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You’re Working Too Hard

April 5, 2012

I like to think that most of us head into the office every day with the desire (and the dedication) to do our best. We like to tackle each day with vim and vigor; we want to solve problems and feel a sense of accomplishment as the day draws to a close.  I know I sure do.

But just the other day I had a conversation with a friend named Jeff who told me he’s in a work environment where most of his team members live by the rule of let’s-do- just-enough-to-get-by.

“You don’t have to give that much effort” a co-worker told him. “You’re making the rest of us look bad.”


“Take your time getting it done; we need to fill up the day so they don’t cut our positions” said another cubicle-mate.

“You’re working too hard” chimed in a third.


This is a fairly small work group and the supervisor is right in the trenches so there’s no possible way (absent total obliviousness) that he’s not aware of these conversations … or these work habits.  The necessary work is getting done – no question there – but it’s apparently minimal output. 

And poor Jeff feels caught in the middle.  He’s got the desire and the dedication to do his best each day.  He heads into the office loaded with vim and vigor and gusto, ready to learn and contribute even more.  But he’s getting the message that it’s perfectly acceptable, and somewhat preferable, to do just-enough-to-get-by.  And it frustrates him…to the point where he’s starting the search for another job.

Just a tad freakin’ insane that a department and an organization could potentially lose people BECAUSE they want to work…and are being held back from doing their best.  Am I right?


I dunno.  Maybe even after all these years in the People Business I’m still a bit of a Pollyanna – always able to find something to be “glad” about no matter the circumstances.  So in this case I guess I can be glad that hard-working Jeff is putting himself out on the market – and may be available to fill a position at my company.

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