What do you notice – and reward – in your staff? Time at desk? Effort? Results?
As you’ll soon discover, I’m pretty clearly in one camp.
Some places focus on hours. Were you there at 9 on the dot, did you take extra time at lunch, did you leave early?
And for some particular positions, that might make sense: retail (where you have posted store hours), customer service (where the phones/email accounts are supposed to be staffed certain hours), reception (where the desk is supposed to be staffed certain hours), shift work.
Raise your hand if you – or your staff – do one of those things.
Let’s face it: if you’re reading this blog, there’s a good a chance you’re what’s known these days as a “knowledge worker,” someone who is valued for the knowledge she brings to a particular field of expertise.
So since knowledge workers are valued for expertise, it makes sense to measure them by results, right?
This concept is captured well by ROWE – the Results Only Work Environment.
Unfortunately, too many of our organizations are mired in a 1950s-era mentality that we judge people based on whether or not they’re putting in their hours. And making the leap to evaluating based on outcomes can be scary.
The thing is – as with many issues in the modern office – it’s a management issue.
What would it take to stop evaluating people based on “was he in his seat from 9 to 5 every week day?”
- Flexibility – obviously, this is not something that’s going to work in a rigid culture.
- Trust – you’re not going to be able to watch your people every minute, since they’re going to work when, and where, it makes the most sense for them.
- Clarity – I think this is the real rub for most offices. We measure people based on butts in seats, or effort alone, because we have no clear, measurable, concrete goals for them. “Did you work at least 40 hours (and the right 40 hours) this week?” has to stand in, because we have no idea what we actually need our staff members to accomplish day to day, week to week, and year to year.
But if you can manage to make the switch – and make no mistake, it does require a major cultural shift, at least for most offices – it can accrue tremendous benefits to your organization. ROWE has been proven to reduce stress, increase productivity, increase health and well-being, and reduce turnover. And that makes complete sense when you think about it: your staff members get to dump their commute entirely (or commute at off hours, or only some of the time), work when they’re at their most productive and in the environment that makes them most productive, and manage their personal lives in ways that make sense, which makes them happier, which in turn makes them more productive.
So what are you waiting for?