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There are a few things that I find irritating at work, and most of these revolve around time. The lack of respect for other people’s time, wasting time via make-work projects, and most of all, stinginess with time. By stinginess I mean that greedy type of person who clocks in at 9:00 a.m. sharp and clocks out right at 6:00 p.m. Or that person who nickels and dimes the company for a weekend there, or an evening here. Nickel and diming doesn’t always mean billing the company for extra hours, it can also be in the form of emotional taxation- like when you bring up those extra hours in a whiney, pity party voice. Don’t get me wrong, I think everyone has a right to their free time and it’s healthy to switch off, but when you are needed to pull a weekend with your team, you are needed. There really is no two ways about it.
I especially dislike people who forget that senior positions (and entrepreneurial endeavors) require much more of a time commitment than the average admin position. If you think that putting in 10 hours of overtime makes you super special, then perhaps you should consider a less challenging career. Shift work, like at a fast food restaurant or at a clothing boutique of some sort, might suit you better because you have set hours and you’re not obligated to complete a stack of paperwork and respond to an inbox full of emails when your shift is over. You shouldn’t consider upper management jobs in any of those fields either, because those senior positions will require overtime as well- you’re the boss and you’ve gotta get it done. When I was a child, we were taught that those types of industries, service industries, were called the tertiary sector. (I’m not sure if that term is still in use.) There’s no shortage of jobs in those arenas, so next time you are having a “poor me” moment, consider the switch to a junior level client-facing service position. Then I think you’ll be “poor me”-ing (rightfully so) on a much grander scale after trying to placate the general public for eight hours straight. (This is coming from personal experience- I have worked long and hard in a few service sectors, and I know how difficult it can be to please a crazy customer.)
This brings me to my next point: if you don’t realize how fortunate you are to have a career, consider people who are locked out of a position like yours due to lack of skillset, lack of education or lack of advantageously positioned connections. When I hear people complaining about working overtime, I stifle the urge to remind them how truly lucky they are to have made it that far up the corporate ladder. Many of these big complainers are woefully unqualified; that makes it that much harder for me to keep my opinion to myself. I think this all ties into being sloppy and/or lazy. If you are not meticulous in your duties, it suggests that you have the “poor me” overtime attitude. To me, sloppiness indicates that you think that being out the door at 6:00 p.m. is more important than presenting respectable work.
To those of you indulging in the pity party, spend an extra 15 minutes at the office every day, clean up your mess so that no one else is stuck with it, appreciate the fact that someone believed in you enough to appoint you to a senior position, only put forward work that you are really proud of, and finally, take your ego out of the equation and get your unattractive laziness in check. Then you will know, on an intrinsic level, what dignity feels like.