Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Recently, I was asked an interesting question about clock watching and what is acceptable. Instead of someone wanting to know if it was OK to run out the door as soon as their shift was over, which is what I expected, they wanted to know how late they should stay after their shift was complete.

The person works in a place that has two shifts, with one coming on towards the end of theirs. They feel guilty about leaving when it’s time to go. If they take off when they are supposed to, they think they will be viewed as less of a team player.

I have to say that as a workaholic, I appreciate where they are coming from. Well, kinda. I understand wanting to stick around to get pressing work done. What I don’t get is being concerned about what other team members are thinking. I dare say that the later shift isn’t hanging around after their shift is done, worrying about what the morning shift is thinking.

However, if you’re feeling bad because you didn’t get all of your work done and you’re passing it on to someone who wasn’t expecting it, then you have another situation. If this is the case, you either need to find out why you’re not getting the work completed, get more help or have leadership reset expectations.

But if you’re worried that others think less of you for leaving on time, don’t! Do your job as unto the Lord and get out. Once you’ve put your hours in, it’s time to go and live the rest of your life. Spend time with your family. Take up a hobby or get caught up on the Friends marathon you’ve been waiting for.

Either way, get out. God wants you to rest up, so you can come in full force the next workday. In other words, don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya.

Question: What would you say to someone with this concern? (Be nice :-))



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Meet Chris LoCurto


Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.

36 thoughts on “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?”

  1. I would have this type of discussion with my manager or team leader. Again, anytime I am unclear about job expectations then it’s my responsibility to seek guidance from my leaders. In that sense, I own this problem. Hopefully, my managers and I together can brainstorm what a fair and reasonable amount of time is to stay after work should the occasion call for it. However, if frequently I am not getting my work done during my work hours then I have to decide if I am not busting it enough or if there are other issues that need more discussion with my managers. It could be worse-be grateful you don’t live in Korea. My Korean husband can’t leave work until his bosses have left before him which usually means 8 or 9pm for him!

  2. this is an interesting one. ive worked at corporate jobs before where one of the following scenarios was ALWAYS the case:

    a) you didnt have enough work to fill 8 hours in a day.
    b) even if you did “extra” things, you would still end up with a laboriously boring 8 hours
    c) if you ASKED for additional work – the ppl there are so robotic they cant comprehend that and dont know what to do.
    d) There was always more than your 8 or 40 hours, but there was no incentive to do it because the person putting in 6 in a day, and the person putting in 10 in one day were paid the same (salaried), and there was no culture established of moving up or being rewarded.

    at one such job, i remember getting yelled at by a co-worker during my first week for leaving on time every day. she gave me a whole speech about how she busts her butt for 10-11 hours every day, and thats “just what we do here”

    with all of my wisdom as a newlywed 23 year old i told her “work is like the bathroom, you come, do your thing, and don’t stay a second longer than you need to” – she didnt like me too much after that 🙂

    The problem – to me – boils down to the toxic work environment of: we want you to put extra hours in, and go the extra mile, but we will not give you a raise, promote you, or otherwise recognize that effort. But at the same time, there’s pressure from others who do work extra (for no reason) for you to live up to their standards – these ppl are just seemingly addicted to work and expect everyone else to be also.

    It’s precisely the sanctioned incompetence we talked about at entreleadership.

    1. HAAAAAA!!!! I love the bathroom comment!! At 23 that makes sense. Although, since I’ve gotten to know you, I think your perspective has changed a little. 🙂 Or should I say you volunteer well.

      I think you’re right. It’s a toxic environment that tells people you need to constantly bust it past the hours you’re getting paid for. We are always telling people here to go home. If they don’t, what kind of team member will they be down the road? They will probably end up like the gal you said that to.

      Thanks Omar!!

  3. I have faced this issue within myself as long as I have been in business. Even as the owner I felt guilty if I were not the first to arrive and the last to leave. Recently I changed the working hours of the business so that everyone can leave early and so I don’t feel guilty when I leave a bit early. So, try to allow yourself the grace to relax if it’s just an internal, personal issue but I can’t say that I done very well at it either

  4. I have faced this issue within myself as long as I have been in business. Even as the owner I felt guilty if I were not the first to arrive and the last to leave. Recently I changed the working hours of the business so that everyone can leave early and so I don’t feel guilty when I leave a bit early. So, try to allow yourself the grace to relax if it’s just an internal, personal issue but I can’t say that I done very well at it either

  5. I would say that this is the best advice that you could have gave him. It’s important that we do our best while we are there and then we can leave with our heads up and without a guilty conscience.

  6. I have this problem with a team member. Salaried position, works longer than I want him to because he is concerned about doing a good job. 1st issue is mine, clearly communicate his working hours. 2nd issue is having him accept some advice about the way he works which would make the extra hours unneeded. Which is my issue as well–I have to become a better teacher!

    1. I have the same issue with one of my team – but I have always felt it was an “insecurity” issue – her self-worth seems to be wrapped up in the job – which is NOT good. I have talked until I am blue in the face – telling her to GO HOME at the end of the day – but she always finds a way to stay.

      1. That’s because there’s no consequence. Find something that makes a point as to how important it is that she goes home. Also, let her know that she’s not relying on God enough to do her work. Let her know that it’s more important to you that she has a life, than her spending so much time at work. The work will be there in the morning.

  7. Being on the other side of the fence on this one…. I work until I physically & mentally can’t do anymore. Some days that is 10 hours & others it is 16. We are not big enough to hire help in some areas, so leaving on time is never really an option. I’m hoping next year to hire an office assistant to take some of the work load so I can go home at a normal hour!

    Being a business owner, some days I sure do wish I could go to work for someone else and leave work!

  8. I just listened to something today – a CD from Success magazine- and I can’t remember his name – but he was saying that he encouraged his workers to put in their 8 hours and LEAVE – and have a LIFE. He said that basically in an 8 hour work day, someone could FOCUS for 4 or 5 hours and do more than someone who didn’t focus – and worked for 12 (unfocused) hours.

    I do know when I get really focused – and know I have a limited to time to “get it done” – I do.

  9. Hi Chris. I noticed you stated you are a workaholic. In the back of my mind, I’ve wondered if that was true. What are the typical hours your are putting in on a weekly basis. What causes you to do that? I’m not suggesting that you should be an 8 and out the gate person, but what should be typical? And for how long?

    I’ve found many businesses expect those who don’t recieve overtime to get out the door unless absolutely necessary while those who don’t are expected to do more than an 8 hour day. An example was my ex-wife. She is very talented and gifted in the work she does. She has the ability to do in 8 what some people would take 12 to do. She got a horrible evaluation because she came in a tad early but left at 5. She was a para-legal at a large and prestigious law firm. She asked if it was the quantity of work she did. The answer was no. They were not only happy with her output but wished more were like her. Was there any issue with the quality of work. Again, they were not only happy, but impressed. The problem was the perception she was leaving by leaving at quitting time.

    She began searching her options and took a job at another company. About 6 months later one of the senior partners contacted her and asked why she left. When she explained, he not only was shocked but made an immediate offer for her to come back. The problem was she had accepted a position she liked more with a major food chain doing similar work.

    But he admitted that the working late issue was part of the culture in most firms, especially for paralegals and junior partners and that she would likely be swimming up river from time to time with the issue.

  10. Chris, I remember hearing Dave, don’t remember if it was your show or another product, say that they don’t clock watch at your company. How late do people stay? Does everyone run for the door at 5:00 or whenever you close for the day?

    I speculate if the person who asked you was wondering what their manager might think.

  11. As one who has always struggled at being a workaholic, I always felt that if I did the extra mile, completed that important task, picked up the pieces that were left for the day, make sure the fax machine was stocked with paper before the weekend, the lights all turned off, the thermostat down, etc…did my bosses give me a raise? No. Did they appreciate my conscientiousness efforts? Absolutely. Did I get more responsibilities? Yes. Was I later promoted to management? Yes. In management of the medical field, they expect you to stay until everyone is done with their shifts, so I have never been one that understood the “out the door at 5” mentality. The only places that worked for me was a temp job or place that docked you if you had overtime or had a no overtime rule.

    I am curious why this person felt guilty for leaving. If their work was done, did they feel guilty because it feels like its not since the business is now in the 2nd phase of the day?

  12. I have always stuggled to maintain my work life balance. Pressure from work has always been there. I think one needs to inculcate the discipline in themselves to have a healthy balance in their lives. After all, life is not about work alone.

  13. Hey Chris, just found this blog. Appreciate it very much.
    For this issue, I think it’s wise to pay attention to what you’re communicating by the way that you leave. If you grab your coat and clock out in a hurry as soon as the next shift arrives, you’re not really communicating that you’re part of a team. But don’t stress out about it. You don’t have to stick around for hours to prove that you’re a team member. Just simply being polite for 20 seconds while you leave is all it takes. When in doubt, just ask someone that you trust at work to assess the situation.

  14. When I first started my job I would arrive half an hour early, not take my fifteen minute breaks, take only half an hour at most for lunch, and stay a couple hours after. Then on weekends I worked for a couple, few hours…one time up to nine hours on a Saturday.
    Part of that was necessary because of the mess I was helping to fix and I had to train myself on everything, but not all of it was necessary.
    My husband helped me see the amount of time I was spending on work was not healthy. After a couple really bad crash and burns (working myself into flu-like symptoms), I realized I needed to start taking care of myself.
    Yeah, we like to help. But our ability to help is diminished when we don’t first take care of ourselves. Trust me, spending time with my husband, running, and sleeping all have positive affects on my performance at work. 🙂

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