The Business Coach with Laura Murphy: “They’re expected to stay late”

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Question: “I have a new Director who expects everyone to come in early and stay late to ‘get the job done’. It’s causing a lot of friction in the department. I don’t want to undermine him so what do I do?”

Answer: What is the culture in your organisation? Do you measure productivity by time sat at the desk (input) or through achievement of targets (output)? Highly successful businesses focus on outputs and it always surprises me that very few MDs ever think about this until it’s brought to their attention. So has your Director picked up an unspoken culture of “at your desk” (AYD)?

I’m wondering whether you’ve discussed your concerns about a lack of productivity, or given him a direction to hit higher targets. That, coupled with his perceived need to stamp his authority means he is following an increasingly discredited version of AYD called AYD+. Or maybe that’s his general style anyway. You’ve now seen how this generates negativity within the workforce and whilst it may in the short term increase outputs, in the long-term it will result in decreased motivation, reduced quality outcomes and higher staff turnover.

It’s time to have a conversation with him. I sense that you’re unhappy with his approach so you may well be moving towards an output focussed culture if you’re not there already. I’m assuming that the outputs you’re seeking are realistic so now ensure that the culture supports their achievement.

Ensure that your Director’s got the relevant communication and HR skills to be able to follow this through, and if not, get some coaching for him. It’s not too late for him to modify his approach and still retain his authority – and with your evident support your workforce will respond.


Laura Murphy is the founder of mtc2 ltd, a management consultancy, training and coaching company. Laura is an organisation development specialist and business coach. If you have a problem then contact her at

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Names and details have been changed to protect confidentiality.