At Agile2016 (in Ron and Chet’s Stalwart session), Chet Hendrickson made a statement that really resonated with me. Before I share it, I want to explore the traditional definition of overtime.
From wikipedia: Overtime is the amount of time someone works beyond normal working hours.
I think this is the widely accepted definition: when you ask about overtime, people think about how many extra hours beyond forty they worked that week, or sometimes beyond eight hours that day.
Then I heard Chet say “Overtime should be defined as being at work when you don’t want to be. That could be 10 a.m. on Tuesday”. Immediately, I laughed and thought…that’s a much better definition!
Let’s explore this:
- There are absolutely times in my career when I was working over 40 hours a week and didn’t consider it overtime. When you are motivated and invested in what you are doing, work doesn’t feel like work. So not only does time tend to fly by, you willingly and actively make a choice to work beyond 40 hours a week.
- There are absolutely times in my career when I was working over 40 hours a week and knew exactly how many hours over each week. Overtime here was mandatory due to the volume of effort required. I may or may not have been motivated and invested but I always felt extremely overwhelmed.
- There are absolutely times in my career when I struggled to get in 40 hours. Typically, I was bored, not motivated and not invested in what we were doing.
I appreciated this viewpoint on overtime, taking the focus way from number of hours to purpose of work.
If we as leaders are not providing the purpose, does discussing the number of hours really matter?