Being super effective or efficient at work is not always a good thing

Yes, there is such a thing as ‘working too hard’- and it may be hampering your success.

Are you an all-or-nothing kinda guy/woman? Ever worked your butt off only to see less qualified others get promoted over you? Well, your productivity may be the one thing between you and that promotion.

How? Bonnie Marcus, author of the book ‘The Politics of Promotion’, thinks that it is very possible to be ‘too efficient’ at work. “I think we come out of school knowing that we did really well by buckling down and doing the work, maybe doing some extra work, and that’s how we got the good grades,” she says. But “academic success doesn’t necessarily translate into career success.” When it comes to advancement, “it’s not just the work, it’s who do I know, and who do I need to know”. ¤”

In other words, if you’ve been cutting out on a social life to get more work done – you’re doing it all wrong. As unfair as it seems, there’s a lot more to getting a promotion and being successful than working hard. Getting promoted also depends on getting recognized, and this isn’t quite possible if you’re cooped up in your own shell with your work. Another mistake hard workers often make is to assume that people can see how hard they’re working.

Here are some ways your over-efficiency may be hurting you

When you are competent enough to solve a problem, you get rewarded with a trickier, more complex problem. When you solve that, you’ll be given something harder, which hardly feels like the reward you deserve. Or, in the words of Josh Zerkel, certified professional organizer and the director of global community and training at Evernote,

“If you’re a capable person and people recognize that you’re organized and productive, they’re not going to give you a gold star. They’re going to give you more work.”

It’s a never-ending loop you can’t get out of. So what does it mean? We work slightly slower? Maybe yes.

  • Think your productivity’s going to get you places? Think again! Highly productive employees are actually less likely to get promoted because their boss knows how difficult it would be to replace them. Though you might enjoy your boss’s appreciation in the form of employee gift cards or other merchandise, but not a promotion. Sad yet, such employees are also often picked on by their colleagues and frowned upon for being too hard-working and ultimately, making the rest of the team ‘look bad’.
  • Productive people are usually loaded up with extra tasks till they’re drained of creativity and/or quality. Then, they’re told off for not keeping up with the work! ÄŸŸ ¤• However, on the other side, less productive employees aren’t held on such a stressful standard, AND they get paid the same as you!
  • The highly efficient workers are often everyone’s go-to to clear doubts and questions. Now they’re expected to do their own jobs AND help their co-workers with their work too! Additionally, these productive people are seen as ‘slacking off’ for taking normal vacation time when things get busy. However, this is considered normal in the case of a regular employee? Where’s the equality?!

Have you noticed that it boils down to the fact that if you WORK efficiently from 8AM to 5PM you’re frowned upon vs a person who does NOT work efficiently from 8AM till like 9PM, is applauded and kept on a pedestel!

If you want to turn your productivity into a boon from bane, here are 4 helpful ways to get you closer to that promotion you deserve, and farther away from the constant pressure of working well (yes, it sounds weird, I know):

  • Expand your circle! In a typical 9-5 job, you’re paid to work from 9 to 5, irrespective of whether you do have work or not. If you find yourself working faster than the others, use the extra time to socialize. When it comes to leadership, it isn’t just about being the best at the job. It’s also about who you know and who trusts you. Socialize during your breaks at work instead of staying cramped up at your own little desk and doing more work. If there are any team building activities for work arranged, instead of taking that time to work or spend alone, you can participate in those events and mingle with everyone. You also need to find the right balance so that it doesn’t look like you’re just socializing all the time. Going to 1-2 work events a month too would do wonders in staying connected to those who could have an influence over your career. The more people that trust you, the easier the promotion! ÄŸŸ ¤ ©
  • Your. Time! Faster does NOT mean better. Being known for completing tasks the fastest leads to higher expectations and constant pressure! Instead, take your time to do tasks at hand, but make sure to complete them to perfection, so that you’re recognized not for your speed, but for your immaculate work. If you’re new you may not want to set a trend of working efficiently effectively immediately, try to find that balance.
  • Practice the art of reacting optimistically. Forgot to send in an important email? ÄŸŸ˜ ± Thank your boss/colleague for being patient with you, rather than apologizing for your mistake! By saying ‘thank you’ instead of ‘sorry’, you prevent your status from being devalued, as well as making the colleague/friend feel appreciated! This makes them see you in a more positive light, and you get a chance to fix your mistake without affecting your reputation, win-win!
  • Your boss doesn’t necessarily realize the amount you accomplish until you mention it. Productive employees often turn invisible because the work they do goes unrecognized or it’s simply taken for granted. Bonnie Marcus, author of ‘The Politics of Promotion’, recommends regularly scheduling some one-on-one time with your boss to highlight your accomplishments. Seems a little ‘show off-y’? Well, maybe so.

But… at the end of the day, your efficiency isn’t going to get you places if nobody knows about it. Market yourself enough until other people start doing it for you.

Find the right work-networking balance, and watch the promotions roll in! ÄŸŸ ¤ ©

PS: Watch the below video it’s true and hilarious AF!

Written and Researched by Naomi DSouza and Najah Bashir

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