Highly paid executives usually just wasting time

How do company executives spend their time?

Most of us are puzzled, as it is almost inconceivable that many actually “earn” the multi-million dollar pay cheques that they receive each year. When they arrive at their desks and sit down, what are they doing to warrant pay, of say half a million dollars a week?

A new working paper from the Harvard Business School suggests that much of their time is wasted. According to a report published therein from an assistant to the chief executive of a firm, her boss spends much of the lunchtime interval sleeping or in a meeting with that assistant. It was further stated the average boss “works” 48 hours a week, with a good portion of that at meetings or perhaps in a large conference.

It is interesting to note the boss of a company stated in The Harvard Business Review the most difficult part of his job was to say “no” to people who want something. Apparently, however, a few merely want a part of their superior’s time only to make their presence known.

A good deal of time at the various meetings held is with people from outside of the company. Other get -togethers are with individuals trying to obtain a job or from employees desirous of raising their profile. Thus, they go in and take some time with the boss probably to serve as a reminder of their work, with the expectation of some ultimate reward. It would be far more useful if such individuals were told to contact a personnel director, and therefore not take the time of the boss.

Other chief executives believe they must travel around the world, perhaps in a luxurious company jet, pitching to clients with the hope of expanding business; a kind of high-priced salesman.

The chief executive of the firm Goldman Sachs, stated he met with over 200 actual or prospective clients last year.

It would be more intelligent if a company chief executive devoted more time to planning about the future; a good, long-term strategy for the firm.

The head of Microsoft stated that he sits alone for an 18-hour day, thinking and planning moves about the company’s future. He advocated “think weeks” for himself and other chief executives. While some may believe that a consulting firm should do that, it would be preferable if someone in the company did that.

In any event, it is very difficult to understand or justify the huge pay packages that routinely are presented to company chief executives.

Bruce Whitestone