Warning: You Might Be an Accidental Hypocrite


Some moments stay permanently lodged in your brain.  In fact, I still remember the layout of the room we were in for the celebration. The speaker started off with a few comments about the organization and its core values.  One of those values included the concept of maintaining balance between work and personal lives.

After he wrapped up the initial remarks, he handed out a few awards.  He introduced the individuals receiving the awards and called out their extraordinary efforts that contributed to the team achieving its goals.

He specifically mentioned the long hours they had worked for months to get the job done and the sacrifice their families had made in their absence – all without any sense of irony of how that directly contradicted the values he’d just reiterated. 

He was sincerely appreciative of their efforts, but I don’t think he realized the message he’d just delivered.

“Our core values state that we shouldn’t work 24/7 but that’s the type of effort that will be rewarded and publicly applauded.”


Has your team ever received this mixed message ?  I don’t think anyone wants his or her staff working late hours on a regular basis yet that’s often the type of behavior that gets rewarded.  I’m all for rewarding excellent work, but long hours don’t necessarily equate to excellence.

A consistent need to work long hours is an indication of a deeper issue.  It could be poor time management, a lack of efficient systems and processes, poor planning, and/or inadequate staffing levels.  If your team is working late fairly often, then start asking why.  Find out how they’re managing their time, how they prioritize the work, if a certain process or software program isn’t working well, etc.  To help you decide if you need to start hiring, ask your team what they would assign to a new employee.

Only reward behavior that you want to see repeated.  Acknowledge team members who find more efficient, excellent ways to complete a task.  Take note of individuals who are constantly seeking to improve a process or system.  Those are behaviors that lead to a high-performing team that is well-rested with families that still love your organization.


Think about the last time you publicly acknowledged a team member’s efforts?  What did you reward?  What behavior did you encourage?