How to Manage Workaholics

Given the state of the economy, it’s tempting to advise people to work harder and really focus on keeping their jobs. But too much effort at the office can be counterproductive.

We are now in a work smart economy where the focus is on doing more with less. Those seemingly stand-out individuals putting-in long hours may be viewed as less efficient than their more balance-conscience colleagues.

The challenge in managing workaholics is that they are often blind to the negative aspects of their behavior. Workaholics often lose sight of why they are even working and can pull their team members into their world if you aren’t careful.

To prevent the long hours are always better attitude to overtaking the office, managers need to take action:

Don’t be peer-pressured into becoming a workaholic. Avoid allowing yourself and your team to get baited into the workaholic’s schedule. It’s important not to punish your more productive and balanced team members with added timelines and burdens purely created by a wayward workaholic. Ultimately, when you let the team workaholic set the pace you lose control of your own schedule and any hope of keeping your family obligations this holiday season.

Help prioritize their activities. When managing a workaholic, managers must set clear priorities for the tasks at hand. Workaholics are driven to overdo it, so keep the employee focused on a limited set of priorities with defined tasks.    

Set clear boundaries. Workaholics tend to have few boundaries, which can be problematic when working on a team. They are the ones who will e-mail you at 2a.m. looking for feedback on something. Once you have agreed on a set of priorities, set clear boundaries around appropriate communication times and be sure to enforce them.

Encourage extracurricular activities. Talk about the fun you had over the weekend, but also point out how non-office experiences enhanced your creativity on the job. The best way to subtly nudge a workaholic into expanding his or her activities is to tie outside activities to work in some way. If workaholics can see how being healthy or spending some time traveling may help them at work, they may take a stab at it.

Don’t enable. Workaholism can be an addiction, and the last thing you want to do is enable a workaholic by legitimizing the belief that he or she is overloaded. Workaholics often overload themselves.  Avoid offering to pick-up extra work or chip-in on a weekend, because it won’t matter--the workaholic will find something else to fill the void. The best thing you can do is show them what they are missing in the world around them. 
Remember, effort doesn’t always equal results. Workers need to find that sweet spot that allows them to maximize productivity while also maximizing personal time. Be sure to find some balance this holiday season and don’t fall prey to the workholics in your office.