People of Asia according to Asiaweek and also the new IT advisor to the Thailand Prime Minister.

Extract of Mr. Narayana Murthy’s Speech during Mentor Session in another IT company in India: I know people who work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, or more. Some people do so because of a work emergency where the long hours are only temporary. Other people I know have put in these hours for years. I don’t know if they are working all these hours, but I do know they are in the office this long. Others put in long office hours because they are addicted to the workplace.

Whatever the reason for putting in overtime, working long hours over the long term is harmful to the person and to the organization. Being in the office long hours, over long periods of time, makes way for potential errors. My colleagues who are in the office long hours frequently make mistakes caused by fatigue.

Correcting these mistakes requires their time as well as the time and energy of others. I have seen people work Tuesday through Friday to correct mistakes made after 5 p.m. on Monday. Another problem is that people who are in the office long hours are not pleasant company. They often complain about other people; they are irritable, cranky, or even angry. Other people avoid them. Such behavior poses problems, where work goes much better when people work together instead of avoiding one another.

As leaders, there are things we can do to help people leave the office. First is to set the example and go home ourselves. I work with a manager who chides people for working long hours. His words quickly lose their meaning when he sends these chiding group e-mails with a time-stamp of 2 a.m., Sunday.

Second is to encourage people to put some balance in their lives. Here are helpful guidelines:

• Wake up early, eat a good breakfast and go to work.
• Work hard and smart for eight or nine hours.
• Go home.
• Read the books/comics, watch a funny movie, dig in the dirt, play with your kids, etc.
• Eat well and sleep well.

This is called recreating. Doing steps 1, 3, 4 and 5 enable step 2. Working regular hours and recreating daily are simple concepts. They are hard for some of us because that require “personal change.” They are possible since we all have the power to choose to do them.

In considering the issue of overtime, perhaps some people put in such long hours because they don’t want to miss anything when they leave the office. The trouble with this is that events will never stop happening. That is life! Things happen 24 hours a day. Allowing for little rest is not ultimately practical.

So, take a nap. Things will not happen while you’re asleep, but you will have the energy to catch up when you wake.

Hence, love your job, but never fall in love with your company because you never know when the company stops loving you.

Apt reminder from Mr. Murthy, indeed. It is summertime, get off your office chair and get out with your family and friends. There are so many places to visit and enjoy here in our lovely Philippines.

ASTD 2006: Aside from Jack Welch, other interesting speakers and topics at the American Society for Training & Development International Conference and Exposition are: Ken Blanchard on Leading at a Higher Level; Sharon Jordan-Evans, Improve Workplace Satisfaction; Mette Norgaard, Stories @ Work and R. Roosevelt Thomas, Taking Diversity to the Next Level. Email or call 0917-8996653 for details on how to attend the conference.

Moje is president of Paradigms and Paradoxes Corp. Her e-mail add is

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