Increasing working demands are reflected by many managers putting in longer and longer hours, but is more time needed or a way of working more effectively? Is utilizing managerial energy a better response to increased demand for results than simply investing more time in a project?
There is a fundamental flaw in the reasoning that more time spent on a project will net greater results. This is fallacious reasoning as there are only so many hours in the day, and in any event, peak performance cannot be achieved unless there is a properly managed cycle of exercise and rest. Where ROI can be more directly influenced is by managing the expenditure of energy on a project so that tasks are completed to the standard required within the timeframe allotted, and if anything, by reducing the time available for a work task rather than increasing it.
What makes managing energy difficult? The answer is typically found in how many managers and workers alike are present, but not engaged. This is akin to the adage that 'the lights are on but no-one is home', and we see this at all levels in almost all organizations. This is sometimes referred to as 'presenteeism', which occurs where an employee turns up for work but is not focused on achieving the tasks in front of them.
Does this happen to managers, even senior ones who are leading an organization? The answer is 'yes', and indeed, the more senior an executive, the easy it is to hide their disengagement from work tasks, not least because there is no-one else around to question their leadership or level of engagement to begin with. It can be very lonely at the top, but focusing on enhancing managerial engagement, and therefore energy, is a far easier ROI win than simply investing in longer working hours.
Long working hours ultimately lead to degradation in the ability to perform; in the ability to direct energy and focus at work tasks and challenges. In modern business situations, it is a key strength to be able to identify and act upon new opportunities and emerging threats, however a key requirement is the ability to think, to act decisively and to take advantage of changing situations. This is not feasible if managers are fatigued from long working hours where they are not totally engaged to begin with.
We can change our attitude by understanding that energy and the ability to apply it is the real ingredient for peak performance. By skillfully applying energy where and when it is required, we can achieve the greatest results for the least expenditure of effort - this means we must concentrate on managing energy, not simply time, to achieve the very best managerial results.
The real question to ask yourself is whether you are truly engaged at work or whether you are simply going through the motions. Being engaged for a normal working day is a far more productive and effective means of achieving results (and ROI) than simply hanging around the office putting in the hours, without your brain engaged. By being engaged, you become increasingly motivated, able to withstand distractions better and remain sharply focused on achieving your business goals and objectives. So are you 'present' or are you 'engaged' - be sure you are the latter before you consider spending more time at the office when you should be recharging your energy.
Jason Hindle recommends http://www.ArdenCoaching.com New York's leading executive coach and provider of leadership training for managers in NYC. Tailored solutions (see http://www.ardencoaching.com/approach) are available for senior executives and business leaders looking to develop their skills to take them and their businesses to the next level.
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