When Gary calls in tired, what do you do?

Love this commercial.  I stop whatever I’m doing (even eating!) when it comes on.  The ad isn’t selling a product so much as it’s selling an idea.

While we’ve all had those “I’m exhausted and totally unproductive” days, who would seriously put their job or reputation in jeopardy by being totally honest to their bosses?  It’s easier to come up with an acceptable but dishonest rationale than being upfront about it and just saying “I was kept up all night with a recurring nightmare that I was being chased by a man in a donkey suit but when I tried to dial 9-1-1, I kept misdialing!”.

Well, this guy believes in having nothing to hide.  And he gets the day off he needs and his boss gets the job done. He likely pulls it off because he’s clearly delivered the goods before.  As cranky as the manager is about the situation, his hands are tied because he both values the employee and goals are being met.

Here’s the disconnect:  we’re ultimately judged on whether or not we deliver on our goals but we’re paid by the clock.  The rationale is that we must be at our desks to be considered productive, whether or not that’s actually happening.  I don’t have any stats on this but my gut says you’re more likely to get fired for being flaky about showing up to work than you would be for not producing on a regular basis.

How do we work our way around this one?  Take a look at Motley Fool’s vacation and sick day policy which boils down to “take the time off you need and get paid for it”.  The fine print?  Do the work.


6 Responses

  1. I agree completely Helen – if I had my druthers the world of 9-5 would go the way of the dodo. Did you know that the best selling book for under 25 year old’s last year was “the four hour work week”? His premise that we can be far more productive if we step outside of the 9-5. But here is the issue – I’ve worked in environments with flexible work arrangements and it is almost impossible to set meetings and collaborate on Monday’s and Fridays because so many people are off. And, if your performance management systems are not up to snuff, well a lot of people take a lot of time off and don’t get much done. So here is my question – what systems do you need to put in place to enable productive collaborative work, flexibility and top performance?

    • I went between a few thoughts on what systems you need to put this kind of flexibilty in place… Trust? Goals, targets & timelines? I think a bit of everything. But, I think if ultimately pay was tied to performance, the freeloading would stop. And, you might be able to schedule those meetings on Monday or Friday after all. What do you think?

  2. Great point Helen. Ultimately there needs to be a monumental shift in the way people think about what being productive actually is. There are many people out there who do a great job at covering up the fact that their output isn’t up to snuff. Just by being in the office long hours doesn’t mean you are actually producing.. It might just mean you aren’t as efficient as you should be. Management also needs to really focus on the results as well, and too often that isn’t what is being looked at – it is the hours and the clock instead.

  3. Another interesting book on this topic is Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It (http://www.amazon.ca/Why-Work-Sucks-How-Fix/dp/1591842034/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1252019377&sr=8-1). It’s about Best Buy’s Results Only Work Environment and although conceptually it is quite interesting and they identify results, I still struggle with the same issues brought up by Suzanne (but I think this could be more related to my personal need for structure and routine).

    That aside, in my consultation role, I always encourage managers to look for less things to manage, rather than more. Focus on the productivity, not on rules around internet usage or whether someone is on personal phone calls whereas I find that many jump quickly to finding opportunities to develop more rules and policies instead of dealing with the core issues. Once you start managing those details, you create more work for yourself than benefit for anyone – do you really want to be monitoring how many phone calls someone takes?

  4. As a SAHM I think my two sons would not allow me to pull this off. They’re the toughest employers I’ve ever had!


    Employee No. 1 for Dictators Inc. est. 2007

  5. If 9-5 should go the way of the dodo, then so should silly organizaitonal meetings which are about politicking as much as they are about work. There are sooooo many collaborative tools out there (online meetings, wikis, shared docs, social networks) that would allow for more meaningful work without the shackles of face-time, clock watching and the like. Face-to-face meetings could be used for real relationship building.

    Of course this 3 legged stool would have to include performance management (the holy grail of expectations + feedback) and dare I say it trust. If we think that the people we hired are out there to screw us by not working hard, then why did we hire them in the first place?

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