Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The High Cost of Being a Workaholic

In a nation of overachievers, hard work is a virtue. If you work hard, you'll achieve your goals. If you work even harder, you'll achieve even more. Right?

Perhaps not. There are, in fact, several downsides to working too hard. Being the office workaholic can cost you coveted promotions, hurt your home life, and even turn friends into enemies. Evaluate yourself with the following five questions.

1. Are you busy ... or disorganized?

Are you constantly staying late and coming in early yet producing the same output as others? If so, your boss may come to view you as inefficient and possibly disorganized. Dave Cheng, an executive coach with Athena Coaching, says, "There are some people, type A's, who get a lot of satisfaction from doing lots of work, but the quality isn't necessarily superior."

Focus on getting your work done in a reasonable time frame. If you have perfectionism or time-management issues, ask your supervisor to help you prioritize things and learn when to let go of a task. Cheng says, "Just because you're working longer doesn't mean you're working better."

2. Are you delegating ... or hoarding?

If you have any aspirations at all to move into management, you must learn to delegate work. Again, tasks need to be completed in a timely fashion; if you're having trouble finishing a project, you must delegate to other team members, even if you happen to relish the task you're giving away.

Cheng, who has more than 12 years of experience in corporate human resources, reveals, "Some workers feel like if they do everything and they're the only one who knows how to do it, they're making themselves irreplaceable. However, sharing information and teaching others around you is a valued skill as far as management is concerned."

Focus on completion and quality and be generous enough to let a colleague learn and shine. If you lack sufficient support, ask your boss about expanding your group.

3. Are you hungry ... or is your plate full?

Once you've solidified your reputation as the office workaholic, you may find that when your dream project comes through the door, you aren't asked to work on it. Why? Your boss probably thinks you don't have the bandwidth to take on anything else. Always keep a bit of room in your schedule to sink your teeth into new challenges and opportunities.

Cheng reminds professionals, "Your ability to say no to certain things gives you the freedom to say yes to others."

4. Do you have friends ... or 'frenemies'?

Your workaholic ways are likely alienating once-valued associates. Above and beyond the obvious grumblings of, "You're making the rest of us look bad," your colleagues may dread collaborating on a project with you.

Lose the overly methodical approach, don't expect folks to come in early or stay late for meetings, and focus on process and outcome.

5. Do you work to live ... or live to work?

The best workers are well-rounded professionals with full lives, in and out of the office. Each year, new studies abound about the importance of vacations, hobbies, and enjoying your leisure time. But are you listening?

Your friends and family will be in your life a lot longer than you'll hold most jobs. Also, pursuing leisure activities you're passionate about can lead to a second career.

Cheng concludes, "Work-life balance is a choice. If you reflexively say yes to taking on extra work, you may live to regret it."

No comments: