Macho managers will tell you that they don’t need sleep. That sleep is for wimps and the non-committed. They will constantly remind you, through their words and deeds, that they built their careers by burning the midnight oil; working on reports and preparing for their meetings the following day.

I have known people who deliberately stayed up late to show off how dedicated they were by sending out e-mails way after midnight. The problem is that macho management is not confined solely to men. Some women too only feel they have done a reasonable day’s work if they have clocked up at least twelve, or more, working hours for their employer in any one day. They even boast to their colleagues about it: How hard they work, how loyal they are. What nonsense! Working excessively long hours has nothing to do with loyalty but everything to do with insecurity and a lack of imagination.

To be honest there are days when I work twelve hours or more, but I do it out of pure choice, I certainly don’t do it for the money and I do not expect others to follow my example. My children have left home, and my wife has a busy career too.

In fact I get kind of worried if I see e-mails coming in on a Sunday afternoon or after nine at night. I wonder why these people do not have a social life. I wonder what their partners and family must be thinking. Why it is that they decide to focus on work rather than all the other things life has to offer to distract one’s attention?

Macho management is dangerous. The pressure macho managers can assert, even sometimes without realizing it, often borders on the immoral. I have witnessed many divorces and family breakdowns due to unsolicited work pressure. I have also seen the unfortunate nervous breakdowns and stress related crashes that inevitably occur when macho managers convince those around them that their way of working is the norm. And I am not talking about small businesses trying to break through into profitability. No, many of the worst perpetrators are giant multi-nationals with small minded managers.

We don’t need any additional laws; we just need to apply common sense. Chastise those who send e-mails in the middle of the night (without a perfectly valid explanation) and reward those that get through their work during the day by observing good discipline and a sense of honesty towards their employer by focusing their attention efficiently on the tasks at hand, working the hours they are contracted to do and once in a while a few extra for good measure. It’s a question of sustainability and common sense.

Tired people in the workplace, and even those working from home, are a risk. For one they are much more likely to have accidents, the quality of their output is very likely to be substandard and the time it takes a tired person to carry out even a simple task is infinitely longer than a fresh person.  And if their employer is stupid enough to pay them overtime or some other compensation for working excessive hours then they will sooner or later realize that it is very poor value for money.

There are always special occasions when working extra hours is necessary. But prolonged systemic overtime is never in anyone’s interest.

So watch out for macho managers with big sticks and small minds, for they are the bullies that no one respects and often cause irreparable harm to families, friends and loved ones. I never thought I would ever hear myself saying this but the European working time directive is quite sufficient; it’s not a handicap, it is a common sense rule that in all normal circumstances should never need enforcing. After all, restricting yourself to working no more than eleven hours in twenty four does not sound so bad to me, assuming that the eleven hours is spent working in an efficient and focused way.

Have a nice and not too long working week 🙂