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Wondering if anyone has yet read "Why Work Sucks (and How to Fix It)." The authors note that corporate America lives according to the following myth: time + physical presence = results. They propose, alternatively, a "Results-Only Work Environment" in which "each person is free to do whatever they want, whenever they want, as long as the work gets done." The ONLY thing looked at are results - not time spent, not presence in the office, not how you dress, etc.

The authors developed and launched the "Results-Only Work Environment" in rather creative fashion at Best Buy with some notable (i.e., measurable) results. It was the subject of a Business Week cover story last year, and as I walked through an airport last night on my way home, found this just-released book written by the women who created the concept. It's a quick read - finished it on the flight - but really thought-provoking.

I'd be interested in others' thoughts.

cwatine's picture

I like the concept. And would be interested in reading the book.

Does it answer the question about people who "need" to be present in the company because customer need them at that time?
Like operators who take orders, hotliners, employees in a shop, etc.

wendii's picture

Cedric,

The book is on my wishlist. There were lots of articles around last summer before the book was published. I havn't seen anything about Best Buy using this in their retail stores, despite a lot of the articles ending in 'and they are about to roll this out across the retail stores'.

The idea however, is now a revenue stream in it's own right: http://www.culturerx.com/

Wendii

cwatine's picture

Wow ... impressive (I am talking about the marketing and the prices here!!!). :wink:

I have lots of doubts about it, but, I will put the book on my wish list to because there may be new ideas to pick up in it. A little bit like I did with Tim Ferris' book.

It also makes me think about the LEAN missions we are selling to our customers (reduce waste, improve productivity, etc).
We have got up to 34% productivity gains on manufacturing processes with no machine investment and no extra manpower.
On the paper it looks magical ... In reality, it is!

But I don't see many methods of organization that work like LEAN.

MattJBeckwith's picture

dmcgill, thanks for the recommendation. I do remember the BW story about the BestBuy corporate offices. I followed it in the news for a while and then it fell off my radar.

dmcgill's picture

cedwat - the issue of does this work with employees in a shop is a fascinating one. I think the answer is, "we don't know yet." Best Buy has plans to roll out ROWE in its retail stores at some point in the future. Obviously, that has generated a lot of discussion, much of it questioning the feasibility of the concept.

But another interesting example you raise - operators who take orders - would theoretically be consistent with ROWE. The authors would (I think) ask the following question: in the age of the internet and wireless technologies, is there any REAL need for an operator who lives on the phone to do that from his/her cube, as opposed to his/her home? They contend that the corporate orthodoxy would require that employee to his in his/her cube simply so that management could convince itself that those employees are there and working. But the authors then ask, "couldn't you figure that out simply by looking at the key metrics associated with the position?" Again, the focus is on the results, not on where the results are generated.

I'll be honest - I'm fascinated by the concept because I spent my entire professional career up until 2006 in traditional office environments, much of it with managers who believed that physical presence in the office was somehow connected to job performance. I then took a high-level position in a company that is based on the West Coast, but that agreed to let me work from my home back East because of family commitments.

I've found the experience to be immensely more satisfying, fulfilling, and enjoyable. My productivity is exponentially higher than it used to be in the traditional environment. Most important - I have CONTROL over my time to a much greater degree than ever before. Because I have that control, I put in MORE time, but it's my choice. I joke with my friends that this has literally ruined me - if I ever switch jobs, I'll NEVER be able to return to a traditional office environment.

Obviously, I'm predisposed to like the ROWE concept based upon my experience, so I'm not going to pretend I'm objective about this. And I think most accepted management techniques - Six Sigma, for example - encourage a focus on bottom line results.

However, if you step back from the specifics of ROWE and look at the bigger picture, the authors are really asking readers to question whether the corporate orthodoxy - built on the back of the 40 hour work week in a (relatively speaking) technology-absent world approximately 70 years ago - makes any sense now.

cwatine's picture

Wow. Thank you for the story.

I was also wondering how people-who-have-to-be-on-site would react when seeing that their colleages from other department have the possibility to show up only when needed. I had this problem in the past between those two categories (result-based, and the others).

Another question mark for me is the "team spirit" and collaboration. I know from experience that some people can easily keep the "team spirit" when working from home and some others not.

We are recruiting two new sales reps and the recruiter and I both prefer to have them at a minimum distance from our two sites. Maybe we are a little bit conservative on that topic, but we want them to regularly be able to come to "their" sites and have meeting without driving for too long.

HMac's picture

I have several friends who are managers at Best Buy HQ. They love the program - but it's a little bit less revolutionary than BW made it out to be.

I take it from my conversations with them that it really grew out of a reflection of how many people [i]were already working,[/i] rather than as a "new" philosophy handed down. These two HR people, as excellent professionals, simply observed something, and then put a lot of effort into nurturing it so it could be recognized officially.

-Hugh

dmcgill's picture

[quote]I was also wondering how people-who-have-to-be-on-site would react when seeing that their colleages from other department have the possibility to show up only when needed. I had this problem in the past between those two categories (result-based, and the others). [/quote]

The short answer is that this exact scenario is discussed in the book.

The slightly longer answer is that the authors posit that this cultural issue resolves when ROWE is correctly implemented. They acknowledge a tendency for people to initially worry when they're forced to "cover" for their peers, feeling as if they're doing all the lifting while the others lounge around reaping the benefits.

The authors claim that this ends when the "coverers" become "coverees," which, if they've really bought into ROWE, will inevitably happen.

I suspect that the authors would also posit that the problems you've experienced in the past with result-based v. "other" employees arise out of the fact that the company hasn't bought into the ROWE culture, so the tension you describe would almost inevitably follow.

Of course, all roads here lead to retaining the authors for their services or buying their "ROWE for MS Office" package, so cynics will abound, perhaps correctly. But intuitively, and based upon my personal experience, what they're talking about makes a lot of sense.

US41's picture

[quote]The ONLY thing looked at are results - not time spent, not presence in the office, not how you dress, etc. [/quote]

A pipe dream.

Never underestimate appearances. The appearance of results is more important than actual results. If you get actual results and nobody sees it, you'll end up laid off as ineffective. If you appear to get results but actually do not, you will probably succeed.

Work teams are social groups of humans. The driving force in those social groups is relationships (built on trust / built on communication).

Many of the podcasts on this site have the recurring theme, "It's the relationships." Mark repeatedly quotes executives choosing whom to lay off as refusing to let go of poor performers saying, "I don't care - I like him."

The more you are in the office with your boss and coworkers, the more you are seen as contributing. The busier you look: the more you carry something with you when walking from one place to another, the more you are on the phone or using your blackberry, the more you are present in meetings... all of these things matter.

Most managers do not manage via results and objectives alone not merely because they do not know how... most are utterly incapable of doing so. We are hard wired to judge based on appearances - not to investigate and draw factual assessments free from emotion.

For the worker who works remotely in jeans and a dirty t-shirt, you will have a huge chance of ending up working for the guy with 40 less IQ points than you have if he wears a nice shirt from Brooks Brothers and shiny shoes and goes to the office daily to be seen by others regardless of his repeated failures.

My recommendations for those who want to get promoted or get their people promoted is the same advice that Lance Herrin of Harris/3M gave me back in 1986:

* Dress to play
* Play to win
* Be on time

Add to that a fourth rule for success based on the rise of the laptop: Be physically present or accept your fate as a 2nd tier employee.

wendii's picture

I don't know how old this is, but it was in one of my feeds this morning. The video is pretty incredible.

But I'd have to get dressed as opposed to working in my pajamas :-(

http://www.musion.co.uk/Cisco_TelePresence.html

Wendii

AManagerTool's picture

Once again...US41 delivers sage advice.

People...WE ARE NOT THERE YET. The future is NOT now. Paperless/Virtual offices do not exist. Some people do indeed work at home. The vast majority of them are usually self employed or some type of consultant. That said, they still go to clients sites for meetings.

Looking in my crystal ball....I see people working one or two days a week from home at most. When they do...people think they are slacking off in their underwear...no matter how much they get done.

Maybe my grandchildren will be working from home and the tech will be such that they won't be social outcasts because of it but 'till then....I'm going to work.

dmcgill's picture

I agree with the "we're not there yet" posts. I also agree that we don't have true "virtual offices" yet. In fact, I think everyone, including the authors of this book, would also agree with these sentiments.

However, I also think to dismiss the concept as a "pipe dream" and to describe it only as people working from home in their underwear is an easy way to ignore the substantive issue.

Clearly, people are not robots - we cannot evaluate someone's work separate and apart from the person performing it. However, as managers, I think we'd all agree that many of our poorer business decisions re. our direct reports arise out of emotional loyalty to people who we thought could or should be doing a better job, but simply were non-performers. Thus, if we had mechanisms that allowed us to more accurately assess our directs' performance, I think we'd all agree that would be a useful tool in our arsenal.

ROWE is not about eliminating relationships. ROWE is not about avoiding the office at all costs. In fact, the authors note that many people in ROWE workplaces still end up in the office quite frequently, but they may not be there during the "traditional" 9-5 timeframe, and their lives are not measured by hours in the office.

There are also significant parts of the book in which the authors discuss how people in a ROWE workplace interact, both remotely and in person, despite the absence of traditional corporate controls.

Most important, ROWE rests on a premise that is entirely consistent with much of what Mark and Mike talk about constantly: [i]treating people with the respect they deserve to get optimal performance from them[/i]. By giving people REAL control over their time, they have the opportunity to manage the demands placed on them effectively. If they can't handle that responsibility, then they're unlikely to survive for long. If they can, then you've got highly productive people who, because of the control they have over their work life, are more likely to be happy, committed contributors to the organization.

That's something I think all managers should aspire to, whether or not that's the current reality.

In any event, I encourage everyone on both sides of this discussion to read the book - I think it's, at the very least, thought-provoking.

Hope others chime in on this. And thanks to all who've responded so far!

cwatine's picture

I have begun the book.

It is interested and "perturbating".

"Perturbating" is the tone of the book and its rants about the way working in a company is soooo sad, boring, destructuring, etc, etc, etc
Interesting because I am pretty sure it is the way young people (less than 25) see the "life in the company".
[b]It means that us, company owners, will have to find new ways to seduce those people in the future. People make the difference. If you want good people you need to give more than your competitors do. This does not only mean more money. It means more autonomy, motivation, the feeling of being part of the "story" etc[/b]

Another interesting thing : "Sludge"(tm!). This is the term the authors of the book to name the action of making nasty comments to someone who is organizing his work differently than the usual 40 hour work week (jealously?).
I have felt this even as a company owner when some friends realized that I was not going to the office everyday for long hours, and all my efforts were oriented toward that goal : be there less often.
[i]"Well you can do that because your stuff sells itself alone"[/i] (no, sorry folks, there is huge work behind that). [i]"it won't last"[/i] (lets see, my friend). Etc.
If I get that as a company owner, I imagine that an employee will get much more from his peers. And it makes the ROWE implementation very difficult.

And still ... the concept is appealing, but I can't see how it could be implemented in my company. You don't control incoming calls from customers. You don't control volume of orders to be prepared. You don't control hotline calls. You don't control machines that will need a fix within 12 hours. And you need no delays in answering to customers.
But, I am only at the beginning of the book and my reflexion ...

Lets see.

US41's picture

[quote]I think all managers [color=red][b]should[/b][/color] aspire[/quote]

Should is a bad word. Should appears in our speech and writing when we are preaching. It basically indicates that there is no evidence, no logic, no compelling reason known that can be provided to sway others. We use "should" to sway others with emotion, passion, and an appeal to our own personal desires. "Should" basically says "Do it my way to make me happy."

I think a manager would be foolish to encourage work from home in people that they are hoping to build relationships with. I have virtual teams and I have teams which are local to me. My local team becomes as if my right hand. My virtual team gets work done, but the relationship isn't the same. They aren't sitting next to me. They don't hear me defending them on the phone or with my boss. They don't see me praising them to others. They aren't sitting right there and I don't naturally reach out to them when I need immediate support.

The virtual team can get work results done, but the relationship possibilities are very limited even with extra effort.

That is because of the five human senses, sight is the most powerful and smell the next. Huge areas of the brain serve these two functions.

Without seeing people every day, the impact they make on you is simply not as powerful.

Even since the 1980's, social psychologists have known that attraction basically comes down to three major components: physical attractiveness, similarity, and geographical proximity. Almost any human relationship can be predicted in its success by how good looking, similar, and close to one another physically people are.

Forget about work from home and off-hours work. Humans are social. We form tribes. We always have. We prefer the people we see every day. If the boss is in New York, and you live in Dallas, and you want a promotion, move to New York and go sit outside your boss's office. Work the hours your boss works.

I understand wanting to aspire to a more humane, more sane, less emotion-based work environment. But to do so is to live in denial. It will not happen. We are all hard-wired to prevent it from succeeding.

We prefer in-person, close contact, on a regular basis with people like us. You can try to be different in this regard, but don't set your people up for failure by encouraging them to expect it or giving them work schedules which they will then follow to their doom with the rest of management.

When I got a new boss, I moved my cube to be closer to him, and to be on the same floor with his boss, and his boss, and his boss. My friends in other cities may be diligently working away, but I am sitting in the office late afternoons with all five levels above me having casual conversations.

Which of us succeeds by focusing on similarity (fitting in), physical attractiveness (good grooming and clothing), and geographical proximity (sitting outside the boss's office)?

The guys in other cities can't compete.

As a manager - I think one of our duties is to give feedback on behavior not just to please ourselves, but to prepare our directs for their next career move. We give feedback to encourage effective work behavior. Manager Tools is all about effectiveness.

That means working toward [b]what does work right now[/b] rather than what [b]should[/b] work.

cwatine's picture

US41-

It is a personal comment, based on your experience.
Can I contribute with mine?

I have a different feeling about the fact that geographical proximity is always an advantage. I run two sites. One is in the North, where I am based and the other is in the South (700 km from me). I do my O3s with people from both sites.
Do the closest ones get the better promotions? No. I just promoted one guy from the Southern site to be my responsible for sales. He was in competition with one sales rep who was based in the North.
Did I ask the guy from the south to move and live in the North next to me? No. I had no real reasons to impose that to him and his family. It would have been a mistake.

As the owner of the companies, I even made the decision to try not to go to the Northern location more often than to the Southern. I decided to reverse my calendar : write when I am in, not when I am out. Very difficult! I was feeling I had to justify myself in front of my people... I still strive with it.

I also don't think the message of the book is about not going to the office anymore. It is more on being judged on performance rather than on time spent. And the usual culture is usually not in that way. The change can't operate if the management is not in line with that.

Do the people who are far away from my headquarters work less ? I don't know.
Do they get less results? No. They are motivated. They work with goals, not by watching the clock.

I agree that we are "tribal animals", and I feel that we are able to keep that "tribal feeling" if we use the right tools and the right messages. We have technicians all over the territory and they are just like a family. They have frequent (phone and Email) communications and they have common values. When they physically meet, which is not often, they are just like old friends sharing stories about this or that customer and how they solved that problem etc.
Would there be more "tribal feeling" if they saw each other every day? No, there would be less because there would be less need for it!

I agree that "should" is usually a bad word. Now, managers and company owner should (ooops) look around a little bit to young people. Ask them about what motivates them. Usually, "autonomy", "control over my schedule" and "be judged on result" come first.
And manager and company will have to ADAPT. Or, they will not get the best people.

It also means that a special effort has to be made on communication, building a link and measuring results (individual and collective) instead of time spent.
It means less volume and more quality/intensity in the communication.

That means working toward what will [b]work better in the future[/b] rather than like [b]it worked in the past[/b].

I don't think it means that us managers need to please ourselves. On the contrary, we must make the effort to give to our directs the best working conditions. And it is always more complicated than in the past. I personally feel that things are changing and I am struggling to embrace those changes ...

Now, I think we agree that it would be stupid to change what is running perfect, just to look "modern"!

Ced.

dmcgill's picture

[quote]Most important, ROWE rests on a premise that is entirely consistent with much of what Mark and Mike talk about constantly: treating people with the respect they deserve to get optimal performance from them. By giving people REAL control over their time, they have the opportunity to manage the demands placed on them effectively. If they can't handle that responsibility, then they're unlikely to survive for long. If they can, then you've got highly productive people who, because of the control they have over their work life, are more likely to be happy, committed contributors to the organization.

[u]That's something I think all managers [i]should[/i] aspire to, whether or not that's the current reality[/u].[/quote]

US 41 -

Thanks for your thoughts. I don't really want to get into a linguistic battle here, but I have to respectfully disagree with parts of your previous post and clarify my position.

First, I have to take issue with the conclusion that "should" is a bad word. That is a massive oversimplification. It totally depends on the context.

"We should hire people who can perform the job effectively."

"We should hire only males who are 6'7" or taller."

Is anyone going to argue with the first proposition? And is anyone going to agree with the second one (other than the GM of an NBA basketball team - and even he/she would disagree if there was a 6'8" female who could score 30 a night)?

Second, when you look at how I used "should" in context, I'm confused by your criticism. I suggested that as managers, we SHOULD want "highly productive people who, because of the control they have over their work life, are more likely to be happy, committed contributors to the organization." If there's a manager out there who doesn't want this for their directs, then . . . well . . . I'm not sure how that's consistent with what we come to this website for.

Third, the concept of ROWE is not that managers "encourage people [to] work from home [when] they are hoping to build relationships with [them.]" This is not an issue of WHERE you work. The easy criticism about ROWE is, "all people work from home in their underwear." But that's not the concept. It's about giving directs AUTONOMY to manage their time more effectively.

Fourth, your point about tribes is absolutely correct. We are in 100% agreement there. And that's one of the interesting things about ROWE implementation - it's essentially the creation of a new tribal culture.

Now, you can say, perhaps correctly, that it's too difficult to tackle cultural issues, and you'd rather just deal with the tribe that you know and that you've been in your whole career. Unless you're in a position to address cultural issues from the top down, it's highly unlikely that you WILL be able to move away from the traditional tribal culture, so I understand your antipathy towards the concept.

But there are plenty of tribal (read, corporate) cultures that do inhumane, stupid things because that's the way they've always been done. Cultural change comes hard, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. We all visit this site to become more effective managers. The most effective managers - true leaders - CREATE NEW CULTURES within their organizations.

Fifth, you conclude by saying that "Manager Tools is all about effectiveness. That means working toward [b]what does work right now[/b] rather than what [b]should[/b] work."

Again, this takes my original "should" statement out of context. I'm not saying that ROWE "should" work. I'm not saying that ROWE is the silver bullet that fixes everything. I AM saying that ROWE is a concept that deserves consideration because we, as managers, have a responsibility not to perpetuate and inculcate tribal cultures that are fundamentally flawed. (At least that's my opinion.)

Read the book. Take from it one concept or nothing at all. You may still think this is pie in the sky stuff afterwards. But when you strip the concept down to its fundamentals, I think there's something there worth taking away.

Thanks a lot, US 41, for taking the time to post your thoughts on this. For what it's worth, I just took the last hour of my life to compose this response to your thoughtful criticisms . . .

on a weekend . . .

so . . .

either I have no life . . .

or . . .

I really enjoy the discussion.

I'm going with the latter to avoid becoming totally depressed.[/i]

US41's picture

If:

* we are coworkers on the same team
* we have the same performance
* you are in another city or are working from home regularly
* the boss and I physically go to lunch together once a week
* I visit our boss daily and we joke around

--> You'll eventually be reporting to me.

Everybody else in my company: Can I give you some feedback? When you work from home regularly, what happens is that I am seen as being the most dedicated and reliable person in our very unenlightened, non-futuristic organization. Keep up the great work! Thanks!!! :)

cwatine's picture

Hi US41-

I think noone can't disagree on that : "more communication is better". And all things beeing egual, the guy who is physically next to the boss always wins. The problem is : all things are never egual. All situation is a combination. I will always prefer a guy getting result 700 km from my office. Of course, I will prefer him next to me... Except if it makes him stressed because he is away from family and gets problems in his personnal life and gets lower results...

My idea was not to advice EMPLOYEES to stay away from the company as much as possible. I am sorry if I was not clear about that.
My idea was to advice MANAGERS to open themselves on the fact that there were new expectations from their employees.

One of those expectation (the very important one, outlined in the book) is that [b]they want to be judged on their results and not on the time they spend at the office[/b].

It means that we managers can't hide from this new growing demand. I am afraid that if we don't, it also means we don't PAY ATTENTION and LISTEN to them.
And, this new situation forces us to even more reinforce our communication.

Regards,

Ced-

AManagerTool's picture

Ced,

I am in the middle of reading the book and want to comment but feel that it may be premature. So far I am hearing that we need to eliminate SLUDGE (Their word for negative comments about other people's work habits as they relate to time)....which is basically trying to change the employee culture of your workplace. The idea is to try to stop people from talking about people's time commitments and foster a more congenial attitude towards results only metrics.

All I can say is ... that's NICE. HOW? I haven't read the how yet. Stay tuned...

cwatine's picture

I agree.
To clarify : you mean time spent. Goals are still time bound.

I have not finished the book yet and a lots of things are still unclear for me... But the approach is interesting in the sense that it makes you think out of the box.

US41's picture

I' m sorry, Cedwat, I'm just not seeing how any of this is effective for us to know nor how we use it.

[quote]they want to be judged on their results and not on the time they spend at the office.[/quote]

Uhh, doesn't the boss decide what people will be judged on and measured by? I'd like to be paid for playing video games for three hours and then hanging out with my friends. I doubt that desire will translate into anything effective.

[quote]It means that we managers can't hide from this new growing demand.[/quote]

Yes, we can. We pay salaries and can measure what we choose.

From a manager's perspective doing performance management, yes, I agree that results are important. Sometimes punctuality and showing up are important to results. Some times they are not.

However, if you think of yourself as a manager in a larger organization ignoring that every other manager measures other things for success, while *you* might be happy measuring a few metrics, your team's reputation will suffer if you encourage them to engage in behavior that is frowned upon by other managers.

My company frowns on work from home. If I send all of my folks home to work because I don't see any change in results from them being in the office, the other managers start saying, "US41's people don't work very hard."

Then when my team is dissolved or I move on, they are all exposed with this reputation for being a bunch of slackers.

I might have been perfectly correct in measuring the metrics I chose, but I would warn everyone away from trying to choose those metrics in a vacuum. Those of us in big companies who manage only part of the overall organization can do our people great harm by pandering to short-term desires like work from home or off-hours shifts if the other surrounding groups frown upon it.

Our goal is to be effective. When I think of effectiveness, I think of:

* What gets me the results I want
* What gets the employees the results they *need* (not just want)
* What works with my boss
* What works within the larger organization and helps us fit in

That top line-item is often focused upon by middle managers to their own surprising downfall.

cwatine's picture

US41-

First of all, thank you for your time and interest in the subject. I feel that it is as questionning for you than it is for me.

[quote]I' m sorry, Cedwat, I'm just not seeing how any of this is effective for us to know nor how we use it.[/quote]

I have not found any perfect receipe for that. I just find that it is interesting to exchange on the subject and not close the discussion too quickly because this could represent an important trend in tomorrow's companies.

[quote]Uhh, doesn't the boss decide what people will be judged on and measured by? I'd like to be paid for playing video games for three hours and then hanging out with my friends. I doubt that desire will translate into anything effective. [/quote]

Yes he does and they can decide to stay or leave. I'd like not to pay my people for working 12 hours a day and then cleaning my cars (hey don't believe me on that :wink: ). I doubt that it will translate to anything.
I mean that there must be a minimum concensus. The consensus is based on the output you get from people (results)

[quote]Yes, we can. We pay salaries and can measure what we choose. [/quote]

I agree that any boss can choose to pay people based on time spent. And he will get what he paid for : time spent.

[quote]From a manager's perspective doing performance management, yes, I agree that results are important. Sometimes punctuality and showing up are important to results. Some times they are not.[/quote]

100% agreed.

[quote]However, if you think of yourself as a manager in a larger organization .... My company frowns on work from home. ... the other managers start saying, "US41's people don't work very hard." Then when my team is dissolved or I move on, they are all exposed with this reputation for being a bunch of slackers. [/quote]

Again, 100% agreed. You are in an organization and if it says "pay people by time spent", or "no work from home", you must follow the rules your organization. No question. Accept it or leave.
My point is : organization will have to take this new type of relation into account if they want to attract high potentials. Not money only will do.
I know that I am not giving you any tool or receipe to use here. As a company owner who can choose the management policy (within the regulations limits :wink: ), I am just interested in new trends and in adaptations they may require from my organization.

[quote]I might have been perfectly correct in measuring the metrics I chose, but I would warn everyone away from trying to choose those metrics in a vacuum. Those of us in big companies who manage only part of the overall organization can do our people great harm by pandering to short-term desires like work from home or off-hours shifts if the other surrounding groups frown upon it.[/quote]

Your metrics must be in line with the organization goals. I understand also your concern about the judgements from other groups. It can harm your team greatly.

[quote]Our goal is to be effective. When I think of effectiveness, I think of:
* What gets me the results I want
* What gets the employees the results they *need* (not just want)
* What works with my boss
* What works within the larger organization and helps us fit in
That top line-item is often focused upon by middle managers to their own surprising downfall.[/quote]

Yes, our goal is also to get results. We need to do that without violating behaviors, policies imposed by the company.
Now, if you are in a company that is result-focussed and your boss accepts to let you manage with a carte-blanche. And your team gets the best results in the company. And you begin to attract the best potentials in the Group, etc, etc.
Your boss will be happy.

I understand that what we are discussing is not possible in any environment. I understand how risky it can be.
Still, I am interested in digging the subject and find how to reduce the risk and increase the mutual benefits.
I don't want to reject the idea just because it sometimes can't work. In French we would say "I don't want to throw away the baby with the water from the bath" (does that work in English to?)

Thank you again for this interesting discussion.

Ced-

rwwh's picture

[quote="US41"]Uhh, doesn't the boss decide what people will be judged on and measured by? I'd like to be paid for playing video games for three hours and then hanging out with my friends. I doubt that desire will translate into anything effective. [/quote]

I agree that the general evidence in on your side.

However, some people are an order of magnitude more efficient at their jobs than average, especially in software engineering. I guess what Cedric is trying to say is that he gets 2x more productivity out of such a highly effective guy paid a full salary for 8 hours of work and 32 hours of slack than from a "regular" employee that comes in to the office 5x8. And the highly effective guy may continue looking for jobs until he finds a boss like Cedric that allows him to play video games 6 hours per day as long as his performance is excellent in the other 2.

US41's picture

[quote="cedwat"]
Now, if you are in a company that is result-focussed and your boss accepts to let you manage with a carte-blanche. And your team gets the best results in the company. And you begin to attract the best potentials in the Group, etc, etc.
Your boss will be happy.
[/quote]

What will happen to the member of my team after I resign, am fired, am promoted, moved to another department, or become sick or die?

My people will have a reputation for being "slackers." Even we get the best results for my boss, another manager will come in and view them as weak. They will not be treated well nor cared for.

In a large company, you have to worry about more than what your boss's perception is. Your peers (you may have 20 of them) under your boss also matter, and so do the opinions of their reports who are managers, and so on.

Even if I am enlightened enough to do this and measure purely by results, because it is doubtful my peers are, I will still be causing my people harm by allowing them to appear ineffective even as they get results.

Everyone will simply say, "US41 could have tripled those results if he had not been such a weak, overly sympathetic softy."

I believe it is this test that causes liberal WFH to fail employees.

I had the same discussion with a gentleman at the conference in Newark regarding doing O3's via instant messenger. Yes, it works in your company. Yes, you think it is effective. You are getting what you want. Your employee loves it, too. It's great.

Now that employee leaves your company and comes to mine. It turns out you failed him. He never got the feedback from you about how to present in front of a boss by using IM. Instead, he is incompetent at in-person boss meetings. The greatest effect I find from O3's is the confidence that directs get from meeting with you regularly. They start to give feedack. They start to complain openly. You start to hear the truth about what is going on. And they learn how to express it effectively as you give feedback on their presentation.

The same thing is true for a team doing WFH every day. Yes, it works in your company. Yes, you work with it fine. Then later in their career or in your company's growth, it is no longer effective, and they have missed all of that opportunity to ready themselves for more professional behavior that is more than just common: it is ubiquitous, it is reality, it is human nature, and it will not change.

So, I support you in doing this in your company. I will not do it with my people because I am doing more than just creating a team that generates results for me. I am trying to build the future directors and executives of my company. They cannot succeed if I position them so that they appear ineffective despite their results.

As a parent I face the same issue. I would rather never scold my child. However, leaving them in a no-consequences environment at home destroys their ability to succeed at school, in personal relationships, and at work later. We teach our children manners because they are needed everywhere.

Yes, the world would be a better place if manners and being in the office were not so inherently desired by managers around the world. But they are, and that's just what I have to deal with.

cwatine's picture

[quote="rwwh"]... until he finds a boss like Cedric that allows him to play video games 6 hours per day as long as his performance is excellent in the other 2.[/quote]

This is the idea. And I have to say : I am not such a boss (yet?) :oops:

One thing that I have already said to my sales people was : "I don't really care where you are if you exceed you goals".
And to my hotliners and techs : "appart results, your only obligation is to be reachable from x to y and have access to our system"

This is something I did with some people because they ALREADY were in a "nomad" position.

cwatine's picture

[quote]What will happen to the member of my team after I resign, am fired, am promoted, moved to another department, or become sick or die?
My people will have a reputation for being "slackers." Even we get the best results for my boss, another manager will come in and view them as weak. They will not be treated well nor cared for.
In a large company, you have to worry about more than what your boss's perception is. Your peers (you may have 20 of them) under your boss also matter, and so do the opinions of their reports who are managers, and so on.[/quote]

I understand that I have completely underestimated what they call "sludging" in the book. Honnestly, I found the book to be insisting too much and I did not understand why because my focuss was more on : "Okay, but how can I implement this and what will the results be ?"
Thank you for underlining this aspect, US41.

[quote]Even if I am enlightened enough to do this and measure purely by results, because it is doubtful my peers are, I will still be causing my people harm by allowing them to appear ineffective even as they get results.
Everyone will simply say, "US41 could have tripled those results if he had not been such a weak, overly sympathetic softy."[/quote]

The answer to your question above could be : "US41 has results which are 15% above anyone in the organization. Any questions now?"

[quote]I had the same discussion with a gentleman at the conference in Newark regarding doing O3's via instant messenger. Yes, it works in your company. Yes, you think it is effective. You are getting what you want. Your employee loves it, too. It's great.[/quote]

No. O3 are best face to face and, if you can't, by phone.
I would never remove that principle. Because this is the very best tool I have ever used in management. If there is a limit this is it.

[quote]Now that employee leaves your company and comes to mine. It turns out you failed him.[/quote]

I will be very honnest on that : I don't care at all. He is not working for me anymore. I have much to do caring about people when they are "inside". I can't care about when they are "outside" my company.
And ... Do you think he will even think about going there ? :wink:
More seriously : I will not base my policy on the fact that if they go somewhere else, they would be lost. I will try to get the best for them and the company when they are in it.

[quote]The same thing is true for a team doing WFH every day. Yes, it works in your company. Yes, you work with it fine. [/quote]

More : if it represents a competitive advantage, I have the duty to do it. If it drains better people in my company, I need to give it a thought.

[quote]Then later in their career or in your company's growth, it is no longer effective, and they have missed all of that opportunity to ready themselves for more professional behavior that is more than just common: it is ubiquitous, it is reality, it is human nature, and it will not change.
[/quote]
I am afraid that the WFH vision is restrictive compared to what the book is talking about. It is more about measuring performance and not time spent. This doesn't mean WFH.
Also, I have not finished the book yet and at this time I find some principles very difficult to understand/accept. More on that in my next post.

[quote]So, I support you in doing this in your company. I will not do it with my people because I am doing more than just creating a team that generates results for me. I am trying to build the future directors and executives of my company. They cannot succeed if I position them so that they appear ineffective despite their results.[/quote]

You are right. You can't go against your company culture and policy.
What would interest me is : what would you change if carte blanche was given to you ?

[quote]As a parent I face the same issue. I would rather never scold my child. However, leaving them in a no-consequences environment at home destroys their ability to succeed at school, in personal relationships, and at work later. We teach our children manners because they are needed everywhere.[/quote]

I fully agree about children. I am trying to give them anything they need for the future even if it sometimes means being hard with them.
AND I can't transpose that to my employees. My employees are adults. I care for them when they are working for me, as long as they get results and follow the rules. I keep the good ones and I try to get rid of the bad ones.

And ... They say in the book that relations, team spirit, etc were better after ROWE was implemented, because of the feeling of trust the employees felt.
Again, I have no interest in promoting anything. I just found this an extremely interesting experiment.

[quote]Yes, the world would be a better place if manners and being in the office were not so inherently desired by managers around the world. But they are, and that's just what I have to deal with.[/quote]

One thing they explained in the book was that the volontary turnover dramatically went down and the unvolontary turnover went up, after they implemented ROWE (Result Only Work Environement).
Their analysis is : more people wanted to stay because they felt well in that environement. And more people were fired because they were judged on results and could not hide behind hours.
I feel you see a boss that would allow a certain liberty in organization as a softy. I think the opposite : it is more difficult to organize and you cannot hide yourself behind the idea that : "well he did not get the results, but he put in it so many hours ..."

No way for that. :wink:

cwatine's picture

I have nearly finished the book.
At this time, I did not "love" the book because of its negative points.
However I think it is a must read if you want to challenge the traditional vision of the company and brainstorm about what could be the future and what would be appealing for the next generation.

[u][i]Positive: [/i][/u]

WHAT AN INTERESTING CONVERSATION WE HAD ABOUT IT!
Forces you to question about how you measure results for everyone in the company! In fact : do you really measure it?
Based on a real experiment
Eye opener on some counter productive pratices we have in companies
Very questionning
Testimonials help us understand how employes sometimes think

[u][i]Negative:[/i][/u]

Too negative about the traditional company
Too vague about how-to do it
A lots of redondancies
Not enough about "how to maintain the contact"
Not enough about organization
Not enough about the limit of the system (but I think it is on purpose)

[u][i]Questions pending & limits[/i][/u]

[i]Questions[/i]
- How do you deal with employees who have to be on-site to prepare orders when they arrive?
- How do you fix goals if you don't have the time-spent in the equation? I suppose by increasing the goal each year?
- "You don't go to Meetings if you think you don't need so" ... What? No way!
- How do you deal with legal constraints? All our system is based on time spent!

[i]Limits I would put.[/i]
O3 and team meeting must stay.
And, you'd get in trouble if :
- you make a customer wait
- you come late to a meeting
- you don't get results

rwwh's picture

[quote="cedwat"]- "You don't go to Meetings if you think you don't need so" ... What? No way![/quote]

I have conflicting thoughts about this myself:
* effective meetings should not waste anyones time.
but:
* In practice some meetings are not effective.

* LEAN tells you never to have multi-topic meetings, as many people will be innocent ineffective bystanders.
but:
* I have often seen very helpful remarks and solutions come from unexpected people.

I do allow people to skip a meeting, if they have a valid reason. They can decide for themselves whether their reason is valid (and will get feedback if I disagree). Our rules are clear: if you skip a meeting, you implicitly agree to all decisions made in that meeting, and you are obliged to carefully study the minutes because not going to the meeting is not a reason to lack knowledge about what is going on.

cwatine's picture

Rob-

Sorry, I was too fast. Thank you for your remark.

What I meant : there are some meetings that I feel can't be skipped : for example, O3 and Team meeting because they are the foundation of our management and our strategy.

And ... I am open to any discussion about not attending a meeting if you have a very good reason.
My structure is pretty small so meetings are not so frequent. I know it is not always the same in big structures (I have worked several years for a big group before) so I suppose this is what the authors of the book meant... But I felt they went too far when saying something like :
* "Every meeting is optional" : I disagree clearly
* "If work gets done, a meeting is work, if not ... it is ... a fancy waste of time"
I disagree because later in the book they explain the feeling of being part of a team they get when they meet at work. So I think meeting are still necessary for building relation, communication and coordination.

And... Would you be so kind to give me more information about LEAN and meetings? We are selling LEAN mission at our customer's (to optimize their production) and I have never heard about that! I would love to learn more.

Ced-

US41's picture

[quote="cedwat"][quote]Now that employee leaves your company and comes to mine. It turns out you failed him.[/quote]

I will be very honest on that : I don't care at all. He is not working for me anymore. I have much to do caring about people when they are "inside". I can't care about when they are "outside" my company.
And ... Do you think he will even think about going there ? :wink:
More seriously : I will not base my policy on the fact that if they go somewhere else, they would be lost. I will try to get the best for them and the company when they are in it. [/quote]

Then that is the crux of our disagreement. I agree with Mike and Mark that my responsibility to my folks is richer than merely extracting from them maximum performance for me in the moment. I want to develop them, and that means that they have to do things which will be stretches for them or perhaps less efficient for me which will prepare them for their next level up. I owe it to the company to do this, and I try to pay forward what was done for me selflessly by others.

If my previous boss had not felt the way I do, I would still be reporting to him doing exactly what I was doing two years ago, and I would never be able to post these messages and never would have met the guys from Manager Tools.

And it all comes back to enlightened self-interest anyway. My previous boss now has a peer who feels a sense of personal debt. His network is expanded both in width and depth.

cwatine's picture

Outch! I think the thing we disagree the most is how you see my idea about management and I want to reajust that asap!

Two things :
1) I would not call our opinions about ROWE a disagreement
2) I need to readjust your idea about how I see management

1) More than a disagreement, I feel it is a context difference.

You are in the the position of a manager who runs his directs following his company policy in an ethical manner and I respect that. I also respect the fact that you want to develop your people and that's my opinion about management too. I even think it is the core of management.

I am in the position of a company owner who wants to give the best to his people and also get the best performance. Maybe some ROWE principles can help with that.
As a company owner, I can't reject a good principle because my people risk to be disapointed if they leave the company and land in the company that doesn't propose those principles they liked when they were working for me.
I think it would be :
- a strategic mistake
- a lost opportunity to propose something good for them on a personal point of view

2) Now, about my management

As a manager, I coach my directs so they can develop. This is also my responsibility. I do it because it is good for the company and for them.
I dont do it so they can go to other companies. I think exactly the opposite. High performer will leave if they don't get a chance to develop.
And ... My purpose is never limited to short term performance.

Sorry if my words gave you a different impression.

rwwh's picture

[quote="cedwat"]And... Would you be so kind to give me more information about LEAN and meetings? We are selling LEAN mission at our customer's (to optimize their production) and I have never heard about that! I would love to learn more.[/quote]

Oops! I am a beginner at LEAN. Mostly involved in LEAN Development (also called the Toyota Product Development System). I had a training from Ronald Mascitelli in February this year, and one of the points he brought up is that meetings addressing a series of agenda points are not LEAN, since many people are only interested in a subset of the agenda and thus are not effective during the rest of the meeting.

This was one of the points during the training where we had serious discussions because we did not all agree blindly....

cwatine's picture

I have finished the book.
The last chapter is interesting as it gives answers to more questions. But still the process and principles of putting in place ROWE are unclear.

I was wondering why the ideas developed in the book were so appealling to me.

I think I know.

I clearly remember my first days in a company. I felt it was constraints everywhere : schedules, long meetings etc. I felt the "accessory" was more important than the "core" (results). I felt I was considered as a child again. At first all of this was draining more energy from me than work itself. It was even worst for my younger brother when he began to work. As a programmer, he did not understand why he had to show up at 8.45 in the morning. Of course I said he was wrong and that it was a question of respect, etc. But was he so wrong?

I think it was one of the several reasons why I decided to run a company. Not the only one, but surely one of them. I wanted to get control over my time. Now I have it and it does not mean that I work less. But I have this feeling of being able to choose.
In my opinion, more than power or money or anything, it is the supreme privilege of the company owner (or independant worker).
I can take one week off to be with my daughter when she needs me to be at hospital with her (but I will still do my O3 from the car park of the hospital !). Or to spend one week with some friends in Spain, and still be i touch with the business Etc.

And ... I wonder how I could give this sense of control or a part of it to my employees. It would be at the same time a fantastic tool for retention and a fantastic gift fot them.

jhack's picture

Working from home requires work to be structured so that you’re effective. A day spent on the phone and filling out paperwork could be anywhere. You can “do lunch” with someone when working at home. The closer you are to executive ranks, however, the less effective you’ll be working from home…it’s best suited for individual contributors and line managers, and some directors.

One can choose to be a great manager, and not focus on ladder climbing. You didn’t move to Chicago HQ, and didn’t get the promotion. Your team still performs, you enjoy your job, and you live close to your aging parents. It’s a choice – neither path is better, they’re just different. Companies need great managers up and down the org chart.

Many jobs require travel, customer visits, supplier facility inspections, strategy offsites, and so on. Staying in the office full time would limit the tribe size, and make one less effective. In some companies, the managers who stay in the office all the time are the ones who don’t get promotions.

Horstman’s rule #8: Embrace reality. Consulting firms, retail, manufacturing, apparel, and a host of other industries require geographically distributed organizations. Vertically integrated, geographically concentrated firms are becoming less common.

Reminds me of Shel Silverstein’s line: “If you’re a bird, be an early bird; but if you’re a worm, sleep late.” Adapt to your company. If (like US41) your company is centralized and vertical, be in the office. If your directs are in three countries on two continents, and there’s an ocean between you and your manager (like me), then a different approach is required.

If you’ve figured out ways to be effective without being in the office with your team and your boss every day, please follow this link and post your lessons learned: http://www.manager-tools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=23364

John

PS: Pioneers in any endeavor often end up alone in the wilderness. Those willing to work for change are laudable…and they should realize that it won’t happen quickly, easily, or maybe at all. On the other hand, like O3’s, it might just work, and it might just catch on in some places…

cwatine's picture

John-

That was just perfect.

Thanks.

Céd-

cwatine's picture

[quote]Many jobs require travel, customer visits, supplier facility inspections, strategy offsites, and so on. Staying in the office full time would limit the tribe size, and make one less effective. In some companies, the managers who stay in the office all the time are the ones who don’t get promotions. [/quote]

That is so true. In my opinion, managers who stay in the office permanently sometimes slowly lose contact with the market.

I have two site managers. Both are extremely dedicated to the company.

One of them is visiting suppliers to see new products and to discuss with them how to increase collaboration through lean integrtion. He also visits customers when there are logistic problems or to see how to increase collaboration, too. Each times he does that, he comes back to the office with brand new ideas and more energy. He also organises visits for his team, presentations, etc.
How can he do that?
He has developed his management around O3 and team meeting.

The other one is just beginning to put in place his manager-tools. Our purpose is to free him from inside work by increasing delegation AND performance control to his direct. I am sure he and his team will greatly benefit from it.

_______________________________

My profound opinion about relationship is "quality is better than quantity". People prefer to have quality time with their peers or manager or directs on a regular basis than a less qualitative relation all the time.
I find O3 so powerfull because they are time-limited. It allows me to be perfectly focussed to the person I have in front of me, for 1/2 hour. Of course communication has to be regular and consistent.
I find it easier to be regular and consistent by limiting my time with my directs. When I don't, I begin to interfere too much with their day-to-day work.

PersephoneK's picture

[quote="US41"]
What will happen to the member of my team after I resign, am fired, am promoted, moved to another department, or become sick or die?

My people will have a reputation for being "slackers." Even we get the best results for my boss, another manager will come in and view them as weak. They will not be treated well nor cared for.

In a large company, you have to worry about more than what your boss's perception is. Your peers (you may have 20 of them) under your boss also matter, and so do the opinions of their reports who are managers, and so on.

Even if I am enlightened enough to do this and measure purely by results, because it is doubtful my peers are, I will still be causing my people harm by allowing them to appear ineffective even as they get results.

Everyone will simply say, "US41 could have tripled those results if he had not been such a weak, overly sympathetic softy."[/quote]

This totally baffles me. If your group A gets result X and result X is larger than group B's result Z, how can your boss or anyone who replaces you after your untimely death remotely call your people slackers? In a true ROWE, perception is no longer an option. People either perform or they don't. If management is unsure whether a person is performing, it is managements fault for not establishing clear and legitimate measurable goals.

You made an earlier comment about time and punctuality being important sometimes. Again, this is about perception. If being on time is truly important, then the employee will be on time because they know they cannot obtain the required results unless they are. There are about two examples I can think of in the world where this would actually be true... Doctor saving someone's life and Law Enforcement needing to take down a madman. So many other "fire drills' are the result of management not knowing when they've had their own heads up their backsides.

Best Buy's productivity has gone up about 41%, turnover is down and people are happy. What more can you ask for? These are measureable results from a HUGE Fortune 100 company. And BB didn't go ROWE all at once. There was a period of time when some people were not ROWE. I'm sure at least one of those managers died, and life still continued...

PersephoneK's picture

[quote="cedwat"]I have finished the book.
The last chapter is interesting as it gives answers to more questions. But still the process and principles of putting in place ROWE are unclear.

I was wondering why the ideas developed in the book were so appealling to me.

I think I know.

I clearly remember my first days in a company. I felt it was constraints everywhere : schedules, long meetings etc. I felt the "accessory" was more important than the "core" (results). I felt I was considered as a child again. At first all of this was draining more energy from me than work itself. It was even worst for my younger brother when he began to work. As a programmer, he did not understand why he had to show up at 8.45 in the morning. Of course I said he was wrong and that it was a question of respect, etc. But was he so wrong?

I think it was one of the several reasons why I decided to run a company. Not the only one, but surely one of them. I wanted to get control over my time. Now I have it and it does not mean that I work less. But I have this feeling of being able to choose.
In my opinion, more than power or money or anything, it is the supreme privilege of the company owner (or independant worker).
I can take one week off to be with my daughter when she needs me to be at hospital with her (but I will still do my O3 from the car park of the hospital !). Or to spend one week with some friends in Spain, and still be i touch with the business Etc.

And ... I wonder how I could give this sense of control or a part of it to my employees. It would be at the same time a fantastic tool for retention and a fantastic gift fot them.[/quote]

I think you got it perfectly figured out.

US41's picture

[quote="PersephoneK"]This totally baffles me. If your group A gets result X and result X is larger than group B's result Z, how can your boss or anyone who replaces you after your untimely death remotely call your people slackers? In a true ROWE, perception is no longer an option. [/quote]

Perception IS reality. Human beings believe what they perceive, not what is. You can have the most incredible results ever, and your peers will think that those results are half of what they could have achieved had they been allowed to be in charge and crack down on slacker activities like WFH.

The reality is that what you think are good results are not the measure of others' ideas about good results. If getting good sales numbers, for example, would immunize you against everything, then your clothes, your ability to articulate, your stage presence, your haircut, your car, your cube's position relative to the windows (or the presence of a door on your office), your title, rumors, and relationships would not matter.

What, you think the world is made of high-D's? I's, S's, C's - they don't care about results so much, folks. C's focus on process, S's focus on stability, and I's focus on relationships.

You go get great results, and the C's will say you broke the rules by not having your folks in the office. The S's will say you upset everyone by pushing change. The I's will say that you weren't around to go to lunch and therefore are off the radar and out of the running for the real jobs.

Come on, guys. Read your Machiavelli.

Results are great, but they will not immunize you from the perceptions of others. Humans are too different. They will say that the metrics you set were too low. They will claim that you could have done twice as much. They will say that your team was brutalized to achieve those results and that everyone wants to quit. Your detractors will snipe at you no matter your results.

Get the results, but also be mindful of marketing. Sit your folks down in their chairs so that they are seen as working and manage perception as well. Teach your folks to manage perception and you teach them to not only DO their jobs, but to also advertise themselves as successful.

cwatine's picture

US41-

I understand what you mean and I agree on the fact that perception is reality. My perception is my reality. Your perception is your reality. Etc.
Some people will not see your results as their perception will be completely focused on the fact that you have broken the rules. I agree.
This means that a ROWE principle will not be implemented if top management is not absolutely convinced about its validity.
And, as a manager, you have to comply with your company policy.
My point is that new generation are asking for ROWE environment and it means that companies will have to take that into account. Their perception will have to change over time ...

There are 3 points where I think we disagree, or misunderstand each other :

- You limit ROWE to WFH. It is more than just that. And I feel it is unfair for those ROWE people to limit their theory just to this point.

- I understand that you think ROWE will never be superior than classical "time counted" methods purely on a result point of view. I don't agree. It can be the right way to go and get results.

- You say I should not open myself to such a principle because my employees could get lost when they go in another company and don't have those advantages. I disagree because as a company owner, my mission is to use the best I can find for my company performance and employees.

When you say that there are D, I, S and C people, you seem to admit there are different way to deal with different people. You seem to say that S and C would not feel good in a ROWE.
Do you mean that D would be more at ease in a ROWE?
If so, why do you accept to impose "time-based" on those D who would feel better in a ROWE ?

Ced.

PersephoneK's picture

[quote="US41"][quote="PersephoneK"]This totally baffles me. If your group A gets result X and result X is larger than group B's result Z, how can your boss or anyone who replaces you after your untimely death remotely call your people slackers? In a true ROWE, perception is no longer an option. [/quote]

Perception IS reality. Human beings believe what they perceive, not what is. You can have the most incredible results ever, and your peers will think that those results are half of what they could have achieved had they been allowed to be in charge and crack down on slacker activities like WFH.

The reality is that what you think are good results are not the measure of others' ideas about good results. If getting good sales numbers, for example, would immunize you against everything, then your clothes, your ability to articulate, your stage presence, your haircut, your car, your cube's position relative to the windows (or the presence of a door on your office), your title, rumors, and relationships would not matter.

What, you think the world is made of high-D's? I's, S's, C's - they don't care about results so much, folks. C's focus on process, S's focus on stability, and I's focus on relationships.

You go get great results, and the C's will say you broke the rules by not having your folks in the office. The S's will say you upset everyone by pushing change. The I's will say that you weren't around to go to lunch and therefore are off the radar and out of the running for the real jobs.

Come on, guys. Read your Machiavelli.

Results are great, but they will not immunize you from the perceptions of others. Humans are too different. They will say that the metrics you set were too low. They will claim that you could have done twice as much. They will say that your team was brutalized to achieve those results and that everyone wants to quit. Your detractors will snipe at you no matter your results.

Get the results, but also be mindful of marketing. Sit your folks down in their chairs so that they are seen as working and manage perception as well. Teach your folks to manage perception and you teach them to not only DO their jobs, but to also advertise themselves as successful.[/quote]

In a ROWE it doesn't matter. That's the point. All that other stuff you mention is total BS and useless in a ROWE. So reality is reality and perception is thrown to the dogs... unless what you see is what you get. C's may focus on process, but if they don't perform, they'll get fired. S's and I's can focus on whatever they want and say whatever they want, but in a ROWE they'll be sludging people which is against the rules. They're the rule breakers and if they're not performing, they're out too.

Why would you want to live in a world where people can get away with being manipulative and underhanded if you don't have to? When I apply for a job, they tell me what that job entails. That's all that should matter. If I want the rest of the drama, I'll watch soap operas.

HMac's picture

[quote="PersephoneK"]In a ROWE it doesn't matter. That's the point. All that other stuff you mention is total BS and useless in a ROWE. So reality is reality and perception is thrown to the dogs...[/quote]

This is feeling a little bit theoretical, and I've really stayed out of the conversation because I didn't have anything to add except my opinion. But then I realized: [i]WAIT! I KNOW PEOPLE [/i]who work in a ROWE environment! So I talked to them.

I asked friends who work at Best Buy headquarters in Minnesota about this (for those of you who aren't following ROWE, Best Buy is one of the most visible users of the ROWE approach).

ROWE "adds some flexibility" and "people seem to like it" - but it hasn't rewired the human condition. It doesn't override or negate peoples' personalities - which they still bring to their work.

Yes, the [i]idea [/i]of results has become more front-and-center in communications in and around the company. But it HASN'T ELIMINATED politics, judgment, and other things which are part of any organization with more than one employee.

Truth be told, they're a lot less focused on ROWE than you might think. It's just part of the place. Along with everything else.

-Hugh

US41's picture

[quote="cedwat"]US41-

I understand what you mean[/quote]

I'm afraid I have not been very clear, because I don't agree with any of what you wrote above regarding my position.

[quote]- You limit ROWE to WFH. It is more than just that. And I feel it is unfair for those ROWE people to limit their theory just to this point.[/quote]

I am using it as an example to show that humans are not machines and you cannot create a ROWE. It is ivory-tower thinking. If you believe you work in a totally results oriented environment, then go to work naked and see what happens. You will be judged on your lack of clothing, not your results. Your results will be forgotten immediately.

You do not work in such an environment. Such an environment does not exist. It will never exist. Humans don't work that way.

I do not enforce a time-clock on my people. I simply recommend to them that they limit their WFH in a vertical, locally-based office because in that office an empty cube gives the perception of mal-performance.

I know people who deliver incredible results, but because they are loud, argumentative, frequently absent from work physically, or dress poorly, they are not thought highly of.

This is not the environment I prefer. It is simply a fact of living among humans that we must consider not just what we feel is important, but also what humans are instinctively hard-wired to demand of others: physical attractiveness, sociability, charm, etiquette, and fitting in. If you think frequent WFH in a local office is interpreted as fitting in, you're wrong. The people who come to work every day interpret it to mean "I don't like spending time with you."

Please someone point me to the MT podcast where Mark talks about how you do not need to fit in, dress for success, improve your presentation skills, and send thank you notes because humans can be taught to focus only on results.

MT is about being effective in the field in the real world. This entire discussion has been about theories and concepts that will never exist outside of a lab because they fly in the face of the human experience.

mikebz's picture

I've really enjoyed reading this dialogue; it has inspired me to sign up and explore the rest of the site.

While I found myself wanting to vehemently argue with US41's standpoint, perhaps there is an implicit assumption that's more relevant to discuss. Consider these comments:

[quote]I will not do it with my people because I am doing more than just creating a team that generates results for me. I am trying to build the future directors and executives of my company.[/quote]

[quote]When I got a new boss, I moved my cube to be closer to him, and to be on the same floor with his boss, and his boss, and his boss. My friends in other cities may be diligently working away, but I am sitting in the office late afternoons with all five levels above me having casual conversations.[/quote]

This seems to clearly point to two things:

(1) US41's goal is to "move up the ladder".
(2) US41 is casting that objective onto his reports.

There are many highly intelligent, qualified, and diligent folks in the workforce these days who have [i]little to no interest[/i] in that type of career progression, either because it is inherently not appealing, or because it is not nearly worth the cost in other areas of life.

It seems shortsighted to discount a career of individual contribution or serial project management of engaging, interesting, fulfilling work that does not position an employee to follow a standard advancement-style career path - especially if it fulfills an employee [i]overall[/i].

Moreover, why can't the objective of the management function be to enable the employee to fulfill the objectives of the role itself, while also positioning the employee to achieve what [i]he or she actually wants[/i] rather than assuming everyone wants to "advance"?

Why is it a disservice to create an effective, results-oriented structure for someone whose objective is to have flexibility to take care of a sick parent? or to pursue a rigorous marathon training schedule? or to volunteer afternoons in a soup kitchen?

If that person is fulfilling the requirements of the job - meeting or exceeding expectations - and is not a limiting factor in anyone else achieving his/her job requirements... why MUST an additional requirement be imposed that this particular person must be kept on a fixed schedule in the office, in order to allow for advancement or a shaky perception of job security, neither of which may be important to that person?

HMac's picture

[quote="mikebz"]I've really enjoyed reading this dialogue; it has inspired me to sign up and explore the rest of the site.[/quote]

mikebz: welcome to the fray. I hope you really do follow up on your intent and explore the rest of the site and, most especially, listen to the podcasts which are the spine of Manager-Tools.

I'm an active poster, and in my opinion this thread is not typical of M-T. [b][i]I'm not knocking this discussion[/i][/b], only saying that it's not very representative of an approach which the authors pride themselves on being [u]low on theory/high on application[/u].

If you select [i]"What is Manager Tools"[/i] on the "About" dropdown on the main page, you'll find this description:

[quote]Manager Tools is a weekly podcast focused on helping you become a more effective manager and leader. Each week we’ll be talking about new tools and easy techniques you can use to help achieve your management and career objectives. If you’re tired of a lot of management theory and would rather learn specific actions you can take TODAY to improve your management performance, we think you’ll enjoy the manager tools podcast. [/quote]

This discussion is fun, it's enlightening; it's challenging. It features six or seven of the most thoughtful and prolific posters on the site; people who I love to read and mix it up with.

It's also unlike most of the discussions and the podcasts, and maybe that's because it's on the "Favorite Books" thread, which often produces more theorectical posts.

At any rate mike, dive in - you'll find lots of great stuff in Manager-Tools!

-Hugh

US41's picture

[quote]If that person is fulfilling the requirements of the job - meeting or exceeding expectations - and is not a limiting factor in anyone else achieving his/her job requirements... why MUST an additional requirement be imposed that this particular person must be kept on a fixed schedule in the office, in order to allow for advancement or a shaky perception of job security, neither of which may be important to that person?[/quote]

I don't keep anyone on a fixed schedule. I don't keep one myself. I work in IT. I simply place limits on the amount of working from home people on the teams under me engage in because WFH is perceived as being an accurate indicator of an ineffective team.

I don't know how many times or how many ways I have to write the same response in this thread before I finally make myself understandable, but if my team is seen as ineffective, then they are ineffective. It doesn't matter what you actually accomplish in the workplace if perception is otherwise.

Why can't someone simply meet expectations without coming to the office?

Coming into the workplace is an expectation. I believe it is a universal one in an office like ours.

Making assumptions about whether or not I wish to move up the ladder is your conclusion. In truth, I think I've moved plenty up the ladder and have achieved an uncomfortable altitude. But I will not have my team dissolved or laid off because some people wanted to WFH every day and go fishing while on conference calls.

Likewise, I will not allow someone who does not wish to excel at their job on my team. If you work to pull down a paycheck and are not really interested in your job, you will hate working for me, because I have high expectations of my folks and I am intensely demanding. I create a sense of urgency and have a reputation for exceeding expectations.

As your boss, I cannot exceed expectations if you do not exceed them with me. If you want a cake job, find another boss.

My responsibility is to the team as a whole. Our conditions improve based on management's and my peers overall perception of my team's performance. I do not negotiate with my team on things that I know with negatively impact their reputations.

jael's picture

[quote="US41"]Coming into the workplace is an expectation. I believe it is a universal one in an office like ours.[/quote]

I'm curious. Is your entire IT organization located in one office (or several offices in the same city)? If not, what about your department and team? Are they all located together?

mikebz's picture

It seems pretty clear that US41 and I won't be seeing eye to eye on this. Personally, I'm ok with that.

At the end of the day, what matters is... Can he find a sufficient number of qualified people to fill his team, who can reliably work within the boundaries he specifies, and who will voluntarily stay employed in the job long enough to limit the perception that the group experiences high turnover?

It sounds like that is true. And that's great. No sarcasm.

I won't be one of those people, tho. And I know many others who would not - or would accept such a role with at least some hesitation.

I know myself well enough to know that my best work output rarely occurs in the office. And since I do not routinely report to the office, it is absolutely critical that I manage the perception that I am implicitly less effective. I know that I am very fortunate, in the sense that I have been able to do interesting work and even advance, without a daily commute. (And although I rarely do technical work now, my role was originally IT focused and still remote.)

But, in some office cultures, that's not going to work. Luckily, there are also plenty of people who do their best work at the office, with a sense of urgency (whether artificial or genuine). As long as there are, we can all have what we want.

cwatine's picture

Wow ... This is expanding (I don't know why, I did not received the notices from the forum).

As HMac noticed, it is not the usual discussion we have here, but I still feel it is relevant to the management domain.

The fact that we have such a passionate debate seems to indicate the subject is important.

I recently re-read the last book from Marshall Goldsmith and I was surprised to find some remarks about the "new generation of workers" and the risk of companies (senior management) not wanting to listen to their new demands.

In France, the employement market is now coming to a situation where offers/demands ratio is in favor of the workers, not the companies.

So I feel that not taking into account those new demands would be suicide for my company.

A book of this kind HAS to take extreme position or it would not be influencial. Still, I am sure there can be a balance.

_________________

I do have a hard time getting your point of view US41, and at the same time I respect it and I am trying get the best of it.

When you take extreme example (like going to the office naked or pure WFH), it clearly gives us the limits/risks of the system, it allows us to get a clearer picture of theory against reality.

When you say that your people have fixed schedule, but limit working time out of the office, it also shows the flexibility and limits you have put in place.

Thank you for that.

It would be interesting to know if you have some directs on different locations and how you deal with it, how you make sure they will not be disadvantaged of not being physically next to you?

stephenbooth_uk's picture

I find myself agreeing with US41 on this point.

I recently answered a [url=http://www.linkedin.com/answers?viewQuestion=&questionID=262518&askerID=... [/url] on the LinkedIn Q&A forums about whether people take work on holiday with them, I think that part of my answer (actually part of a clarification to my original answer) might be relevant here:
[quote]A big thing right now in the UK is Work-Life balance. I've got no problem with that, if you want to prioritise your non-work life over work, fine. But be aware that there is a penalty. When pay rises come around or there's promotion prospects in the offing, all other things being equal, they're going to go to the people who will do a full working week, who will work late or weekends when needed, who will make reasonable provisions to pick up their email and respond when on leave &c. I'm not saying that you need to be chained to your desk 24x7 or if you leave early one day to see your kid in their school play then you don't deserve a pay rise or promotion. What I'm saying is that if you're coming in late or leaving early every day, won't work late or weekends and won't be contactable whilst on leave (or after you've gone home for the day or at weekends) then you're less likely to get them. You have to make a choice about what is your priority, work or home. If you make work your priority then you will usually be rewarded, typically with more money and prestige. If you make home your priority then the rewards are different. [/quote]

This was driven somewhat by some discussions I've been a part of lately around Work-Life balance. We, unfortunately, seem to have a significant number of people who want to gain the benefits of the 'Life' side (more time with their family, work from home, work at times that suit them &c) but not give up any of the benefits of the 'Work' side of the equation (promotion, pay, prestige &c). They claim it's unfair (yes, I know Mark doesn't like the word 'fair' in a business context) that the promotions go to those who concentrate on the 'Work' side, personally I think that it would be unfair (ibid) if promotions &c didn't go to those who concentrate on the 'Work' side.

Stephen

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