A person on a management forum recently asked if we would rather manage an overachiever or an underachiever. It probably comes as no surprise that I would rather manage an overachiever, but I’ve worked with both and there are a few different things that we need to recognize.
One of the twelve principles behind the Agile Manifesto is, “Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.”
I feel like this is a concept I’ve struggled with most of my adult life, in that I keep running into people who don’t want to work a sustainable schedule, and that confuses me.
With the bulk of my experience being in the United States, any cross-cultural comparison I make is based on hearsay, or what I’ve read, so take it with a grain of salt. But when I think about things like how many hours the typical professional in the US works versus their European counterparts, it seems that our colleagues across the pond tend to maintain a better work-life balance. I know for me, the bar is set pretty high: only working 40 hours a week feels like slacking, and there’s always more work to do. But I also recognize that working more than 40 results in poorer quality and productivity. And we all need to take into account what working more than 40 does to us both as managers and to our employees.