I find writing this post a bit ironic and I am, without a doubt, a workaholic. Between the rapid growth of KidoZen, leading the strategy side of TelIago and some third-party projects I work around 16 hours during weekdays and another 8-10 hours during the weekend. I don’t complain about it. I have the privilege to be at a point in my life on which I enjoy what I am doing more than at any other time in my career and I am convinced that it takes that kind of effort to make a difference in this highly competitive market.
Having said that, I tried very hard to not encourage that type of behavior within our team. At KidoZen, our teams work fairly regular 8-10 hour days and although, occasionally, we end up putting insane hours at the end of each release cycle, we never encourage or reward that type of behavior. At this point in my career, as I am convinced most workaholics are damaging to the team dynamics.
My reasoning here is very simple: If you are going to regularly work insane hours you need a structure to sustain that rhythm and most people don’t even think about. I can work long hours because I meticulously divide my focus during the day on different aspects that help keep me fresh. Contrary to that thinking, I found that most workaholic behaviors are completely triggered as a continuous and disproportioned response to short-term needs with little strategy or structure around it.
Here are some of the reasons why, I think, you should stay away from workaholics:
- Workaholism is contagious: When someone regularly work insane hours to accelerate certain delivery, their colleagues feel compelled to do the same even if they are not equipped to do so
- Competitiveness: Related to the previous point, workaholism indirectly foment a level of competitiveness within a team that can be detrimental to the long term goals of a specific project.
- Long term performance degradation: Unless you take the time to structure a method that allows you to regularly work long hours, your performance will degrade over time as an inevitable consequence of exhaustion.
- Burnout factor: Being burnout as a consequence of working long hours ends of affecting the overall performance and attitude of the team.
- Short-term focus: If you are constantly burning hours focusing on short term objectives, it becomes really hard to keep thinking and contributing to the long term strategic vision of a product or company.
- Working hard for the wrong reasons: Ultimately, I can live with workaholics as long as they are driven for the right reasons but I found out that, more often than not, you encounter people whose only objective with working long hours is not passion or motivation but a selfish desire to score some points with their management team.
Those are just some of the elements why I fundamentally try to not encourage workaholic-type behaviors within our team. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts about it. More about this topic in a future post….