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As we approach the midpoint of 2017, one topic has consumed the entrepreneurial world this year: sleep.
In the past few months, Entrepreneur’s experts have urged you to prep mind and body for work before 8 a.m., start working before 7 a.m. and even wake up at 4 a.m. It wasn’t always this way. In the past, Entrepreneur‘s writers have explained why you never should feel guilty for sleeping, and the amazing Neil Patel even described how he runs multimillion-dollar companies on 9.5 hours of sleep each night.
I’m going to split this bedtime in half. I suggest you get to work early, leave late — and take time off in between.
1. Understand that optics matter.
If you have hundreds of employees, optics matter. When you’re just starting out, you set your work hours with one goal in mind: Get the damn work done. But when you’re the boss, your employees look to you not just for guidance but also as an example.
If you roll in at 10 a.m. and leave at 4 p.m., what will your best producers think? Will they keep producing for you?
2. See eye to eye.
What about your worst producers? If you’re not there, they’ll figure out ways to not be there, too. I’ve noticed motivating marginal employees to produce is easier than coaxing top-notch producers to produce more. The secret? Always be visible at the office.
Great employees are hard to find. You’ll always have position players and benchwarmers. A team’s success isn’t based solely on all-stars who excel. It also depends on role players who step up when needed. Those role players need attention. Sometimes, that requires nothing more than a watchful eye.
3. Play traffic cop.
“Making the rounds” in your office both early and late is much like parking a police car under the overpass to wait for speeders. The officer doesn’t need to be there every day, writing tickets. The deterrence effect sticks around for weeks.
You don’t need to do this daily — let’s face it: You have a business to run. But looping through for a few minutes every few days sends a message and also lets you get in the trenches to see what’s really going on.
4. Empower middle managers.
If your business has grown large enough that you need to hire managers to oversee employees, you’ve certainly heard a version of this complaint: “My staff isn’t listening to me. Can you step in and say something?”
Occasionally this is a sign of a weak manager. More often, though, it signals an overpowering staff. Team members might realize their manager isn’t going to step up, so they take advantage. Don’t let things get so tense you need to stage a CEO intervention. Start small. Combine this tactic as you make rounds early or later in the day: Make it a point to be seen smiling and chatting with that manager.
Trust me, those troublesome team members will perk up and notice. Any employee with an ounce of self-preservation will realize he or she can’t roll in late or ditch work early. As an added bonus, you’ve shown that manager respect — and that will have a ripple effect among staff.
5. Spread out your stress.
Showing up in the office before your best employees and leaving after your weakest employees makes for an exhausting work day. That’s why I don’t recommend making it an everyday habit. On the days you do go the distance, though, consider taking time off in the afternoon. I’m not suggesting a siesta — though a power nap might be in order, depending on the rest of your schedule. Everyone has errands to run or a friend they’ve been meaning to reconnect with over a long lunch.
If you disappear in the middle of the day, fewer employees will notice than if you’re absent early or late. I’ve used the afternoon break to pick my children up from school and take them to activities. Those 30 minutes energize us all.
Sure, some days I’m up at 5 a.m. contemplating the latest conundrums to conquer at work. Other days, I sleep in and spend time with my family. Taking advantage of this “weekday hack” keeps my business humming.