Manage the Work, not the People

Result-Only Work Environment (ROWE) pioneers Jody Thompson and Cali Ressler argue that giving employees measurable goals —and complete control over their own calendars — is the key to driving company efficiency and promoting work/life balance.

They argue that the root of the problem is that all this time, we’ve been trying to figure out how to manage the people to get the work done, instead of managing the work to get the work done. And this basic belief is what dictates that people first need to be managed ,and then the work. This is why we lose the chance to create a workforce dedicated to and motivated by achieving results, together.

In a ROWE, you measure team members by their performance, results or output, not by their presence in the office or the hours that they work. You give them complete autonomy over their projects, and you allow them the freedom to choose when and how they will meet their goals. Working in one is not the same as having “flexible hours.” The time your team members spend on a task is irrelevant; only their results matter.

One of the main benefits of working in a ROWE is the freedom and flexibility that it provides. People are able to complete work in their own time, as long as they meet their deadlines. If a ROWE is appropriate, you have to be sure that people will complete tasks to the agreed deadline and quality, regardless of whether they work at the office or at home, during business hours or late at night.

People need to understand what you expect of them and what they’re responsible for, so they know what they need to achieve. You need to ensure that deadlines are realistic, but also you need to ensure people don’t exaggerate how long a project should take.

Summing-up: management is not about managing the people, but managing the work. It’s not about controlling the how; it’s about making sure the what is clear and measurable and that people are accomplishing it.

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