Seth Godin’s post called Time doesn’t scale contains a paragraph that reads “One way to get ahead as a freelancer or a factory worker of any kind (even a consultant at Deloitte) was simply to put in more hours. After all, that made you more productive, if we define productivity as output per dollar spent.” That reminded me of a story I heard once.

There were two employees at a company, employee 1 arrived on time completed all of his work early and left on time. He rarely worked overtime and always did a good job.

Employee 2 showed up early and stayed late. It took him three times as long to do half as much work as employee 1. Often times employee 2 would have to stay late to finish the same amount of work as employee 1. He almost always required help from employee 1 to finish his projects.

One day a manager walked through the work area saw employee 2 working feverishly. The manager hitched up his pants and proclaimed, “We need more people like Employee 2. He shows up early, stays late and works overtime whenever he needs too.”

Unfortunately the manager never realized that employee 1 got more accomplished in less time and did a better than employee 2. This manager defined productivity by time spent on a project not by the quality of work produced.