Sharing is always good!

A while back I pondered the work-life balance in Work-Life Balance. Is technology tipping the scales? — and now it is at the forefront on Mashable, CNN.com (and here is another opinion from CNN.com on the same subject), and Makers.com. I would like to say it was my humble opinion that brought it to the forefront– but alas, it wasn’t — it was Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg saying it on video at Makers.com:

“I walk out of this office every day at 5:30 so I’m home for dinner with my kids at 6, and interestingly, I’ve been doing that since I had kids,”

A tech job and you leave by 5:30?? Everyone grab your organizationally-driven motivating quotes! We have a lazy employee!

“You need a strong work ethic to make it anywhere…”
“You need to put your time in to get ahead.”
“If you feel your work is done…”
“Interesting.”

Oh, you’re a COO…at company with a $100 billion valuation and an upcoming IPO…

I am not going to rehash my thoughts from my earlier post — but if you don’t have time to read it — the short is that I support Ms. Sandberg in what she said (and did/does) and I think it is great that someone at her level came out and said it. She frames it inside her role as a parent, but it applies to everyone: Just because I can (be working all day) doesn’t mean I should.

Pete Cashmore over at Mashable gets it too (from Why it’s OK to leave a tech job at 5 p.m.):

Ultimately, I think the measure of our work is in our productivity, not the number of hours we put in.

I couldn’t agree more — if you are equating hours worked with employee productivity and thereby value then I think you not only missed the boat but you still can’t see the shore. In that theory, if I was baling hay and I was able to make 300 bales in 2 hours while the person next to me did exactly the same in 10 hours — the person doing 300 bales in ten hours would be considered the better worker according to the time=productivity standard.

Naysayers, I know it is not that simple, but I do want to offer the counter argument that a lot of the time — it IS that simple. And the funny part of the whole thing is that it it really isn’t total volume of hours that are being judged — just those that are visible and typically at the end of the day.

My two main points are simple:

  1. Work hours do not productive employee make. Sometimes long hours are necessary, but there has to be a line somewhere. Being efficient shouldn’t be detrimental to my career and on the side of the employer, shouldn’t mean I get to put in a four hour day either.
  2. As a dad, I have a responsibility to my son. The long term effects of absentee parenting are not fully understood and just because he can’t spout time-weary cliches doesn’t mean the responsibility is any less important. A successful career shouldn’t require being a failed parent.

So, thank you Ms. Sandberg for bringing something to light that has been bothering me in this digital age. I say that with sincerity and not sarcasm. There are more factors to gauging employee effectiveness than simple “time served” (which is a notion that seems to stem from the other wonderful idea that “since I had to do it, so should you”) and I hope this conversation continues.

Sharing is always good!