I’m Invested; Why Aren’t They?
When your managers ask why people don’t work long hours, they often think people aren’t “invested” in the organization. One senior executive asked me this question, “I’m invested. Why aren’t the people in my organization as invested as I am?” I asked him if he had open book management. Did people know the purpose of all the projects and where the money went? “No.” I asked him if shared all the profits equally. He looked horrified. “No, of course not. I started this company. I should own more of it. I deserve the sweat equity.”
I asked him why he thought everyone should be as invested as he was. He was keeping the lion’s share of the profits. Why did he think everyone would be as invested as he was?
Now, we all know that people don’t primarily work for money. As Dan Pink explained in Drive, as long as you are paid enough money, you work for mastery, autonomy and purpose. But if the senior managers are tracking time and not results, and they are attempting to reward the technical staff with money, they are not allowing the people to work for mastery. The people don’t have sufficient autonomy. And, I suspect there is inadequate purpose in what people are doing. When I had that conversation, the executive walked away, concerned.
It takes a different kind of investment, doesn’t it?
What’s the Real Problem?
When a manager wants people to work overtime, to feel invested in an organization, what’s the real issue behind the words? It might be that the manager wants people to have the same sense of investment in the organization as the manager does. In that case, it’s useful to ask, am I creating an environment where people feel autonomous? Do they have purpose? Are they mastering their craft?
It might not be that at all. It could be an issue of project portfolio management, where people are spread so thinly around so many projects that they don’t have time for any single project. If so, see if your manager is caught up in the myth of 100 percent utilization.
Sometimes, managers think they can measure people by the time they spend at work. Wanting people to work overtime is related to that myth. When you force people to timebox their work to just the workday, they start making choices about the work they do and don’t do. They stop doing time-wasting work. They start doing useful work, and they start collaborating. But, only if you stop interfering.
Remember, only adults work in your organization. If you want different results, look at the environment you have created. Does it allow for autonomy, mastery, and purpose? If not, what do you need to do?
Read more of Johanna's management myth columns here:
- The Myth of 100% Utilization
- Only the 'Expert' Can Perform This Work
- We Must Treat Everyone the Same Way
- I Don't Need One-on-ones
- We Must Have an Objective Ranking System
- I Can Save Everyone
- I Am Too Valuable to Take a Vacation
- I Can Still Do Significant Technical Work
- We Have No Time for Training
- I Can Measure the Work by the Time People Spend at Work
- The Team Needs a Cheerleader!
- I Must Promote the Best Technical Person to Be a Manager
- I Must Never Admit My Mistakes
- I Must Always Have a Solution to the Problem
- I Need People to Work Overtime
- I Know How Long the Work Should Take
- I Must Solve the Team’s Problem for Them
- I Can Move People Like Chess Pieces
- Management Doesn’t Look Difficult From the Outside, So It Must Be Easy
- I Can Compare Teams (and It’s Valuable to Do So)
- It’s Always Cheaper to Hire People Where the Wages Are Less Expensive
- If You’re Not Typing, You’re Not Working
- You Can Manage Any Number of People as a Manager
- People Don’t Need External Credit
- Performance Reviews Are Usefult
- It's Fine to Micromanage
- We Can Take Hiring Shortcuts
- I Can Standardize How Other People Work
- I Can Concentrate on the Run
- I Am More Valuable than Other People
- I Don’t Have to Make the Difficult Choices
- I Can Treat People as Interchangeable Resources
- We Need a Quick Fix or a Silver Bullet
- You're Empowered Because I Say You Are