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A Senior Manager (SM) has 3 Leads in his team. Person A commits to any work given at any time and is so dedicated that he does overtime as necessary get the work done. Person B & Person C do their work well but are very systematic and procedural. Hence, B & C accept work based on their load and deliver as agreed.

Now the SM expects B & C to work the same as A. Is this expectation correct? If so, who has to change? A, or B and C?

  • Hi Joe, welcome to PMSE. What's the specific management question you'd like to address? – Tiago Cardoso Mar 20 '18 at 12:09
  • @Joe I think I figured out what you were trying to ask and have edited to make it more clear. Feel free to edit further or revert if I didn't hit the mark. – Sarov Mar 20 '18 at 13:14
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it belongs on Workplace site. – Alan Larimer Mar 20 '18 at 13:57
  • This has PM implications. – David Espina Mar 20 '18 at 14:52
  • PM implications could justify a lot of questions remaining open. ;) – Alan Larimer Mar 20 '18 at 16:06
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who has to change?

The Manager...

A, B and C have all been hired for X hours per week. From your description they are all doing that. A just does more on top of that.

There are a few considerations that go beyond what is apparent from your question:

  • It is not unreasonable to expect employees to put in additional work, to help the team/company out of a tight spot.
  • But the ability of each individual worker to do that differs. Not everyone is in place socially, mentally, health-wise where they can keep up with the load your manager would prefer them to take on.
  • Your description also does not specify whether they would be compensated for this additional work or would have the opportunity to take time off later to compensate. If neither of these applies you are effectively short changing your employees on the deal you've made when you hired them.
  • Overtime tends to not be sustainable for most people. Overtime is like a loan. It gets you a substantial increase in funds right now but eventually you'll have to start paying it back. I think most people have - after a while in the workforce - seen someone who exemplifies the difference between working longer and accomplishing more.
  • Your description does not address how much work A, B and C actually get done. It focusses entirely on the fact that A never says no to more work but B and C do. Which might be a poor evaluation of actual performance.
  • This answer did not deserve a negative vote. – David Espina Mar 20 '18 at 15:08
  • Opinion is opinion. Overall I like the answer though it still sounds like output over outcomes. I disagree with "It is not unreasonable to expect employees to put in additional work," even with the later bullet's qualification. – Alan Larimer Mar 21 '18 at 1:57
  • +1 for the loan analogy. I see a lot of organizations that are bankrupt from these loans - most often because they forget about the interest. – Daniel Mar 21 '18 at 14:56
  • @AlanLarimer Maybe "expect" is not the right way to put it. It's more of a cashing in of goodwill with your employees. If you have it you probably never need to ask you if you can expect overtime. If you don't have it you shouldn't be surprised if you are left to hang. – Kempeth Mar 21 '18 at 15:14
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Managers seem to gravitate towards heroic performance because of our collective, albeit unreliable, attachment we have placed on it with superior outcomes. It looks fantastic, so it must follow that fantastic things will come of it.

The problem is heroic performance does not lead to heroic results all the time. It can be costly, risky, and is rarely to never sustainable, predictable, repeatable, and replaceable. Heroic performance is served best when applied to chaos, the heat of the battle kind of thing, but chaos is not a working environment that we want. It happens, we cope, and we hopefully return to normal conditions as quickly as possible.

What we need, in both operations and projects, from our enabling resources--including human talent--is reliable, repeatable, predictable, sustainable, replaceable, transferable and very average performance that yields outcomes consistent with predetermined specifications of performance.

Based on the limited OP write-up, I am not going to pass judgment that either A, B, or C is operating in this manner. There are a lot of variables that have to be understood to understand the benefits and costs of how each person is operating.

That said, I think the underlying issue here is a psychological one, in terms of the sweet gravitational pull of heroic behavior. What has to change is more about an organizational understanding of what constitutes a mature operation or project and what employee behaviors would be consistent with that maturity. Heroic behaviors of a few signal an immature project construct, chaos, high risk, and low confidence of delivery. I would not attack the heroic behavior per se but would look at all the rest of the capability drivers at play, e.g., tools, processes and procedures, training, skill sets, staff size, etc.

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