The hard work bias

Work + Life

Alignment Coaching

Hard work is important to success, but it’s dangerous to see it as the most important thing, writes Leila Hock from career blog Career Comtessa in Fast Company. 

There is a bias toward hard work in our society, and it’s causing a lot of damage, not the least of which is its negative effect on productivity. According to the American Bureau of Labor Statistics productivity rate is increasing at the slowest rate ever, and yet, people are working more than ever, says Leila Hook from career blog Career Comtessa.

The industrial age was defined by some thinker who would propose a way to increase output per time unit, but, by and large, more time equalled more productivity. As we transitioned to the knowledge economy, we still clung to some elements of the industrial age, after all, measuring time is easy. There’s a number to compare, and numbers, by their nature, are easily comparable. “If I’m a manager and I see that someone is showing up at the office early, leaving late, and responding to emails at all hours of the night, I don’t have to think too much about whether they’re committed to the work or trying hard. Why spend all that time if you’re not really trying?”, explains Hock the current state of affairs in many offices.

But if this manager would have to start measuring the value of the work? That means to actually look deep into a person's work – and not just the quantity of the work someone is producing, but the quality and its contribution to the team or organisation.

“We all know the people that work around the clock and get little to nothing useful done. Therefore we need to be thinking of smart work instead of hard work”, claims Hock. And to make sure that all these hours at the desk that are seemingly required to get ahead in an organisation are not in fact killing people's creativity and productivity.

Success is not about hard work. It is about focus and ensuring people use their time productively. “It’s not hard work – work is work, and yes some work requires more brain power, but most of us smart people like that and want more of it, so let’s stop calling it hard. Let’s call it productive. Effective. Valuable. Anything that speaks to nature over quantity, because that’s what we need more of.”



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