Why You Don’t Want Your Startup Team Working Long Hours

Years ago, I worked for this fellow I nicknamed, “The Michelin Man.” He earned his nickname because the Michelin Man had this annoying habit of sitting with his arms folded when you talked to him, and that made him look like the Michelin Man.

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One of the Michelin Man’s other annoying habits was he liked to walk the hallways late in the day with a little notebook. He was looking to see who was in the office, and who had left the office.

In our Friday staff meetings, the Michelin Man would let us know about certain people in our organization that were “leaving early” in his opinion.

Some of the people that the Michelin Man singled out were the most productive employees I had. It was silly and stupid, but I had to ask employees that were doing a great job to stick around the office.

The singled out employees were rightfully pissed.

You have a choice as a CEO: Do you want to be a clock watcher or a results watcher?

I was usually the first person in the office and I was one of the last people to leave the office. That’s as it should be when you’re a startup CEO.

It was the way I worked best. I could get my work done in the early mornings, and maybe late in the day (It also didn’t hurt that 880 opened up after 7PM, so I could get home quickly). The middle of the day was meetings and helping the team.

All you should ask of your team is that they work hard and work smart.

Having a bunch of people working late to make you feel good does the company no good.

Let’s say you desire a culture where the team regularly works late into the night. You can get what you want, and you can even feel really good about things, but working late doesn’t equal extreme productivity.

In fact, you’re likely to produce another result: burnout.

Running a company is like driving a car. You need to know when to put on the gas, and you need to know when to apply the brakes.

Yeah, I know, you’re running a startup, but a hardworking team needs a break every now and then. If you run your team hard all the time, they will resent you, and they will not be there when you really need them.

So save the inevitable late night and all night grinds for when you need them. Learn to cut your team a little slack every now and then. You might even consider asking your team to go home early every now and then.

Then, when you really need your team to step up, they will have the mental and physical energy to put forth their maximum effort when you need it the most.

For more, read: Can You And Your Team Achieve Work-Life Balance In A Startup?

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I work with startup CEOs to help them grow their businesses . I built several businesses from $0 to >$100M. Learn more at www.brettjfox.com

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