Here are some starting points:
1. Ban weekend work
There is an attitude in Western countries, across various industries, that the more hours you work, the better you are at your job. This is bullshit. The average human is productive for three hours per day. Realizing this, Northern European countries have a different attitude to work-life balance: Working long hours doesn’t make you better or more committed; it just means that somewhere along the line, someone sucks at managing time.
2. Stop meetings that waste people’s time
The reality of modern workplace is that most meetings are unnecessary, and exist only to fuck productivity, waste people’s time, or discuss the new episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Before opening up the calendar app, ask yourself, “Do I really need to gather ten people to discuss this, or is an email OK?” If you do decide that a meeting is indeed needed, keep it as short as humanly possible. Outline clear purpose, expectations, and next steps.
3. Don’t be an asshole about working late
Occasionally, working late for a deadline is inevitable. However, it is amazing how far a simple ”Sorry to have to ask but would you mind working a couple of hours extra tonight?” will go. And while buying your team pizza and a cab home is great, you really should be offering them time in lieu, perhaps the next day or extending their upcoming weekend.
4. Don’t answer emails after 6 PM
Unless you’re a doctor or a fireman, chances are that nothing in your day-to-day work is a real emergency. For example, in the creative industry, it’s quite common practice to get a frantic, ‘emergency’ call from a client at 11 PM about the color of the logo on their website being dark blue instead of very dark blue. Reality check: This is not an actual emergency. In today’s ‘always-on’ workplace, it’s more important than ever to set boundaries for yourself to prevent burnout. More importantly, if you are a manager, set an example by not sending or replying to emails after 6PM or the weekend.
5. Remove the bad eggs, no matter how talented they are
What happens if the asshole is your most prized employee, burning out their team with a bad attitude, egomania, and unreasonable workloads? Creative directors often are the prime suspects here. Seeing themselves as some sort of modern-day Christ, they parade around the studio with a flagrant disregard for other people’s time, project budgets, or indeed reality, all in pursuit of their artistic “vision”. The reality is that these individuals—regardless of how qualified they are—burn out teams and cost the business money. No matter how talented your prized ‘Mystical Christ’ is, if they can’t leave their ego at the door, it’s time for them to go.
6. Give credit where credit is due
Be humble and correct people when the efforts of others are wrongly attributed to you. If you are a creative director or any team lead, you should always deflect personal praise from clients away from yourself and insist that it be directed to your team. As a manager, you don’t need the platitudes — your job is to grow your team, not your ego.