(CNN) -- "We have a long-hours culture in our organization but I often feel that the extra time managers are putting in is not generating better results. How do we address this issue to make sure that, where individuals do work excessive hours, input equals output?"
Jo Causon, Director, marketing and corporate affairs, Chartered Management Institute
You are right to question a long-hours culture, particularly if it is not having a positive impact on your organization's results. Research by the Chartered Management Institute shows that the vast majority of managers work over their contracted hours, but clearly this is futile if the extra time is not being used productively.
To address the issue of managers working excessive hours, you need to ask yourself a number of questions around the objectives that they have been set. Also establish whether the managers are being supported sufficiently and if they have the right level of skills to achieve their goals.
Be clear on managers' targets and how they are being communicated. Do you think that individuals have a good understanding of what they are being asked to achieve? Are individual objectives documented and readily available so managers can make reference to them? Do teams have regular meetings so individuals can ask questions about which activities they should be prioritizing in order to achieve the business objectives?
Unless there is open, two-way communication between you and your managers, it will be difficult for either party to know what they others expectations are.
If you feel targets are clear and managers are still working excessive hours, then perhaps there is a skills issue at play. So look at the training and development programs you are offering your managers.
Do these schemes provide individuals with the skills and capabilities they need to meet their professional goals? And do courses combine theory with practical knowledge, so managers can take skills learnt and apply them to real work situations?
It may be that a particular skills set will allow tasks to be completed more effectively, allowing managers to complete work more efficiently and strike a better balance between professional and personal commitments.
If skills are not the issue, then it could be that your managers are genuinely overloaded. If this is the case, it is your responsibility to take control of the situation.
Look again at the overall business goals, decide what the key priorities are and make sure that individuals are focusing on these issues and not spending time on activities which do not drive your strategy. By re-assessing your processes, you may discover that you are not as efficient as you could be.
This said, in today's global environment, there will always be times when individuals need to stay over their contracted hours to meet deadlines or deal with large volumes of work. It is therefore important that managers are motivated to put the hours in where necessary.
Allowing individuals to play a part in formulating the organizations over-riding aims and values is a good way of getting managers to buy and understand the part they play in the organization's long-term success.
To motivate managers further, you may also need to offer them greater control and freedom over their working lives.
Benefits such as flexible working options, or the opportunity to work from home will give individuals a greater sense of responsibility over their work output, so rather than feeling disillusioned by having to stay in the office late at night, they play a greater role in aligning their objectives with their working hours.
Director, marketing and corporate affairs
Chartered Management Institute
The Chartered Management Institute is the only chartered professional body that is dedicated to management and leadership. It is committed to raising the performance of business, supporting and advising individuals and organizations, and to help tackle the management challenges you face on a daily basis. E-mail to a friend
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