Ok, this seems like an obvious question, and no, it isn’t a trick.
We hire people because we have assignments that need to be completed, sales to be made, and products to be created, manufactured, shipped and billed. We hire people because we’re growing and because other people leave.
We hire people to be productive and to get work done. To meet goals. Yet, that’s often not how we judge or evaluate employees. Too often, we judge them based only on the hours they work.
Logging long hours means “hardworking,” right?
Let me offer an example: A person is at his desk every day when you arrive and is still there most of the time when you leave. What is your first thought about that person? He’s a hard worker, right? And if he puts in weekends when needed, you see him as dedicated, willing to go the extra mile, and committed to the work, correct?
That may be true, but I want you to think about something else: How much is that employee achieving? Is he getting the right things done with the right level of quality in a manner that meets the organization’s needs? Is he hitting his goals? Do all those extra hours positively impact the bottom line? You must answer those questions to fully assess how successful, hard working or dedicated the employee is.
Now, consider this situation: A person is at her desk early and late. What you don’t know is that she is getting her work done in about half the day, but she has figured out that you view people as “hardworking” if they log extra hours. She either glides through the work more slowly, or she finishes early and spends company time reading, surfing the internet, or doing other time-consuming, low value activities. When she realizes you really value weekend workers, she makes sure she has a little work to do (and ensures you know she is working) so that she looks extra dedicated.
Or this situation: A person is struggling to get his work done. He doesn’t really understand the goals and he makes many mistakes. Because of that, he needs as much time as possible to complete the work. So he comes in early and often leaves late. He completes the work, even if it sometimes takes the weekend to finish.
Neither of those last two situations are good for the team or business. So if you are forming opinions about employees, based only on the hours they work, you aren’t considering the full picture, and therefore, can’t accurately assess their competence or dedication.
Change your viewpoint to see the big picture
How do you change your mentality, so that you can fully and fairly evaluate employees’ performance?
- Change your personal perspective. Don’t let hours worked be your benchmark for just about anything. Focus on results and productivity.
- Set clear expectations of what success looks like. What are the benchmarks for productivity and quality? When will people know they are done with their work and have fully met your expectations?
- Measure, measure, measure. Once expectations are clear, we can measure progress and results. Measuring will help you see who is coasting, who needs to be challenged and who needs coaching.
- Provide the bigger picture. When people see the bigger picture, they can put their work into context. That will lead to better decisions, more engagement and higher productivity.
Focus more on results and outcomes than you do on time spent at work and you will see productivity, performance and quality rise.