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> Respect Your Time, Respect My Time
Ben Higgins
post Dec 30 2014, 11:36 AM
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"Let people know exactly how much time they're being asked to give. Once they've given it, don't try to take more."

Taken from Zen 24/7 by Philip Toshio Sudo

A few days ago, I had a random flashback to an old job I had which got me thinking about the idea of people respecting or not respecting our time. The quote above was taken from a writing about business meetings but it applies beautifully for anything where an exchange of time for service or attention is occurring.

I had a couple of jobs over the years where there were no clear distinct lines about when to have a lunch break or even a definite cut-off time to say the work was done and that it was cool to go home. The reason there weren't any clear lines was because the employers were either offering casual work or because they didn't want to run the kind of place that was 'strict' or 'formal'. Now I don't have a problem with those aspects, especially the first but it does lead to some potential problems.

If nobody knows where the lines are, how do you know when you've crossed it ?

For example, I was told that I should be the judge of when I should have a lunch break yet was still unsure exactly when it was ok to do so. How does one exactly gauge the boss's internal head space ? Good mood, bad mood ? If I go now, am I taking him at his word and he won't have a problem or should I wait until later and miss out just because he seems overworked ?

It was also said that they weren't keen to stick to exact times, for example, leaving at 5.30pm exactly. Some days you might leave at 5.35pm or 6pm maybe. The reasons given was that they didn't want us to see it as 'just a job'. Reading between the lines what this actually meant was "I hope that you'll regularly stay longer than you have to."

It may seem like a really relaxed work setting to have but it's one of those situations where you get a nagging feeling that they want you to be doing something else but are just not saying it. This in turn leads you to question your own actions which in turn just wastes energy and leads to possible resentments (ie. the boss resenting you for not giving them something that only they know they want) that could have been avoided if the employer would just stick to a set timetable so nobody could accidentally p*** them off by not being able to read their mind !

In trying to avoid timetables and set lines, some people ironically end up causing more problems and resentment because they don't set out exactly what they want. In trying to be 'relaxed' about time, the employer often ends up taking more precious time from their employees because their employees don't want to risk offending their employers. So they give more out of a sense of misguided loyalty or obligation. And we know what happens then. The employer sees this and realises that they can start to ask even more of the employee, asking them to go above and beyond the call of duty even more than ever.

See also: Office Space - brilliant movie.

Even though it was many years ago since I had those jobs I still remember how awkward it was to try to fit into a role where the expectations were much greater than what the job entailed. Time is all we truly have. To waste your own time is bad enough. To waste the time of others is worse. So I guess the point of this random trip down memory lane is that rules, lines and timetables are not always there just to seem strict and controlling but they also let people know exactly when they're needed and how long for. It also stops people from annoying, disappointing or offending others. If we know where the lines are, we can adhere to them (or not !?)

How about you guys ? Have you ever been in similar situations and how did you deal with them ?


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Darius Wave
post Dec 30 2014, 09:12 PM
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Having lines or being able to set them by yourself can also bring a psychical comfort. I can understand a type of situation You mentioned cause "I've been there" too...at least few times. It's a clever trick for the boss who offers You virtually less responsible job but in fact expect to get more than he pays for. That really sucks. Unfortunately it is really hard to earn some good money in a valuablel job since those who afford to pay more, avoid to do this explaning things the easiest way "It's a crisis and every one get's same low payment. Take the job or leave it".

Also....people do not appreciate work of others that much so we all are partly to blame for the situation...we might not be concious about what exactly do we do to make this whole "machine" run.


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Bossie
post Dec 31 2014, 08:11 AM
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Sounds familiar...i work in a similar situation. And yes we have a lot of freedom at our workplace, no fixed lunchbreaks so you eat or have a snack when you want to. We can use the internet as we wish, we can go outside to reflect on other things and even chat with other people at work or do other random stuff.
Ofcours you can abuse this or feel uncertain about those priviliges....how far you can take em?

Therefore as a teamleader i always point out what we want to achieve that day and what needs to be done that day...i do this at the beginning of the day. I never give my people the feeling that i control them every minute of the day..i just point out the highlights and let them do their daily routine in their own pace.

They can do whatever they want that day but ...what i have told them at the beginning of the day needs to be done!
This works fine ...and ofcours i check regularly if everything is being taken care of at the end of the day.....usually it's ok
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Ben Higgins
post Dec 31 2014, 10:06 AM
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Cheers for the insights, guys.... I think we all know what these types of situations feel like smile.gif


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SirJamsalot
post Jan 2 2015, 12:31 AM
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I adhere to the same mentality as Walt Disney - he (and I) was of the mindset that you hire professionals to do a job. Your expectation as a manager is that a professional knows how to get the job done, so your responsibility is to line up the work, tell the workers to get it done, then act as a liason between the client and the worker, but you don't sit there inspecting their every move - micromanagement kills a profesisonal interest in working - they will suffer mentally, and then leave.

Because you are a professional, you should know how to manage your own time. Wanna take a lunch break - go for it. Wanna take 2 lunch breaks - go for it. Just get it done.

If your job requires a week to do, manage your time so it gets done. There should be no mentality of "have to quit at 5:00 pm exactly" because that's just unrealistic. You end up with people standing at the punch-out clock for 15 minutes waiting for the 5:00 pm to roll around. Jobs don't adhere to strict time lines. It took me 17 minutes to update a website. The portion I had to update would take 3 hours. I'm not gong to start a portion of a job I can't finish neatly, so I save the 3 hours for the next day and leave early. That's just how it works the real world.

So. Manage your own time, is what I tell my team. Just get it done. If you feel you need a strict guideline to know when you're supposed to start and finish, then write one yourself and stick to it. I'm not your mother wink.gif I'm responsible for getting a job done, and I hired you because I think you have what it takes to get it done. So go gettem tiger.

smile.gif

Chris


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Ben Higgins
post Jan 2 2015, 11:51 AM
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QUOTE (SirJamsalot @ Jan 2 2015, 12:31 AM) *
Because you are a professional, you should know how to manage your own time. Wanna take a lunch break - go for it. Wanna take 2 lunch breaks - go for it. Just get it done.

If your job requires a week to do, manage your time so it gets done. There should be no mentality of "have to quit at 5:00 pm exactly" because that's just unrealistic. You end up with people standing at the punch-out clock for 15 minutes waiting for the 5:00 pm to roll around. Jobs don't adhere to strict time lines. It took me 17 minutes to update a website. The portion I had to update would take 3 hours. I'm not gong to start a portion of a job I can't finish neatly, so I save the 3 hours for the next day and leave early. That's just how it works the real world.

So. Manage your own time, is what I tell my team. Just get it done. If you feel you need a strict guideline to know when you're supposed to start and finish, then write one yourself and stick to it. I'm not your mother wink.gif I'm responsible for getting a job done, and I hired you because I think you have what it takes to get it done. So go gettem tiger.

smile.gif

Chris


I think it depends on the type of job, though, Chris. I'm not sure exactly what your job entails but I can understand and expect it to work the way you've described. No problems there at all. Personally, for most of what musicians do we have to be self motivated, set out our own goals and work to them. If I'm working for somebody else on a musical project then I'll work my ass off and get it done sooner rather than later. I expect the same back.. we shouldn't need to chase each other up.

But sometimes a job is just a job. Is it realistic for a factory owner to expect his employees to love the company as he does ? To them it's just a job and they shouldn't be expected to give any more than their fair amount of time. In these sort of scenarios I think it's important to set out exactly what is expected, how it works and what they're being asked to do and what they're being paid for. Surely a boss in this case going around hoping that they'll do more out of the love of work is just unrealistic ?

You can never ask somebody to love something of yours as much as you do. You'll always give the most to it, think about it the longest. That's why anybody else being involved has to have a different incentive. That's how most 'donkey work' jobs work. The employers know the workers aren't there out of love, it's the money. So they give them what they want and they give the boss what he wants. Everybody knows where the lines are so they can't and won't cross them.


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