Being Effective – Not Busy!

Over worked!

Here are some interesting pieces from The Standard, a Hong Kong newspaper, reporting on a seminar for corporate executives held there last week.

“We believe long working hours are a sign of loss of productivity and efficiency,” said Ambrose Linn, Hong Kong manager at Dutch mail company TNT, which enforces a maximum 48-hour week on its employees with no more than 12 hours’ overtime.

. . . a survey by local non-profit organization Community Business found that employees work an average 51 hours a week – 25 percent higher than the maximum working hours set by the International Labour Organization. A third of respondents said their productivity was being affected by long hours while 31 percent said long hours were causing health problems.

“Senior management has to change its mind-set, especially with the new graduates coming out of university. They don’t want to work 60 hours a week, and companies won’t attract the talent,” Shalini Thakur, associate director of diversity at investment bank UBS, told the seminar.

BP says it has stopped making it mandatory for senior management to be supplied with smart phones and e-mail devices because constantly checking and responding to messages goes against the company’s philosophy of promoting work-life balance.


Does this sound familiar?

What about reflecting on these obvious – but frequently overlooked questions:

  • Do we have enough people to do the work required?
  • Do they all know, clearly, what they are expected to do?
  • Do they have the time, the tools, and the skills to do it?
  • Are they rewarded enough to make what they do seem attractive?
  • Do they enjoy what they do and give it their best efforts?
  • Are the working conditions suitable to a civilized community?

 High performing organisations focus on maximizing effectiveness in a pretty fixed working week.  They know that regular long hours, fire-fighting, lack of focus and attention are all symptoms of bad management.  And the only thing that you can manage is you!

By improving the way you delegate and prioritise it is always possible to start getting back to something more like a 40 hour productive and efficient week.

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