Just a day after writing about the elephants that seem to have taken over my blog, I came across an article that begged to be addressed, regardless. While I would prefer to continue my series, Lunch hour interviews: View from the director’s desk, sadly, an elephant sat on it.
The article linked to is called What gets done is what gets done, and in it the author describes a dangerous precedent that can lead to a demoralized workplace. In essence, if working extra hours–long hours and weekends–becomes the norm in order to achieve goals and meet deadlines, then anyone who is unable to go that extra mile looks like a slacker.
I see this phenomenon in libraries a lot because libraries are short on staff and money. Too often a few people are pushed beyond their limits in order to simply do the job that is required. Regular reliance on employees to work overtime, evenings, weekends (when those times are not generally part of the workday) makes those employees who cannot put in those extra hours due to other limitations on their time look less committed and less valuable, which usually isn’t true at all. It probably also creates resentment on behalf of the “heroes” and guilt from the “slackers.”
What is true is that such an imbalance is indicative of a structural flaw rather than flawed employees. There are always going to be staff members that work harder than others within or outside of normal work hours. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with going the extra mile and doing what it takes to get the job done–in fact, that is essential sometimes. But if it’s always necessary to do more and that burden always falls on the same people, then something’s wrong at the core. It’s not fair to anyone.
I encourage you to read the article. If you don’t have time, here’s the last line-
“Be driven, but be realistic, and create a culture based on flow, process and collaboration, not work heroism.”