Firms Benefit When Execs Spend Less Time Doing Their Jobs
CEOs of high-performing companies spend more time in "non-core" job roles than their counterparts at lower-performing firms.
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Companies whose top executives spend less time doing their jobs actually perform better, according to a University of Michigan business professor.
Research by Theresa Welbourne of U-M's Ross School of Business shows that firms—especially those with fewer than 500 employees—have higher levels of overall performance if senior executives spend more time on "non-core" job roles.
Welbourne asked nearly 400 top business leaders about how they spend their time at work. She then examined how that time spent is associated with firm performance.
She found that, on average, executives spend less than half of their time (45 percent) doing their basic core job—the work they were hired to do as indicated in their job description.
But they spend more time on non-core jobs: 19 percent of their time developing new ideas, creating new routines or improving job processes; 16 percent on responsibilities for project-based teams; 12 percent on work done to support their company overall (when it is not part of their other job roles); and 8 percent on enhancing their careers and skills.
"The average time spent by CEOs, in particular, in the job role within a high-performing company is 36 percent versus 46 percent for the low-performing firms," said Welbourne, adjunct associate professor of executive education at the Ross School. "This is not surprising in that we know long-term competitive advantage comes from a work force that is spending time doing things other than the core job.
"If employees are focused only on the job, everything that a company does can be easily copied by its competitors and replicated easily. Long-term competitive advantage comes from the right combination of core job and non-core job roles."
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