What you need to know:
- Getting ahead in your career has more to do with your performance, potential and character.
- Focus on pulling your weight and making your full contribution at work, not the clock or your boss.
- Do you have a question? Send it to our team: [email protected]
Q. I complete my tasks satisfactorily within the official working hours, meaning that by the time the clock ticks 5pm, I am ready to leave the office. My colleagues, however, work late most of the time, forcing me to hang around the office for an extra hour just in case my boss thinks that I don’t work hard enough. Do I have to work overtime to get ahead in my career?
People work late for a variety of reasons, among them the practice of flexi time, where employees may come in and leave work a bit late, cases of deadlines that need to be beaten, avoiding the tyranny of rush hour, escaping other spheres of life or, indeed, an attempt to impress bosses who fallaciously equate leaving work late to their teams’ degree of commitment to duty or output.
While some bosses may be hard to please, few fail to notice employees who meet or exceed performance expectations and whose behaviour illustrates the values of the organisation they work for.
Does the extra time your colleagues put in help them produce their finest pieces of work? Would they work late if the boss left early?
Since you have been at it for some time now, has hanging around in the evening instead of going home enhanced your performance or sense of engagement?
Getting ahead in your career has more to do with your performance, potential and character than the number of fearful hours you while away waiting for the boss to check out.
Focus on pulling your weight and making your full contribution at work, not the clock or your boss. A legalistic approach to working hours will reap neither results nor a meaningful relationship with your boss.
Although there are seasons when one is required to put in additional hours at work to meet business expectations, research indicates that long hours increase neither creativity nor productivity. Not even a song is gauged by how long it plays.
Beware of the gospel that extols a culture of long working hours - it is work that is meant to be done, not you.
So yes, be prepared to leave work late sometimes, but not for ostentatious reasons.
And contemplate the words of Bernie Klinder, an IT consultant who says, “I try to keep in mind that if a dropped dead tomorrow, all of my acrylic workplace awards would be in the trash the next day and my job would be posted in the paper before my obituary”.