Time Spend Versus Results

Will Lukang, PMP, CSM, MBA, MASCL

I was talking to someone few weeks ago about our work environment these days.   The person I spoke to mentioned that working 10 to 12 hours a day is the norm and that anything less than that would be frowned upon.   For most companies, cost saving, productivity and efficiency are up on their list of things to accomplish each year.   The quest to do more with less causes a ripple that causes people to work longer hours to get things done.

That discussion led me to think about my time spent and all the people around me.   While it is true that I have spent more hours over the last four years than I did in the past, the circumstances that I’m in are very different because of the types of projects that I was fortunate to lead and worked on.  However, the discussion made me aware of how people spend their time and the result that yielded out of the time spent.

I beg to ask the question: Is working more hours really a way to demonstrate that we are committed to the cause of the company?  And, by doing, so are we an asset to the firm?   Therefore, why do some managers bring it up when discussing how much time we spent at work?   As if we don’t spend 10-12 hours a day would mean that we are not reaching our maximum capability.   Is it fair to expect that logging more hours is a true measure of our contributions?

From my perspective, I value the results more than the total hours spent.   One could argue that there is a minimum number of hours worked to commensurate the pay we received.    As one my developer often says, “I’ll do the work that I was paid for and won’t do anything less than it.”   His saying reminds me of the saying “An honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.”   Which I firmly believe is the way to measure our contribution. We need to be able to say that we did not take more than we deserve and that we put in the hours needed to get the job done.

Working more only makes sense when

  • It is for a stretch project – such project that you committed to ahead of time, but did not get around to and that would affect your ability to get better projects in the future.
  • Last-minute surprises – this could be last-minute problems that could jeopardize the project that you’ve work so hard for the last few months.
  • Taking one for the team – I believe that we succeed as a team and fail as a team.  When someone fails to deliver their share of the work and the team will end up paying the price for an issue, someone should pick up the slack and get it done.

Working more does not make sense when

  • Task has less priority – don’t burn your midnight oil on a task that has less priority and brings little value.   You need to prioritize your work and work on the one with the nearest due date and that has the highest importance.
  • To show that you’re committed – working long hours with the implicit assumption that it adds more value does not make sense.   The number of hours worked should yield equal results.
  • Assuming that by showing you’re a hard worker you’ll get promoted – the reality is if you’ll be spending more time now to get your job done, chances are you’ll have to work even more longer hours to assume more responsibility.

Don’t fall into the trap that working long hours means you’re being valuable to the company.  Focus on results and making sure your results match your effort.   I’d like to reiterate that I did not write this post to discourage people from working hard.  My point is: make sure that your work adds value to the business. Don’t do busy work and take important things for granted.

If you have children, remember that they are only young once.  If you missed any opportunities you can never buy back the time.   Bonding with your children is best done while they are young.  Once your children reached their teenage years, they want to hang out with their friends; therefore your chances are minimized.

Take care of yourself and make sure that you’re a positive influence to the people around you.   When you start your day tomorrow, think of the value of the task that you’re about to worked on and compare it against the other tasks on hand and work on the one with the highest priority.  Because hours spent should be almost equal to the result they produce.  It cannot be 150% work effort for 50% results.

Bullying in School

Will Lukang, PMP, CSM, MBA, MASCL

Growing up I had my share of experience being bully in school.   Back then they either took my lunch money, made do chores for them or, worst case, they would beat me up.    At times, I would try to avoid the bully, particularly those older than me, just to avoid the hassle.   It made my world a lot smaller because I was not able to venture to places that they would frequent.

My upbringing was a little different in the sense that my parents often thought that I instigated the fight and that’s why I ended up getting beat up.   Therefore I tended to keep the issue to myself and never tell anyone unless I came home with a ripped-up uniform or all the buttons gone; that’s when I had lots of explaining to do.  And as I grew up and got taller, the incidents of bullying trailed off.  Especially in situations when I fought back and defended myself.

On Monday, my seven year old came home from school and told my wife that a boy from a higher grade yelled, “Go away ugly Asian girl.”   My wife asked her what she did in that situation and she indicated that she just walked away.   She was shocked by what happened to her.   I understand that sooner or later that she will experience bullying.  What upsets me is that the bullying has a racial undertone.  The incident kept me up at night wondering why it happened.  On Tuesday night, I wrote a note to her teachers and expressed my concern regarding the incident.  The principal acted swiftly and the matter was addressed accordingly.

What’s my point by telling this story?    The point of my story is that we need to constantly communicate with our children.  It is important that they feel safe to tell us what’s going on while they’re away from home.   As parents, we need to keep an open mind and resist the urge to jump to conclusions.    Our children do not want to be judged, but rather want to be heard.

With the advancement of technology, bullying has manifested itself in many forms, such as sending explicit pictures to all their friends that would cause embarrassment to the subject.    Unfortunately, bullies do not usually think of the repercussions of their actions and victims are left to fend for themselves.   I would suggest that you establish an open channel of communication to your children.  It’s best that you know what’s going on; this way you can help them.   Let your children know that you’re there for them.    Let them know that they have the choice to walk away and that the choice is always theirs.