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I was recently told by my manager that his manager held a meeting with him and my manager's peers to discuss "resource optimization," since it seems like everyone in our department is overly busy these day.

They reviewed each direct and when it came to me (and a few others), my manager's peers believe that I am not busy enough! I was a bit surprised at this, and I asked my manager what he thought. His response was that he didn't think so and it was probably a "perseption problem" due to the fact that I pretty much leave the office "on time" (none of them even noticed that I get in 30 minutes before all of them).

I feel like I am being called out because I am efficient at what I do. While everyone else seems to run around like headless chickens, I often get my work done on time. There are occassions that I stay late due to meetings with London. Or I take calls from home at 8pm - but those don't seem to "count".

So, any suggestion on how to handle this kind of feedback? I don't think the way to go about this is to simply stay later (like George in Seinfeld did in that one epsisode). Note that I also got an above average rating during my latest review which is considered quite good in our company, so I don't see this as an actual performance issue.

Thanks,

Tony

dtiller's picture

Hi Tony,

My suggestion is to ask your manager what you can do better.  This will allow you to better understand what is expected and then you can act accordingly.

My one surprise from your remarks is that you can get all your work done each day.  That sounds very unusual as most employees are never caught up but that the critical items are completed each day and there is always something that comes in but will be done the next day. Maybe you are getting non-critical work done and you could assist others with the critical tasks.

Your manager is the one that can help you sort this out. 

Good luck!

Dawne

tokyotony's picture

Dawne,

Thanks. I did ask what I could be doing differently and again he said it was a perspection issue, cause by my going home "on time". We are working on a solution together but I find that people are starting to point at others rather than themselves for not being efficient.

And, you are right, I do get all critical work done on time and usually non-critical work as well IF it has a deadline. What typically happens for me is that whenever I get into a new role, I do take a while to get up to speed, but once I'm in for 3 months or more, I ususally have delegated and set rules around emails that allows me to work more effectively.

I guess the bottom line is that I am really ticked that I am being viewed negatively just because I'm not staying late everyday. When I look at others, I really get quite confused how they have sooooo much work and unanswered emails. I think they are over-emphasizing their own importance and don't trust their teams to do work and thus need to be cc'd on everything they do, which I think is a complete waste of time. Prioritization is key.

 

Tony

dtiller's picture

Then I think you should just go home on time and not worry about that.  Keep in communication with boss on what more you can do and then do it and don't worry.

jl_herrera's picture

I have to agree with dtiller in that you should discuss it with your manager.  I experience the same issue very frequently.  I start work at least one hour before the rest of the team, so it is their perception that I 'leave early'.  Note that if there are critical deliverables for a particular day I do stay until they are completed, regardless of time.

One thing that I did bring up with a former manger is, in terms of an eight hour work day, what are other team members spending their time on that justifies working an excessive amount of hours each day?  In my opinion, it usually comes down to poor time management.  As stated in an earlier podcast, constantly checking email consumes too much time that could otherwise be productive.

As I see it, when everyone is working 'overtime' every day, then there is a time management problem, or simply the team is stretched to thin.  Both are issues that management should address, just not necessarily with their productive employees.

tokyotony's picture

JL,

I definitely agree with what you are saying...they probably have poor management skills. The challenge is that this perception of me is coming from my manager's peers. And their manager is new to the department. Hard to "coach" the manager peers so all I can do it change myself.

 

Thanks,

 

Tony

tokyotony's picture

Just a follow up on this. I did discuss this with my manager. He even suggested that I stay late a couple times a week to solve the perception issue. Geesh!

it_guy's picture

My take on this is pretty simple. You stay when you need to, major issues or risk of missing a critical deadline for example.

I have found that when people work all the hours they are blind to the fact that they are not striking a balance between work and home life. They are not getting time with their family and to relax. You get a short evening and you never recharge.

That creates a domino effect where you are not at full capacity for the next day, you are tired and frustrated that the work is mounting up so on. It is a horrid cycle. 

I see it a lot in IT especially when we have major issues and have to work long hours. Or people just are not focusing on the right things and get swept up in non important tasks or issues.

Sounds to me like you have that nailed it. You balance work and family life and prioritise your work well. If you are having O3's regularly your manager will know what you are working on and if you are getting it done?

 

ghilios's picture

It sounds to me like your manager doesn't know what you do, and cannot defend the perception issues when they are brought up. Do you regularly have 1:1s together? If you do, I encourage you to discuss your high level goals and intermediate deadlines. This podcast may be helpful: https://www.manager-tools.com/2015/01/deriving-your-goals-those-your-bos...

If your manager knows what your goals are, agrees with them, and see you hitting deadlines that you've both discussed consistently, then I'd be surprised if he or she would care what time you leave. Furthermore, if someone else brought up a "concern about perception", then it could easily be defended by "Tony is solid and hits every deadline. I wish we had 10 people like him"