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Adapt to your boss' working hours

Hello guys,

some time ago I spoke about how staying late at work was considered that you’re a good employee. Where I work at least.

Lucio commented that it is the case in most workplaces. I don’t know but I think it resembles my experience of workplaces. Most workplaces are average by definition. So they function like other workplaces.

At first I rebelled against this idea for 2 reasons:

1. It’s stupid. At the end of the day 6-7pm we don’t have much energy and concentration left so productivity is low. That’s why in work-obsessed cultures like the US or Japan, people stay late at work without being more productive than in other countries. It’s a lose-lose strategy.
2. I am a morning person: I’m more efficient in the morning.

However, after having heard a 3rd person (executive level this time) tell me: « in case you’re gone tell the nightshift person to... »

I understood something: somehow I got the reputation of the guy who “already went home”. It does not matter how many times I came early 1 hour or 2 hours before starting work. What matters is how late you stay.

So, being the learner, I adapt and now I stay longer at work. It’s stupid but that is what is expected of me. Unspoken rule.

Any similar experience?

Cheers!

Yep.  Expectation of project managers is days r for meetings and politics.  Nights r for getting your work done.  Execs r same.  Might be worth going in early a couple of days see if execs r around.  Some work the other end.  If they re the right execs that might solve your problem.

Yeah, I'm afraid it might be human nature to (also) judge people by work hours.

Imagine you're a boss, and two people in your team have the exact same output.
But with one, you arrive at work, and 80% of the time he's there, and he's 80% of the time there by the time you leave.

Another one, it's the opposite.

The fact that you see him there at both the beginning and end of the day automatically enters the brain's computation as "added benefit" and "team player".
To not to do so, it would take a rational being that goes against the bias. But as we know, few people ever challenge their biases and their "default" way of brain functioning.

MORNINGS VS EVENINGS

But what if one is 80% there early, and the other one 80% there late?

Then, like T says, it depends on the manager / exec, and it's a smart political move to adapt to the boss.

When your boss is neither a morning or late evening person, but more around the average, I suspect that late evenings carry more weight.
As a matter of fact, I suspect that late evening carry more weight in general.

This is because:

  1. Most issues are usually dealt with as they come up during the day, meaning you fix them by staying late, rather than  going early (so the guy who stays ends up being more present, and more often, when the team needs most help)
  2. The early day feels like "I'm coming early, doing my job, and then see you fuckers, the evening is all for me"
  3. The late-day has more of a feel of "sacrificing" for the team

The last two are more cultural, since people usually meet with friends in the evening, not in the morning, so it feels like you're "sacrificing" more for the team, which by social exchange also means "giving more" (you increase the debt of the receiver).

THE FALLACY OF REMOTE WORK FOR CAREER

It's also a question of rapport.

The more time you have overlapping with your supervisors, the more you can create rapport / friendship.

And it's the reason why the people who are all jubilant about the "work form home thing" are usually not the guys who are going to have great careers, or be the future C-suite people.

To have a great career, be promoted, and acquire power and status, you need face time.
Sure, if you do great work, you can get promoted even remotely. But if there is someone else who does the same good work (or even almost as good), but he's present in person and and has good enough ("good enough" is enough, not even "great" is necessary) in-person relationship with the boss... then 99% of the time the guy who shows up wins.


P.S.: John, OK for you if I change this to "adapt to your boss working hours"? I'd like to move it to the "proven" strategies since it's a very good thread.

John Freeman has reacted to this post.
John Freeman
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Oh, and of course, there's also the power dynamics element.

More time overlap with the boss is (or feels) empowering to the boss.
He has his report/ally in the team by his side, ready to help and support him (power-positive).

The person who does his own thing at his own time instead feels like he's removing himself from the reach of his power and authority (power-negative).

People want to feel empowered of course, and the person who's present empowers them more.
The person who's away disempowers them.

This is why bosses often don't appreciate to see their reports come and go at their own time: it feels disempowering to them (and, to the more power-craving bosses, it feels like an affront to their power and authority).

John Freeman has reacted to this post.
John Freeman
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

The fact that you see him there at both the beginning and end of the day automatically enters the brain's computation as "added benefit" and "team player".

It seems logical as you explain it. I missed this one, it's helpful, thanks.

As a matter of fact, I suspect that late evening carry more weight in general.

This is because:

  1. Most issues are usually dealt with as they come up during the day, meaning you fix them by staying late, rather than  going early (so the guy who stays ends up being more present, and more often, when the team needs most help)
  2. The early day feels like "I'm coming early, doing my job, and then see you fuckers, the evening is all for me"
  3. The late-day has more of a feel of "sacrificing" for the team

The last two are more cultural, since people usually meet with friends in the evening, not in the morning, so it feels like you're "sacrificing" more for the team, which by social exchange also means "giving more" (you increase the debt of the receiver).

All this is true. Number 2, is almost how I think about it: the difference is that I wake up early to study pediatrics and power university. So it's important that I go to bed early otherwise I cannot have this time to improve. And I end up in the loop like everyone else: you work a lot but you don't upgrade your mindsets.

And it's the reason why the people who are all jubilant about the "work form home thing" are usually not the guys who are going to have great careers, or be the future C-suite people.

I agree.

To have a great career, be promoted, and acquire power and status, you need face time.
Sure, if you do great work, you can get promoted even remotely. But if there is someone else who does the same good work (or even almost as good), but he's present in person and and has good enough ("good enough" is enough, not even "great" is necessary) in-person relationship with the boss... then 99% of the time the guy who shows up wins.

It makes sense, that is the difference between my colleague and I. She's there a lot of the time but she's not efficient at all. She just spends a lot of time at work. She does not always understand the logic behind the work, but she does it anyway. So she's more like an obedient self-sacrificing person. I'm more the independent thinker type.

More time overlap with the boss is (or feels) empowering to the boss.
He has his report/ally in the team by his side, ready to help and support him (power-positive).

The person who does his own thing at his own time instead feels like he's removing himself from the reach of his power and authority (power-negative).

People want to feel empowered of course, and the person who's present empowers them more.
The person who's away disempowers them.

This is why bosses often don't appreciate to see their reports come and go at their own time: it feels disempowering to them (and, to the more power-craving bosses, it feels like an affront to their power and authority).

It makes sense. My (semi-) independence is not helpful in this case.

P.S.: John, OK for you if I change this to "adapt to your boss working hours"? I'd like to move it to the "proven" strategies since it's a very good thread.

Yes, it's ok. It's better, thanks for the correction.

All in all, you helped me to open my eyes to an uncomfortable truth: I'll have to stay late and wake up early. This is doable. All I have to do is more disciplined and go to bed as soon as I come home. But this also pushes me towards nordic european countries where going home early is the norm. I want to do great things but what is proposed to me right now feels more like a waste of time than a real time investment to grow my skills. That is one of the reasons I want to move out: I feel like I spend a lot of time at work not to do much work and I don't feel like I'm learning a lot. And this feels stupid to me.

Also, I want to do some research but where I live I'm supposed to do it in my free time (!!!) and this I'm not willing to do anymore. In Academia, they make you work for free. Healthcare is like Academia. The issue is that you give a lot of your time for little rewards. You end up having a poor private life and what you give in exchange is not really worth it. That's my current experience.

Anyway, I made a mistake and now I learned from it.

Edit: do you think it's a good idea to have a rule-of-thumb such as: "I'm not going home before my boss"? Apart from social events of course.

All in all, you helped me to open my eyes to an uncomfortable truth: I'll have to stay late and wake up early. This is doable. All I have to do is more disciplined and go to bed as soon as I come home.

Great learning, but consider that it does not necessarily follow that you have to stay late.

You can also consider the option of "paying the price".

Such as, you do your job, and you "pay the political price".
In your case, if you're not planning to stay there, the political price is quite small. The chances you'll see these people again in the future, and that they will matter much for you is low/very low.

Once you choose that road, you can also think of how to minimize the costs.
For example:

  • Talk to your boss officially about your waking hours
  • Say you're doing research on the side and that unluckily in the evening you must go at a certain hour
  • Drop hints about "this thing you're doing on the side", so that instead of becoming "John leaves early who knows for what", it becomes "John leaves early as he's got this thing he's doing"

From what I see on the outside, I'd personally advise you this second option

BTW, quick off-topic: do you get Covid vaccine early as a doctor, John?
I was asking around if there were ways to get it early, but I discovered that: one, it's not possible, and two, there seem to be a whole class of people who are refusing to get the vaccine even if they can/should do it (feel free to open a new topic for this if you want to go deeper on it).

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

The thing is that in my line of work, you never know. I think I will work in the same specialty as the rotation I'm currently in. So they will be future colleagues. But I don't think I want to stay in this town. My country is so small that it has the village effect: your reputation must be impeccable. That is why gossip is such a powerful dark side tool in these environments. But I disgress.

I was not clear: I'm not doing research on the side for the reason that I'm already very tired and don't have much free time. So I don't want to work EVEN MORE. They proposed me to give me "free time" as in we're not paying you for 3-6 months while you're doing research. So I think they're lunatics. They're not offering me a good deal. At all. They over-value their proposition and they under-value me.

So I have 1 month left there. I will not pay the political price, it might be too costly for reputation matters. I will rather double my efforts for the month that is left to do. That being said, thank you for helping me considering the option of paying the political price and the mitigations of it. I'll keep that in mind.

To answer you about Covid: we are the 2nd priority of population that will get the vaccines after old people. 1. Old people and people at risk. 2. Healthcare workers. 3. General population. Yes, it's true: many people (in rich countries) are resistant. And in healthcare workers, it's the nurses who are the most skeptical about vaccines. It's a way for them to rebel against authority I believe. It's a covert power move, if you will: "Based on my professional knowledge, I'm a skeptic". But really: "I don't want to do what the doctors tell me to do if I can refuse it (liberty of choice), because (I don't like them and) I'm tired to do what they tell me." We always have quite a few of these at the hospital around.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Only 1 month is left in the current workplace.
So the following is not really applicable.
I thought that it would be an interesting point to discuss in general.

To have a great career, be promoted, and acquire power and status, you need face time.
Sure, if you do great work, you can get promoted even remotely. But if there is someone else who does the same good work (or even almost as good), but he's present in person and and has good enough ("good enough" is enough, not even "great" is necessary) in-person relationship with the boss... then 99% of the time the guy who shows up wins.

It makes sense, that is the difference between my colleague and I. She's there a lot of the time but she's not efficient at all. She just spends a lot of time at work. She does not always understand the logic behind the work, but she does it anyway. So she's more like an obedient self-sacrificing person. I'm more the independent thinker type.

Are the results of good medical knowledge and good practice highly visible in hospitals?

If the results are highly visible, it may be possible to pay the short-term political price while delivering results in the long-term.
Another consideration is whether the boss values this result.
Does practising good medical care in the hospital make life easier for your direct boss or contribute to his political interests?

I'm not familiar with the political climate of hospitals.
Sharing my thoughts as a third party.

The thing is that in my line of work, you never know. I think I will work in the same specialty as the rotation I'm currently in. So they will be future colleagues. But I don't think I want to stay in this town. My country is so small that it has the village effect: your reputation must be impeccable. That is why gossip is such a powerful dark side tool in these environments. But I disgress.

This seems to touch upon an important point Lucio brought up here:
Cultures with less manipulation/narcissism

Reputation and status are such important factors in small ponds.
Especially isolated small ponds with a lack of interaction with external ponds.
This makes gossip and other forms of manipulation more pervasive.

Personally, I hate playing the career and corporate game.
But I remind myself of how playing this game helps me with my longer-term goals.

All in all, you helped me to open my eyes to an uncomfortable truth: I'll have to stay late and wake up early. This is doable. All I have to do is more disciplined and go to bed as soon as I come home. But this also pushes me towards nordic european countries where going home early is the norm. I want to do great things but what is proposed to me right now feels more like a waste of time than a real time investment to grow my skills. That is one of the reasons I want to move out: I feel like I spend a lot of time at work not to do much work and I don't feel like I'm learning a lot. And this feels stupid to me.

I was working in a job where I was spending all my time navigating around nasty bosses and playing politics.
I felt that I was not spending enough time learning as well.
And the management kept wondering why the attrition rate was so high.
I decided to work the minimum hours to get by and spend the rest of the time learning to find other opportunities.

Also, I want to do some research but where I live I'm supposed to do it in my free time (!!!) and this I'm not willing to do anymore. In Academia, they make you work for free. Healthcare is like Academia. The issue is that you give a lot of your time for little rewards. You end up having a poor private life and what you give in exchange is not really worth it. That's my current experience.

Would opening up your own clinic be a feasible option?

This seems similar to investment banking, the legal sector, and management consulting.
Where the senior people use their power to pay little and extract a lot of time from people joining the company.
This is only in exchange for career progression to reach a more senior level where work hours are more manageable, pay is better and there is more general freedom.

Edit: do you think it's a good idea to have a rule-of-thumb such as: "I'm not going home before my boss"? Apart from social events of course.

In quite a few Asian countries like Japan, this is a really good rule-of-thumb.
You suddenly see a domino effect down the hierarchy of people leaving the office in the evenings.
At the same time, people spend so much time in the office that many die there.

Matthew: I decided to work the minimum hours to get by and spend the rest of the time learning to find other opportunities.

I think it's a smart choice.
Once you realize your future is not there, and that you're not learning much, then it makes sense to cut back the investment to the minimum.

Our minds are still used to think in a way that treats our little ponds as if they lasted all our lives, but they don't. Our modern lives are more like a string of different ponds, and sometimes (or often) they have little relation to each other.
So until you end up in a pond of your liking that you decide to make your own sea, then it makes sense to be more rational -and more "ruthless"- about how much time and emotional investment you are going to put in it.

 

Matthew Whitewood and John Freeman have reacted to this post.
Matthew WhitewoodJohn Freeman
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I'll read with more attention your replies later, excuse me. I practiced today staying at work instead of going home, napping and then working from home. So then my supervisor (I like her so far, I think she's honest, we'll see) told me: "what are you doing here?" I said: "I'm writing a letter. I'm almost finished". Her: "I thought you went home. I don't even know when you're supposed to finish (on an official holiday)." Me: "2:15pm (it was 2:15 pm)"

So, it does work. Thank you Lucio, I'll be doing this for the last month to see if I get a better reputation.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano
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