Earlier in my career, one of my colleagues was promoted, and his manager emailed the entire staff to make an announcement. In the memo, the manager praised this employee’s “dedication.” As evidence, the manager highlighted the fact that this employee had recently worked until 1:00 a.m. one night to meet a deadline for the following day.

What this manager didn’t mention or recognize was that several other people in the company hit the same deadline hours earlier. Were they less dedicated than the man who had to work until 1:00 a.m.?

No. They were simply faster and more efficient with their time.

Here’s an analogy to drive home this point. If it takes Paul three hours to finish a marathon and it takes Ron six hours to finish, is Paul less dedicated than Ron? No, Paul’s simply faster and more efficient as a runner. 

Unfortunately, many bosses and employers send a message to their employees- either directly or indirectly- that the longer you work, the more dedicated you are. This implies that the opposite is also true: the shorter you work, the less dedicated you are. 

In most companies, you are more likely to be praised for finishing late than for finishing early. “Let’s all congratulate Jennifer for finishing early and leaving at 4:00 p.m. again!” said no boss ever.

To be clear, some people work long hours, while still being fast and efficient. However, such people are usually not any more dedicated than those who work shorter hours. Instead, they are usually just less strategic about leveraging the time and talents of others.

Here’s another analogy. If Anne works with a team of people and completes a project in three hours, is she less dedicated than Mary, who needs six hours to finish because she chooses to work alone?

Working shorter hours doesn’t mean you’re less dedicated. Working longer hours doesn’t mean you’re more dedicated. Your level of dedication has nothing to do with how many hours you work each week.

Have you taken the free habits assessment at StrongerHabits.com?

Stronger habits (not longer hours) lead to higher performance over the long-term.  You can click here for a free, 3-minute assessment that measures your current habits in four areas linked to higher performance. You’ll also get a free eBook on the 5 keys for forming stronger habits.

About the author: Pete Leibman is the creator of StrongerHabits.com and the author of Work Stronger; Habits for More Energy, Less Stress, and Higher Performance at Work. His work has been featured on Fox News, CBS Radio, and CNNMoney.com.

Pete Leibman at work (left) and competing in an obstacle race (right)