At the recent TruLondon event the comment ‘Recruiters are Lazy ‘caused a real stir. Almost immediately recruiters were talking about the hours they work, the early starts and late evenings. Certainly blog references to the comment have also tended to defend the dedication and long hours.
I think they are all missing the point though. When we talk about someone being lazy I don’t think we necessarily mean the hours they put in, the application and dedication…I think it’s more about the way their time is utilised, the methods they use and the outcomes.
With office jobs it’s easy to draw the distinction between clock watchers and those that work long hours. Yet I’m not sure the 8 to 8 person necessarily always achieves more than someone who puts in a shorter shift. So I turned to an industry where everyone works the same hours – an airline crew.
The crew on a flight are all putting in the same hours, so how would you define if someone was lazier than another? I asked my partner (possible her first appearance on this blog!) as she is a cabin manager for an airline – ‘How would you define a lazy crew member?’
She thought and said ‘They do the minimum. They’ve perfected the art of doing just enough. They won’t get into trouble, they are doing their job after all, but they are doing the minimum’
I have a feeling that this is where the ‘recruiters are lazy’ comment was heading. Some recruiters don’t go the extra mile. They post and pray, source and spray, and often use little wit or intelligence in how they find the best candidate. They have KPIs to hit, and as long as they hit them and pull in some transactional deals (often by focusing on the lowest hanging fruit) they will keep their jobs.
However this blog isn’t actually about recruiters (rare I know) but about how we define lazy.
The knee jerk response for most people when accused of being lazy is to talk about how long they’ve worked, or how hard they’ve worked, rather than how they applied themselves. Yet this is probably rooted in a traditional approach to work which has been gradually swept away.
Certainly when I first entered the workplace I joined an SME where loyalty and dedication had been highly valued. People received recognition for length of service and promotions were usually made on seniority.
Its people were managed on input, and rewarded on input too.
Yet this had been gradually changing, and whilst many established colleagues were effectively clock watchers, the new breed of workers (of which I was part) had proved ourselves to be willing to stay that bit later (or come in earlier) to get tasks done. We wanted to be rewarded on ability and achievement, and if we needed to work longer to get there we would.
Of course many businesses had already effectively created 8 to 8 working cultures, expecting, and demanding, longer hours. When I first started as a recruiter I remember a partner in an accountancy firm briefing me on a manager’s role. I asked him what made a good manager and he said ‘I get to work at 7am every morning. When I get here and the coffee machine is already on then I know I’ve got a good manager’.
Dedication, loyalty and long hours were not enough to get you the bonuses and promotions though. Some months later the same partner was talking to me about what makes a good partner in his firm ‘We’ve got lots of people who put in the hours but we need something more. We’re looking for the kind of person that can go to a networking evening, or a drinks party, and leave with a potential client. And can then help that client develop more so that we can earn more fees’
Managed on input, rewarded on output.
Today I think we’ve developed to the next stage. We are firmly in a world of 24/7 communication, work e-mails can be checked at 9pm or 6am, whilst on the train or eating breakfast. The expression ‘Generation Standby’ refers to everyone and the lines are blurred between when and where you’re at work and when and where you’re not. Long hours are no longer visible in the way they used to be.
Additionally I see newer entrants to the workforce as not having the same appetite for long hours. Don’t get me wrong, I believe they are motivated by doing a good job, creating really positive outcomes and are looking to learn and develop all the time, but maybe expect more of a balance between their working time and personal interests.
Whether it’s a teen doing their homework, a trainee in their first role or a worker in the knowledge economy, I think that we’re now in the zone of managed on output, rewarded on output.
(Before I return to where I started – what makes someone lazy – I have to hold my hands up and say that these observations relate very much to office work. It’s what I’ve known throughout my career and it’s the type of work that I suspect most readers of this blog do. I appreciate that roles in sectors such as retail, leisure and hospitality (say) do not so easily conform to the theory but suspect that the expectations of people entering the workforce, now and in the future, are more closely aligned with being managed and rewarded on output. How we absorb these will be a challenge.)
So what does make someone lazy? When you refer to a colleague or co-worker as being lazy what do you mean?
Length of time spent working?
How they have approached their work?
Or what the outcome of their work is?
Let me know what you think….and also how you think we should define it.