To report early at work or not? becoming an outlier in office

It is easy to be recognized as exceptional performer. One of the middle managers at an international company in my private mentorship program called and said “I am concerned that my supervisor is trying to manage me as if we are still in the 1980’s”. This took me by surprise. I asked him to clarify to which he said that “my boss wants me to report to work earlier than 7:30am. He thinks that way I am very committed and working harder. Yet, my challenge is I love football. Whenever there is a late-night match, for which they have been several these days, I sleep late. Also, let me admit it: I cannot go to bed before mid-night.

This means, I report late at work, sometimes at 9:30am. To my supervisor, I am the weakest link. I don’t like the business. And therefore, I cannot be trusted. Truth be told: I love the company so much and I love my job. Sometimes I prefer to work late in the evenings on company work than going to bed early. I have explained to my supervisor but to no avail. How can I get him to trust me that late coming does not mean low productivity?”

Put yourself in my shoes. How would you advise such a person?

Any employee should understand that running a business has attendant costs. As a staff on the payroll, the company must pay you every hour of the month. That is huge cost to the business. To survive as well as grow, the company must make more money from you than it pays you.

If you are a manager earning Ugx. 1,500,000 gross per month. This means the company must pay out this money whether you come early or late to work. You work only 25 days a month; excluding holidays. In a month like March 2018, where we had two public holidays – Women’s Day (Tuesday 8th) and Good Friday (29th March); the company spent Ugx. 1,500,000 divided by 25 working days per day = Ugx. 60,000 per day or Ugx. 7,500 per hour.

As an employee or business partner; you have ‘to be and be seen to be’ adding value to the business. That means your hourly direct payroll costs should be lower than your hourly contribution to the business revenue; regardless of your department. You are either saving the company money or making more sales.

There are usually three categories of roles:

  1. Those that require people to come early – eg. Administration or operations roles (eyes, legs and hands on 24/7). For example, if your work is to clean the office, you need to have it ready before people report at work i.e. before 7:00am. You must be at the office by 6:00am so that you have adequate time.
  2. Field based roles– marketing and sales (eyes, legs and hands on, 24/7). You must be in your territory/ sales area in time to make the sales effort; and provide ongoing reports to your manager/ director in time.
  3. Leadership roles (eyes on, 24/7). The people who identify the top 2-5 areas to focus on at each management level, to provide clarity of direction.

Your job should fit among the three categories – Those that require people to come early – eg. Administration or operations roles (eyes, legs and hands on 24/7); Field based roles– marketing and sales (eyes, legs and hands on, 24/7); Leadership roles (eyes on, 24/7).

For those under category 1, it is obvious to keep your job, you must come to work early, and make sure you attain your daily targets.

To add value to the business, you must make sure you exceed your daily work targets since just attaining your targets makes the company break-even. However, if you want a bonus, you need to work over and above! As a hands-on person, to perform you MUST keep time. And when you don’t come to work or keep time, the company must have a system to monitor that fact and don’t pay you for the days missed or for every hour you report late, your salary is reduced by that proportion unless the request to come late was done in writing and in advance.

For category 2; both time keeping, and performance reporting are critical. Because this role is field based, the staff must always be in the field in time. And this is reflected in the performance.

For this reason, the respective managers must:

  1. Provide weekly performance targets to the field teams
  2. Receive daily reports from the field teams. And where this is not possible, obtain weekly reports from the field teams.
  3. Where the performance is below par, the staff must provide clear reasons for having not achieved targets.

For category 3, you must lead by example. When you can, be very early at the office, and keep your direct reports about your priorities, upcoming meetings and key focus areas.

For example, TMT members must communicate to one another about the priorities of the company; and who is doing what, their upcoming appointments, travels etc… so that appropriate support is provided. The same level of transparency is expected of managers in the same directorate; and throughout the company.

For the managers reporting directly to you, make sure each is aware of how you will evaluate their performance on a daily/ weekly/ bi-weekly/ monthly/ quarterly/ bi-annually and annually. The assistant manager or supervisor should brief his team of the daily production targets; against which their daily performance is assessed. Likewise, the manager must use the available meeting forums to communicate the focus areas in the scorecard to the respective managers so that there is clarity of responsibility.

This provides a basis for on-going performance management.

Back to the challenge posed to me by my mentee. Whenever, your boss asks you for your timesheet or report, it is a sign that they are wondering whether you are adding value or not. It is a sign that you are no longer being visible.

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