Most offices have the superhuman employee. Sometimes whole companies are made of these working-a-million-hours-always-taking-on-more-ever-so-committed people. Are you one of the superhumans? Are you requiring others to be?
This topic is on my mind a lot right now for several reasons. For the past two weeks, I've been bombarded with articles, videos, and conversations on this subject. It's to the point of being eerie. Have you been reading a lot about this as well? Additionally, this topic resonates with me because I certainly wrestle with the inclination to try to be superhuman. I'm working a lot now on addressing that because I know it's not healthy for me or my family. I also do not I do my best work under these circumstances, which means it's not fair to my clients.
The first nudge on this topic was this article on 60-hour work weeks that my friends at Dress for Success Indianapolis shared. It's short and I found it hard-hitting. If we are working 60-hour work weeks, SOMETHING IS WRONG. I don't know how many times I've said that phrase to myself lately. I love that the article talks about the prospect that maybe our job is ill-designed and resources are limited...it's not just pointing a finger at being a perfectionist or workaholic (although those can be issues, too).
I write about this today because I had a unexpected conversation with a friend this morning on this subject. She is at the end of her rope with work, and understandably so. I have seen her manage a tremendous amount of activity and stress, but something is different now and it looks to me like a lot of it goes back to organizational matters. The expectations and demands on her are unreasonable, the resources for success are not being made available, and the working culture appears to expect a lot of superhuman efforts. This is not a recipe for sustainable success. The employer is on the verge of losing a brilliant and passionate team member. Have you been in this place? Are you in this place? Are your employees?
This situation is a great example of one where there is no quick fix. Rather, there needs to be thoughtful exploration my multiple parties of the situation. What are the root causes? There are likely multiple contributors. What has led to this? Likely, no one set out to create or take on the job from hell. What is the broad impact on the business and clients?
If you're functioning as a superhuman and it doesn't feel good to you, I hope you'll take time to step back and reflect on what's going on. Engage others to help you look at the situation. Be brave in going to your boss or team or colleagues and saying, "This isn't in anyone's best interest. We gotta look at what's happening. Here are my initial thoughts." And if you're an employer and see this happening, I hope you'll take a hard look at what's going on.
Working through this process of examination and change can be scary because it may feel like a declaration of weakness or failure on some part. However, it's actually some of the most bold, smart, strategic work we can do. These conversations can also build trust in meaningful ways among colleagues. Are you ready for a change? On your mark. Get set. Go!