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Submitted by mahin on


Dear Mark/Mike and/or anyone else who wants to chime in,

In the "First Job Fundamentals" series, there is a cast on having a positive attitude at work.  One of the ways it is mentioned is to come in early and stay late.  Mark mentioned that at minimum one must be working at the designated start time (so coffee, restroom, planning should all be taken care of) and so one should be in around 20 minutes prior to their actual start time.  Mike then chimed in that if one wants to get ahead, then he or she should be getting in even earlier.

How would you handle a workplace where there is no set start point but rather a window.  The earliest guy gets in around 6:20-6:30 AM.  Front line supervisors who run union crews get in at 6:30.  Managers pop in between 7:00 and 7:30 AM.  Others come in at 7, some 7:15 and some as late as 7:45 to 8.  Our department has never institutionalized a set starting point (and likewise not a set quitting time).  What would you recommend in this situation?

Thanks in advance!  

SteveAnderson's picture
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I would look at what your manager does.  At minimum, you might try to be there a little before or just around the time your manager shows up.  Now, if your manager works a 12 hour day and you're restricted by employer or union rules to 8 hours, then you'll obviously need to honor that as well.

Whatever the case, my standard when I was doing shift work was to be at my station and ready to work fifteen minutes before the actual start of my shift.  In many cases, I was relieving someone and we had no schedule overlap so my being there a little early made it possible for them to leave on time.  When leaving, I would generally wait until the actual end of my shift to begin packing my station up.  The only exception to this was when someone was taking the station at the end of my shift - in which case I had it ready and clean for them to start their shift.

Hope this helps.


GlennR's picture

It's still all about results. Showing up early just to score brownie points may fool some people, but not for long.  There's no point in coming in early and staying late if you're not surpassing your goals and objectives. I just this morning finished a mid-year review of one of my exempt directs. It was all about results, not about what time she arrived or left.

If you are going to revise your schedule, consider also revising your work habits to make yourself more productive. For example, if you haven't adopted GTD, now might be the time to do it. Or, if you always have your email on, consider turning it off when you're on deadline or try checking at set times. What other things can you do to increase your productivity when you change your schedule?

I used to hit my desk at 6AM so that I could leave early. The first 2-3 hours were very productive if I focused on creative tasks like written communications or planning. As I moved past the 9:00 hour, I began interacting with people more directly in meetings, IM, and emails. But 3PM I told people I was running out of keystrokes (the clarity of my emails declined as I grew tired) and I would frequently just pick up the phone and call them. I reserved more mindless tasks (expense reports, filing, etc.) for later in the day.



mahin's picture
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Thanks guys for the feedback.  Glenn, I agree with you wholeheartedly that results trump all else but Mark and Mike dedicated half of one of their "FIrst Job" podcasts to showing up early and staying late so I think they are trying to inculcate that habit into us young folks. 

markbyantaylor's picture

Working all hours worked for me.

I was generally one of the first in (of a building of 200+) and last out - often setting/ unsetting the alarm.  This was in my younger years - no family, no distracting commitments, very uneven work/ life balance.

Found it great for getting stuff done.  Generally got work done in the quite periods, and spent the "real" hours running around interacting.

I really did get me noticed and I believe that it opened a lot of doors for me.  During that period I was working for a meritocricy so (combined with results) the oppertunities and rewards mounted up.

As a manager now - it is certainly nice to see staff doing longer hours than yourself - and I do notice it.

Again, as Glenn says - you need the results - but showing you have a good work ethic and showing real enthusasim will get you a great distance too.


cim44's picture
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How many jobs have really hard, quantifiable measures that all but render meaningless qualitative measures / perceptions of effort.  Particularly in entry-level jobs.

Unless you are a cold-caller producing your own leads or doing piece work (and even if you are) it is critical to manage impressions in your first months.  You will build a reputation, good or bad, deserved or not, that will be very hard to disprove for months if not years.  Use this to your advantage.