I advise young founding CEOs, either in my role as interim COO or as a “CEO Coach.” A common issue they raise is their frustration with an employee who does not work incredibly long hours. I struggled with this until I recalled that, when I was their age, I felt the same way! I’ve been managing since I was 23 and, for about a decade, I too was impressed with an employee who worked the longest hours.
But then I hired Chris Pooley and he taught me that efficiency was more important than hours. Chris was upfront with his intention to focus on efficiency, not time. And he was right; Chris was a star performer and he went on to a very successful career.
Since then, I’ve focused on teaching young people how to be more efficient with their time; how to develop techniques and processes that allow them to get more work done in less time. And I encourage them to spend those extra few hours enjoying a life outside of work.
Yes, I agree that in a startup everyone needs to work long hours. But I encourage founding CEOs to appreciate an employee who gets more work done in less time vs. an employee who works long hours, but isn’t efficient.
Am I always able to convince the founding CEO of my view? Usually. But I have my work cut out for me when the CEO himself is a “long hours but inefficient” person!