Functioning workaholics can have the same effect on family, friends and the workplace as alcoholics. Just like alcoholics, workaholics are always looking for their next fix. Their next email, their next call, their next sale, their next promotion, their next salary increase. Always their next.
They hide their addiction behind excuses, boss’s expectations, client requirements, income requirements and more. They say to themselves, “one more email and that will be my last of the day”, “the next call will be my last for the day”. And it never is.
Work is the first thing they think of (often grabbing their phones as their eyes open) and the last thing they think of (often working late into the evening on their medium of choice, phone, laptop, tablet etc.).
The workaholic (just as a functioning alcoholic) may miss family events, or when in attendance have their phone constantly glued to their hand, constantly topping up their use of the phone… just one more. Sitting at the dinner table, phone in hand, head down. Oblivious to everything going around them, their children growing, their partner’s distance, their parents’ lives, their friends’ relationships and more… "just one more and I will be finished for the evening".
The workaholic appears very busy; always late for meetings as they had to take the last call, working on their phones during meetings, cancelling meetings and in particular the 1:1’s with their team. Never having time to sit, evaluate and participate, always thinking about their next hit.
The workaholic can get vast amounts of work carried out, never stopping to evaluate their quality of their work, or the impact it makes. Working hard on lots and rarely mastering any.
The workaholic over time loses focus on the important areas; there are physical changes in appearance and behaviour.
The workaholic may even wear their ‘reputation’ as a badge of honour.
The workaholic will burn-out. Without doubt taking casualties with them. Let's hope the casualties do not include the company's reputation, HR's reputation, the company as a whole, the bottom line or even the individual's and their teams health.
Managers may initially encourage functioning workaholic mind-sets within their team, they will however tire of this quickly; tire of the excuses of missed deadlines, missed opportunities, dysfunctional team, mediocre work, others asking about “is x ok?” and of course making excuses to others in support of the team member.
Managers and HR may avoid addressing this due to fear that productivity will reduce, as is often a major factor in not managing the situation of a functioning workaholic.
Consideration: if a workaholic is working 70+ hours a week delivering OK results, imagine what the individual could deliver if they had focus and balance.
Are you a functioning workaholic looking for a resolution?
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