Don't ruin your employees by always working late

I like to think in analogies, they help me understand things better. I just take something I know and find out how it relates to something I'm learning. For instance, I run a family-owned manufacturing business Walker Tape. When I first got to Walker 8 years ago I remember being very surprised all the employees clocked out at 4. That seemed really early to me, plus on days when there was still a lot to do we hardly ever stayed late. I could count the times per year we stayed late to finish a project and it would fit on one hand. 

Here's the thing, Walker Tape was HIGHLY productive. People HUSTLED, still do. Everyone that works at Walker is a sprinter. I very much became sprinter myself. I came from a background of never knowing when I would get off work. Sometimes 5, sometimes 7, sometimes midnight. It was all up to the boss. Little did I know at the time but I was working at a marathon runners pace. This is how I came to my sprinter analogy. Here it is: 

Let's say we're not talking business at all, but actually talking running. You had to show up every day to your running coach.  The thing was he would never tell you how long the race was until you were more than half done. You would start off fast to the first finish line only to find the race extended another 100 yards. Some days you would pace yourself to find out it was a short one and you could have done it much faster. Other days you sprinted and the race never finished, causing you to burn out. The race length extended most of the time. 

Without thinking into this you would realize that he is going to create a bunch of runners that are paced to the average race length. Never going as fast as they could but conserving for the long hauls that happened frequently. 

Let's say this coach decided to only run one length of race, every day, no changes. It also happens to be a short one. Once you began to trust in him you started running as fast as you possibly could to the same finish line every time. You become a sprinter.

You would run as fast as you could because you knew he wouldn't extend the race and leave you crawling in. 

This to me is the analogy of working in the race with no set ending. If you extend and work long hours with your employees with no set schedule, you will create paced runners. Sure you might get more covered in a day, but they will be trained to run at a paced speed. Everyone should be sprinting! Let them off at 4:00, and if you can't get the races you need to run finished in that time, hire more runners! 

People are amazing when they trust that can work at full speed full capacity. Employees that are paced are not very extraordinary in my opinion.