How Was Your Weekend?

You’ve worked hard. It is time to take a break. That is why we have weekends. These coveted jewels of the week are not only the end of the work week, they are the end for which the paycheck is the means. We work to survive certainly, but we work to live a certain lifestyle. As we plod through the work week, we look forward to the personal experiences of the weekend: soccer games, swim meets, fishing, camping, skiing, work around the house, gardening, worshipping ...you name it. Our lives are full. It is during the weekend that we can spend time with our families, visit relatives, volunteer, and take care of personal lives. This time tested design works well. Five days is about as long as intensity and focus can remain at high levels. The human mind can focus intensely but desires and requires a break. Of course, business does not always go as expected, so there are times that a "little extra" is required. These times are usually identified around four o’clock on Fridays. This is when the realization that some deliverable promised months ago, and behind schedule after the first week, is not ready. Managers dart from cubicle to cubicle, put on their best parental face, conjure up their best Gary Cole impression to notify employees that they are expected to be in over the weekend. The report is delivered to upper management...”We have people working over the weekend.” Whew...that was close. Fast forward to Saturday morning. Employees drag themselves in, usually in very casual attire - baseball caps, sandals ..whatever. They partake of the doughnut peace offering brought in by the manager, still bent that they are missing their child’s soccer game. They begrudgingly make their appearance and dive into their work. Unfortunately, not all the needed players are in, and thoughts of the screaming fans at the soccer game continue to interrupt their mindset. Somehow... surprise, surprise... the work is not up to normal quality. Between the hovering manager, and the desire to get the heck outta there, band-aid fixes and temporary tweaks are made. When Monday finally arrives the deliverable is not any closer than it was on Friday. As a matter of fact, Monday is spent undoing the misdirected weekend work. It is now Tuesday and the project is back to where it was on Friday. With only four days left in the work week, the project is now three more days behind; the next weekend of work will surely be needed. The cascading compound interest turns the “little extra” into a snowball collecting more work every weekend. Eventually, the doughnuts stop as the exception becomes the norm. The work week becomes the minimum payment on the project credit card and the project slides deeper into schedule debt. Now, we hire smart people...adaptable people. So it does not take too many of these episodes for the behavior to change. The intensity of work lifts. Instead of humming Loverboy’s “Workin’ for the Weekend” people grumble “Why bother, I will be here on Saturday anyway.” The last threads of motivation finally snap and the project tumbles backwards. The way I see it, if we just work a few more weekends we will be back to the start of the project! Oh, and by the way...Have a Great Weekend!