Do You Work Harder Than Your Boss?

Original Post: Do You Work Harder Than Your Boss?

Ryan Holiday shared a slide show with me from author Robert Greene and some guy named 50 Cent. The slide show, 10 Lessons in Fearlessness (embedded below), features 10 short lessons adapted from the book “The 50th Law.” There’s a lot of value within, and one of the slides addresses something I’ve been encountering and thinking about a lot lately.
“Complaining and haranguing people to work harder has a counterproductive effect. You must adopt the opposite style: Imbue your troops with the proper spirit through your actions, not words. They see you working harder than anyone, holding yourself to highest standards, taking risks with confidence, and making tough decisions. This inspires and binds the group together. In these democratic times you must practice what you preach.”
Do you work harder than your boss(es) ? Is the hierarchical tier in a company actually an inverse of the amount of work being done?

Do You Work Harder Than Your Boss?

As regular readers of this blog know I consistently discuss and exchange ideas with a multitude of young employees in various types of organizations. I hear about it a bit less frequently in smaller organizations, but in the corporate world it’s virtually unanimous.

Why is this?

Is it a matter of perception?

Many times the type of work is different. While a front line employee might be analyzing trends, doing research, crunching numbers, writing copy, etc. their superiors might be having frequent meetings. Do entry-level employees perceive phone calls and meetings as easier work than the work they’re doing because it’s less mundane and tiresome?

Are those meetings usually good partnership opportunities and sales leads or is it a lot of posturing?
[Either way if a manager wants to get more out of their employees the work they do and the perceived value they create has to demonstrate to their subordinates that they are working hard, creating new business, etc. and not just bossing them around and exchanging war stories with leaders from other organizations. Yes?]

Have they earned the right to have an ‘easier’ job?

Aside from the explanation that the entry level employees just don’t ‘get it,’ and they don’t care, managers will also resort to claiming they’ve earned the right. And maybe they have. Wouldn’t you want to come in, send a few tweets, read a few articles, have a 2 hour lunch, review two quick projects and offer a tiny bit of advice, mix in a phone call and call it a day once you became a boss?
[If you’re reading this and nodding good for you, but I can assure you that your employees will have a lot more respect for someone that takes Greene’s advice. If Don Draper gave his junior copywriters a bulleted list of things he wanted to see in an ad campaign before they ever started, they’d certainly bring him something significantly better than if they operate under their own assumptions.
What’s more annoying than re-working something 15 times because you couldn’t get your superior to sit still long enough to read your draft? Or a middle manager telling you to change something after reading two sentences and then going back into their office and closing the door? I have an idea: READ THE WHOLE DAMN DOCUMENT AND LET ME KNOW WHAT WORKS AND WHAT DOESN’T AND I’LL FIX IT ONCE INSTEAD AND SAVE US BOTH FOUR HOURS AND SEVEN REVISIONS. Save the learning experience BS for better economic times when we actually have hours to waste.]

One day when you have your own company (or today if you already do) consider crafting strategy with an employee, and instead of just asking them questions to “get them thinking,” contribute your own ideas and insights; after all, you’re the one with the experience. If your entry level employees can write 2 proposals a day, try writing 3. If you’re the boss and you can write 3 not only will they respect you, but they’ll amplify their own efforts.

* I haven’t been in the work force long enough to state these claims with any definitiveness. That’s not the intention here. Rather t have a discussion and learn from one another. Do you perceive that the people above you do less work than you, particularly if you work in a big organization? If so, is it on account of one of the reasons above? If you’re a leader, what do you do to demonstrate to your subordinates that you’re in the trenches also?

Check out the slideshow and see what else you can learn from Robert and Fifty’: