I’m kind of tired this morning. I stayed up to watch the first overtime period of a hockey game last night, which turned into a second period and then a third. In the NHL, playoff overtime periods are the same 20 minute length as a period in a regular game, so it was the equivalent of watching almost a complete second game. The thing that always strikes me about OT (as overtime is commonly known) is how the players deal with it. After all, they’re told to put out 100% effort during the game, so what’s left in their tanks if they’re doing that?
It’s a good question for all of us in business. Then again, we don’t play OT since there’s really no game clock any more. Overtime is the quaint notion that there is work beyond normal working hours for which we get paid additional money. Of course, with our “always on” technology, it’s not unusual to receive (and reply to) emails and documents at any hour. In fact, I’ll bet most of you get antsy if you send a note at any time and don’t receive a reply within an hour.
There are lots of issues here. The biggest is the same one the players face. They’ve given everything they have to win during the allotted time and then find out that because they haven’t accomplished the goal they’ve got to continue to give more. Can they? These OT games often come down to conditioning and team management - who’s got the fresher legs. That’s why as managers, we need to make sure our people are pacing themselves since there is no clock in business any more. Sometimes our best performers will burn themselves out if we don’t make sure they’re turning off the mail and setting the phone to mute, at least on the weekend.
The notion of paying people for overtime work is a fair one yet I don’t know how anyone keeps track. Business is not just done in the office and burnout can happen anywhere. There is no clock in business – most of us don’t “punch in” and “punch out.” As a result, we need to be cognizant that the game might go into OT, the little breaks in between periods of game action won’t be enough to fully recover, and we need to have the stamina to compete.