The culture of working harder
It is a common misconception that working harder is the best thing to do. We think that those who work hard the most should get the promotion and that the one who goes home early is lazy and irresponsible. It has become a workplace culture. The length of overtime rendered became the new measure of a good employee. From my previous post, you will know that this is bad to both the company and the employee. Also, working hard is not enough in order to get that promotion. You have to work smart also.
Mr. Hardy and Mr. Smarty
Now let me tell you a story. A lousy one at that since I am a terrible storyteller (*cries in the corner). Two employees were stuck in an abandoned building (don’t ask me why and how, that’s not the point). Later on, they heard their boss calling for help. As they both want to get a promotion, they each decided that they would rescue him on his own.
They were in an enclosed bare room, no door and window, with only one axe. The first employee (Let us call him Hardy), the more aggressive of the two rushed to get the axe and started hitting the thick wall. The second employee (Let us call him Smarty) on the other hand calmly sat down. Hardy went mad cos while he was working his ass out, Smarty was chill. Smarty started walking around the room as if he was on a painting exhibit. Hardy though annoyed at his colleague focused on what he was doing. Later on, he was able to tear a hole on his side of the wall. He triumphantly called his mate only to realize that Smarty was long gone. Smarty already found a hidden mechanism in the wall and used it to open a passage that leads to their boss.
Now, who worked harder? –Hardy of course.
Who do you think got the promotion? Yes, you are right. Smarty.
Misconception of Laziness
You see, Top management are output-oriented. Most of the time, they are oblivious to what is going on behind the scene. Therefore, you need to do something to make your work easier while producing the same result. Now Hardy is naturally upset by Smarty’s promotion. You see, common workplace culture deems Smarty as lazy. When in fact, all he did was work efficiently.
Now what did Smarty really do? He took the time to think and assess the situation. By listening to where his boss is calling from and from carefully inspecting the walls, he found the mechanism that opens the hidden passage. He took the time to think outside the box and this lead him to a solution.
Smarty’s method was not laziness. It was efficiency. Laziness is knowing what to do and not doing it. Efficiency on the other hand is doing something the easiest and fastest way.
Working Hard and Working Smart
Now imagine if Hardy and Smarty were to be trapped in another room again. This time there are no hidden mechanism. Would they survive? Yes, only if they work together. Working hard is a good thing only when paired with working smart. You have to know where you are going in order for your work to be meaningful. Working hard is more like paddling hard, while working smart directing where the boat is going. It is not wise to exhaust ourselves for nothing. We have to work smart in order to avoid burnout. It is time we learn the Work-Smart culture (we will talk about this on my next post.)