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Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE), What it is and How it can Help Your Business.

ROWE Results-Only Work Environment

roweCommon Objections

We’ve heard all the arguments against a Results-Only Work Environment, or ROWE, the most common being, “This isn’t anything new”; however, we question if any business has taken it as far as we have. There is always someone at some level who doesn’t get to work in a ROWE, or even if an organization is results-oriented, there aren’t many that are results-ONLY. We think the reason for this is because they would rather not deal with the idea of a ROWE at all.

It’s the same with people who say, “Yeah, but that would never work at my company.” A ROWE takes people out of their comfort zones, so many would rather shoot down the entire idea rather than put themselves through the possible pain of having to examine their beliefs.

If one is talking to someone (perhaps a manager) about a Results-Only Work Environment, and they start to object, here are some counterpoints to help overcome the objections that may arise. If there are any objections to a ROWE that we may have missed, please do not hesitate to send us an email and let us know the objection and how to overcome the same.

Employer Specific Objections

● “People will take advantage and slack off.”

Although a manager may not realize it, many employees are taking advantage and slacking off at this very moment. The reason one cannot tell is because the company is measuring them with a combination of results and time. In a ROWE, if the employer does not get results or outcomes required, then the employee is fired. Meanwhile, the productive employees work even harder to achieve the desired results and outcomes because they are being rewarded with control over their time.

● “How can you ever reach anybody if they’re not in the office?”

People are more accessible now more than ever with cell phones, laptops and tablet PC’s. In other words, the days of needing a phone plugged into a wall in order to do business are a thing of the past. In a ROWE, when it is necessary to reach an employee, one may reach him or her on a cell phone, through email and/or instant messaging. Another thought: when one is clear about timetables, outcomes and expectations, a lot of those spontaneous requests dry up. It is possible to start to anticipate those questions; one can plan better and therefore have fewer emergencies. Generally, one would not casually stop by someone’s office and interrupt his or her work to get the answer to one question. Instead, one would attempt to answer the question through other means, or simply send a short email to the employee.

● “This will work for some people, but not everyone. Some people simply need more supervision.”

Employees do not need supervision; instead, they need a clear idea of the expectations being placed upon them and the desired outcomes. If one were to call the local deli and ask them to deliver a delicious turkey sandwich in the next half hour, one doesn’t need to go personally to the deli to supervise the making of the sandwich, and then follow the delivery person back to the office. One trusts that the deli is going to deliver on expectations, and if they do not deliver a delicious turkey sandwich in a half hour, then one is faced with two choices: complain and hope that service improves or switch to a deli with better service.

● “How will we know if work is getting done if we can’t see people?”

How do managers know currently? In today’s economy, people work with information talking on the phone, typing on computers. When a supervisor or manager walks by a row of cubicles, he or she does not know for a fact that employees are actually working, or if they just look busy. In a ROWE, managers know the work is getting done because they have been crystal clear about goals and expectations. If employees do not deliver the work, the manager knows immediately, and can act accordingly.

● “Relationships are so important. What will happen to relationships?”

Relationships are important, and most assuredly will be fine. We assume that we’re improving relationships with employees and staff because we’re all in the same building together; however, being together doesn’t necessarily guarantee that people are connecting. In a ROWE, people work on their relationships with more purpose because one cannot assume other employees will be around, and they make career development, mentoring and coaching a part of the results to be delivered.

● “How can you schedule meetings if you don’t know when people are working?”

In a ROWE, managers can no longer casually schedule a meeting; however, managers do not schedule meetings based around time; they schedule meetings based on outcome. If the outcome requires that people attend, then they will attend. If they don’t need to be there in person, they can send a representative, or they can provide the information they’re supposed to deliver ahead of time.

● “How will we know if people are putting in 40 hours (or the specified number of hours I want)?”

An employer won’t know because it doesn’t matter. In a ROWE, employees’ performance is based on results. Managers tell them what they are expected to do, and they either deliver or they don’t. Time is not a factor, and, thus, employees begin performing rather than putting in time.

● “What about teams?”

Teams are generally considered overrated. In a ROWE, employees and management stop teaming simply because they feel obligated to team; they team up because the outcome requires it. In fact, teams get much stronger in a ROWE because there is natural cross training; when one cannot assume that others are going to be in the office, teammates make sure they can support each other in an emergency.

● “What if everyone decides not to work at the same time?”

That depends. Does the job require that people work at the same time? If the outcome doesn’t demand that everyone works at the same time, then the answer to that question is “That’s fine.” However, if the job requires certain employees be together or coordinate their effort, then the answer to that question is “that’s what they will do.” A ROWE gives employees power over how they work and when they work, but they still have to work, and they are still responsible for serving the customer, whether that customer is internal or external. That sense of responsibility-coupled with the power to meet those responsibilities however they see fit-actually breeds higher performance. Employees generally don’t think about blowing off work in a ROWE.

Employee Specific Objections

● “If there’s no line between work and life, how will I keep from overworking?”

There is no line between work and life because you have control over both work and life, so one doesn’t overwork because there is no incentive to overwork. As an employee, one is not getting rewarded for putting in more hours. He or she is no longer a hero for pulling an all-nighter, being the first one through the door in the morning or working on the weekend. Employees are only rewarded for delivering results, and once they have delivered those results, they stop working and do something else.

● “How can you advance your career if no one sees you working?”

This sounds like the kind of worry that keeps people from participating in current flexible work arrangements because of the fear that if we’re not putting in enough “face time” then we won’t get credit for the work. First, a ROWE doesn’t mean that no one ever sees anyone ever again, or that everyone works at home, so people will see the work being put in; moreover, and more importantly, an employee will be measured more for actual performance than perceived performance. If an employee is given a goal and the goal is met, then that is what will advance that employee’s career; one gets ahead through actual achievement.

● “A manager needs to be there for their people.”

We appreciate that a lot of managers genuinely care about their employees, and we also suspect that there are managers out there who have built their identity on showing that they care. “I need to be there for my people, ” they say, “my people count on me.” However, one must realize there is more to being there for someone than physical availability. A manager can still be there for employees by giving them clear goals and expectations, coaching their development and removing obstacles that fall in their path. Perhaps the best way to be there for them is to leave them alone and trust them to do their job.

● “What if I get stuck with more work than anybody else?”

Many feel isolated and unsupported at work as they look around and see that some that do not produce get paid more than those who do produce, and therefore spend a lot of time feeling like victims. On the practical side, a ROWE gives employees the right to question the work they are doing. If a manager sets unrealistic expectations, or piles on too much work, that isn’t good for anyone, and in a ROWE it’s the employee’s job to stand up for what best serves the business. On the emotional side, one may find oneself not caring about other people’s level of work. Employees that perform enjoy freedom, and what others do or don’t do becomes their business.

● “How is the company going to really know what the results are supposed to be?”

We think this is the best question you can ask about ROWE, but it’s an even better question to ask in a traditional work environment. When companies plan or schedule, they base their assumptions on hours, but generally there is no discussion about outcomes. Part of the migration process involves an individual, team or organization finally asking what should be the obvious question: “what are we really trying to accomplish here?” Some jobs (making widgets) are easier to figure out than others (servicing customers), but in the end every job can be measured. Basing performance on these new, clearer measures is what leads to the impressive bottom line gains a ROWE creates.

● “Who’s going to answer the phone?”

The logistical aspect of this question has a thousand workarounds-voice-mail, call forwarding, spreading the task across a team of people-but the question behind this question speaks to people’s fears about letting go of control. We find that a lot of business leaders say they want innovation, leadership, and proactive participation from their people, but then they short themselves with too much worry over availability. They would rather have control over middling performance than set people free and let them achieve more.

● “If everyone becomes more efficient, are there going to be layoffs?”

We think that some people can sense the enormity of a ROWE and it scares them. People at all levels fear that they will find out the truth about their organization: that a team is bloated; that there are managers who have no business managing people. We say this isn’t really our problem. If an organization is bloated and top-heavy, over-staffed, under-trained or misguided, then it’s true that a ROWE could reveal those truths. But we would argue that you might know this already, and there isn’t any incentive for change. Why not get people in a job where they belong?

● “Isn’t it unprofessional to answer a customer’s question while you’re shopping?”

First of all, they don’t have to know unless one decides to tell them, and there is no reason one has to report to a customer where he or she is located. We call this “Sludge Anticipation”; one is concerned that people are going to judge because of the perception that an employee who is out shopping can’t also be working. If one answers the customer’s question in a professional manner, then the question of the employee’s location becomes a moot point because they don’t care; they want your help, not an update on your personal life.

● “What if you really need to reach somebody?”

People are more accessible now more than ever with cell phones, laptops and tablet PC’s. In other words, the days of needing a phone plugged into a wall in order to do business are a thing of the past. In a ROWE, when it is necessary to reach someone, it is possible to reach him or her on a cell phone, through email and/or instant messaging. One’s coworkers and colleagues are not there to be a search engine/file cabinet/dictionary. If it is a true emergency, then there is probably more than one person to get help from; and if there is only one person who can answer any question in an organization, then that is an organization problem, not the fault of the person who isn’t available.

● “Isn’t it just common courtesy to let people know where you are?”

We think it is common courtesy to respect people’s time and their personal choices about how they use that time. If the job is getting done, then there is no need to check in with one’s location.

● “If people don’t show up we have to worry about them.”

There are coworkers, not children. We worry about co-workers today because everyone is expected to show up at around the same time. In a ROWE, patterns are changing every day, so it’s impossible to know when to start worrying. There really isn’t a “normal” anymore; there’s no more “she should be here by now” or “he’s usually here by now.” That goes away.

● “What if somebody goes on vacation for a whole month? They don’t even have to tell us, right?”

A funny thing happens when we talk about a ROWE; we’ll say to people “You can do whatever you want when you want, as long as the work gets done” and it seems as though their brains get fried by the first part of that sentence and they don’t hear the “as long as the work gets done” part. If one goes on vacation for a whole month and is not there to deliver the desired outcomes, then he or she will be fired; but if one wants to be out of the state or out of the country for a month, and he or she can still meet the deliverables, then he or she does not have to justify his or her physical absence.

Creating a ROWE for your company may also help in Retaining Your Employees and Increasing their Productivity

Building Effective Teams: How to Create a Successful Work Environment

The Twelve C’s to Building Effective Teams

building effective teamsWhen building effective teams to create a successful working environment, managers need to understand that being a part of a team is a different experience all by itself. Members of a team are part of a larger whole with an espoused mission or objective and contribute to the overall success of an organization. A team is responsible for producing results that achieve those successful objectives. Team members usually represent different departments in an organization or are comprised of one department. Members are tasked with specific functions that drive the bigger picture.

It is extremely important to examine the objectives of a team. Is it merely to be effective in the workplace or focused on accomplishing a specific goal? Team building seminars, retreats and other activities are useless when the objective is not clearly defined early on in the process. If managed properly, a team is a useful tool for involving employees in the success of a business. They help to increase profits by improving a customers’ experience through improved products, services, and connections.

When a business has been unsuccessful in team improvement efforts, it should evaluate its methods through a list of team building techniques known as the Twelve Cs. This self-diagnosing list focuses on twelve areas that will not only improve the communication and functionality of a group but provide a clear understanding of the group’s purpose for the future.

1. The first concept that a team must understand is Context. The team should be able to answer specific questions, such as what is its purpose? Where does this team fit in to the scheme of things? Are the values, mission and objectives in alignment with the organization as a whole? Why have particular people been chosen to be a part of the team?

2. The second concept is Clear Expectations. Has the management communicated to the group its expectations? Do team members know why the team was formed? Do members understand what will happen if the expected outcomes are not achieved? Does the team clearly understand the resources that the organization will provide?

3. Keep in mind when building effective teams, it needs to have Competence. Are the right people on the team? Are they the best representative from their department? Do the members have the necessary skills and knowledge needed to handle any issues that might arise? Are they capable of dealing with problems and if not, do they have access to someone who can provide them with resources? Do members of the team have confidence in each other?

4. The team members need to have buy-in. They need to be Committed to the team mission. Do they feel that they bring a valuable resource to the group? Do they expect this opportunity to provide them with professional development that will help them advance in their careers? What kinds of incentives encourage the team to do well?

5. The team needs to feel that is has Control. Does it have the freedom to feel ownership of its goals? On the other hand, does it understand the boundaries that it must stay within? What are the limitations that the team identified when it looked at its context in the organization as a whole? Is there a process that allows it to review its current practices and implement a checks and balances system? If members do not perform their functions in a timely manner or follow the assigned timetable, are they held accountable? If so, what does that process look like?

6. Although the group is part of a larger whole with intended outcomes, has it designed its own strategies for goal setting? What is the team’s Charter? What is the design of the team? Has it defined how it will measure the outcomes and does the main leadership support its goals?

7. One of the most important and yet misunderstood concepts in team building is Communication. Members need to be clear about the priority of tasks and have a method of providing feedback in an honest yet respectful manner.

8. Without Collaboration, a team will ultimately fail. There are several stages of group development that are important in creating teamwork results that are productive. Groups go through several stages of development. Tuckman’s model maintains that four stages known as forming, storming, norming and performing are essential and inevitable in order for a team to grown, tackle challenges, find solutions and deliver results. Do the team members understand their role in the team and the group process? Do they know the established norms and conflict resolution and decision-making strategies?

9. The Culture of a group also effects their communication and collaboration. Although a team is a smaller part of a larger group, this does not mean that the culture of the group will be the same. Members of the group need to recognize this possibility and adapt to possible changes. The team may be responsible for implementing cultural changes into the larger organization if it finds that those strategies work well within its group.

10. Teams need to recognize the possible Consequences. Is there an established system based on rewards and recognition? What is the expectation when negative results are achieved? What about positive results? Will the success of the group be shared individually with members or only with the organization as a whole? Will the group members be able to see how their accomplishments impact the organization?

11. How is the group Coordinated? Is there a central leadership team that assists the group? Does the group have an established leader that reports to central management? Who do they go to if they need assistance? Is a hierarchy in place or does it need to be developed?

12. Without Creative Innovation a team will not be able to act as a change agent. The group must value creative thinking, new ideas and unique solutions to problems. Members need to be rewarded when they think outside of the box even if the idea does not always come to fruition. Members should be stimulated with training and have access to resources that encourage new and creative ideas.

By evaluating a team using these twelve criteria, business leaders will ensure that their teams contribute effectively to the success of their organization. Team members will feel valued and their success will fuel the company in a positive manner. Empowering employees to feel ownership in the company and its successes only increases those successes in the future.

Building Effective Teams is only part of an efficient workplace!

7 Tips on Establishing Positive Daily Routines

Establishing Positive Daily Routines!

positive daily routinesIf you’re constantly overwhelmed and feeling disorganized, it is time to establish some good habits and get yourself a positive daily routine that works for you and takes advantages of your strengths and weaknesses. Here are some tips to help you get into positive daily routines.
Tip 1 Identify your Peak Hours: There are specific times of day where people can do their best work. Most people already have a general idea of when they are more productive and have more energy and ability to focus.

For example, you may already know if you’re a morning or a night person, but there may also be a few hours during the morning or afternoon that are also particularly good for you. That is why you should take a couple of days to pay close attention to your energy and focus levels as the day goes on.

Tip 2 Identify your Slow Hours: Everyone also has times of day where they struggle to stay on task. Some people may even get sleepy, especially after lunch or before dinner. In some cultures, long breaks are in everyone’s schedule during these times!

Tip 3 Plan Challenging Tasks During Your Peak Hours: Now that you know when your peak hours of productivity are, rearrange your schedule as best as you can to maximize your hours. Plan to work on challenging tasks during those times and you will get a lot accomplished. This is probably the most important key for success in forming your good habits.

Tip 4 Plan Easy Tasks during slow hours: Plan easier tasks or take your breaks during your slower times. There is no sense in trying to work on your most difficult assignments during a time you know you will struggle to focus. You may not be able to take a two-hour siesta, but if you can, that might really behoove you. If not, you can probably at least count on doing your easier work during your down time.

Tip 5 Be Flexible: Flexibility is one of many good habits you can work on when establishing your daily routines. Having a framework for the day will help keep you on task, but when things come up and you have to change your schedule, don’t stress. If you have been forming good habits with regard to scheduling your day, interruptions should not completely set back your work schedule.

Tip 6 Stay on Task: I know — I just told you to be flexible. However, that should be in regards to outside interruptions or emergencies. Once you have the advantage of a schedule that is tailored to your strengths and weaknesses, stick to it as much as possible to maximize your productivity. Then, when circumstances beyond your control interfere with your schedule, you will be able to handle the interruptions.

Tip 7 Streamline Your Contacts: One final tip for your list of new good habits is to remove duplicate contacts from your email address books or any other application that has contact lists. You can use software applications to do all the work for you.

Relevant Articles:

Optimize your Productivity with Daily/Weekly Routines
The Daily Routines of 17 CEO’s
Finding Your Peak Hours
Maximizing your Productivity Throughout the Day

Using either The Pomodoro Method or Results Curve will also help with establishing your positive daily routines.

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iPhone’s Potential: Five Ways to get the Most out of Your Phone

Five ways to Unleash the iPhone’s Potential

iphone's potentialEver since the iPhone first came out, I have carried one with me wherever I go. More than just stylish or a status symbol, they are genuinely useful for getting things done. They can be used to play games or check reviews for a restaurant. I even keep all my friends and business numbers exclusively on my iPhone, allowing me to remove duplicate contacts on my computer. It’s great having one handy gadget to keep everything organized. But the iPhone can be a drain on time and productivity if you allow it. I’ve figured out 5 main ways that I get the most from the iPhone’s potential. I think they will prove useful to everyone else as well.

There’s An App For That: The App Store is one of the things that really sets the iPhone apart. There are hundreds of thousands of apps for everything I can possibly need. From connecting to client information on my work computer to finding the nearest Chinese restaurant, I can do it all if I have the right app for the job.

Keep Up To Date: Being able to connect through either the 3G network or wi-fi connection is a great feature of the iPhone. As long as I have reception, I can connect to the internet. This can be a lifesaver if I’m in a meeting or just need to know the current sports score. These days, I would feel lost if I couldn’t stay connected.

Connect Remotely: Speaking of staying connected, I can use my iPhone to connect remotely to the database of client information on my work computer. I use this all the time when I am meeting with a client or working from home. Telecommuting is a breeze when I can just pull the information into my iPhone.

Store Your Contacts In One Place: I keep nearly everything I need to know on my iPhone, from phone numbers to to-do lists. It’s great to have everything in the palm of my hand for easy access. However, the frequent uploading and downloading of information can occasionally cause multiple versions of information to stockpile on my computer. I often remove duplicate contacts from my computer to keep it streamlined and neat.

Tethering: The iPhone has a great feature which allows you to connect it wirelessly to you computer and use the iPhone just like a wireless modem to connect to the internet via the 3G phone network. Most people don’t know this feature is built in and it can be very handy when you are in an area with no wi-fi available.

Staying connected is one of the best things about the iPhone, you can always stay in contact with your friends and family. However, if I have to use my home phone, I have to search through several different numbers to find the one I want. This is why I used software to remove duplicate contacts from my Address Book and merge them all into one master list for easy reference. I recommend everyone remove duplicate contacts because it is so easy to do and saves so much time trying to find the right number.

Now that you are enjoying the iPhone’s potential for productivity, how about 7 Tips for Establishing  Positive Daily Routines!

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