I can say that because I am a recovering workaholic. Although I still have very far to go, I have made a lot of strides in balancing work and life so that the two are not synonyms anymore. Unfortunately, most of America is plagued by the Workaholic Kool-Aid drinking offices. I know there are times were you just have to punch the pedal, but for the most part, this article will address those who enjoy the stigma of being a workaholic because it’s part of their identity.
The workaholics we will look at are not those who are the creative geniuses who truly enjoy their work. I know there are times when I put in a long day because I have had one of those energy streaks or just been really passionate about what I was doing that particular day. Again, these are not our subjects for today.
Our subjects for today are those crabby people who love staying at the office all day so they can be the eternal martyr in the office. No one really knows exactly what is accomplished in the 22 hours they work a day, but they are there. Normally, these workaholics love looking and being busy, they just don’t have a lot of production to show for it. That’s why they suck. They suck:
- The life out of the office-Normally, they like to be the pitiful mule on Winnie the Pooh of the office saying typical martyr quotes like, “I’m so tired, left here at ** last night and got here at ***” or “I wish I had a weekend to enjoy, I was here at the office getting caught up…”
- Counter Creative (in most cases)- If you think about it, when are you the least creative? For me, when I am drained, run down, and burned out, creativity is the last talent I tap into. For those workaholics who work just for the sake of working, this can be a common symptom exhibited. Creativity not only brings about great new ideas on a product or a process, but it can also help address a potential problem. Have you ever been working on a roadblock and walked away from it for a little bit? I have and it amazes me how many times I am able to free my mind a bit and see the answer in plain sight. If a workaholic does not have this opportunity, not only are they coagulating their workflow, chances are, they are slowing down or even botching the workflow in your organization.
Helping a workaholic is much like helping any other addict. You need to be cognoscente their self concept is wrapped in their job. Help them balance that out. Also, spend some time with them to really understand why they have a need to stay so long during the day. You might find some inefficiency that could be addressed fairly easily. Additionally, you, as a leader, should challenge your team to keep work in perspective. It seems to be a cultural shift recently that the more successful you are depends on how long you stay in your chair during the day. Not the case in most lives of the more successful people.
Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help organizations incorporate best practices into their business to help them succeed. In his free time, he also writes a lot on his other blog, Christian Men, Christian Warrior.