The move towards a results-only work environment (ROWE) has been accelerated by the recent pandemic. But we must understand the key components which allow ROWE to flourish, otherwise managers will struggle to make it a success for our businesses, for our team and for our clients.
20th century thinking taught us all about the bottom line, but here in the 21st century is it really just results that we’re worried about?
We look at results and make assessments, judgements. In sport, the result is everything – the one true arbiter of “how we did”.
But should we be focusing just on the result? The problem with thinking like this is that it ignores the sequence of events and actions which all contribute towards the outcome, or result.
The issue becomes clearer when we look at managing a team.
The role of the manager is complex and subject to many definitions. Ultimately though, we can sum up the role as one of getting the best out of those who report to you.
Compare and contrast two different ends of the spectrum...
- When an objective is clear, but the behaviours/culture are not, people will do whatever they perceive to be right in order to achieve the objective.
- When the behaviours and culture are clear, but the objective is not, people will perform the right way but not necessarily in pursuit of the right objective.
So, the trick is not only being clear about the objective but also how we go about achieving that objective.
In other words, the objective is WHAT, the way we achieve it is HOW.
And each is equally important!
Another way to look at this is KPIs, an acronym commonly adopted in organisations and which is usually defined as Key Performance Indicators. Such a definition is encouraging us to look at the result, the score.
Whereas if we install and measure Key Predictive Indicators, we are instead focused on measuring the behaviours which should yield the correct result.
And by looking at input and outputs, we get a much more rounded picture of how someone is performing.
So perhaps the role of the manager is twofold:
- Be crystal clear on the objective
- Then spend most of their time on inputs – encouraging, motivating and demonstrating the right behaviours at every step. Effectively ensuring that the team are doing things the right way.
And if those behaviours are properly aligned with the objective, the result should simply be a function of everyone doing things right.
The pandemic has thrust upon us a lack of control over our teams; an inability to 'see' what they’re doing. For those businesses serious about offering their teams an environment where they have complete flexibility about hours and are measured on output, then we need three things:-
- Strong culture
- Clear objectives
- Key predictive indicators which show the right way to achieve objectives
The businesses which achieve this make themselves far more flexible; attractive to workers and also protect against future lockdowns
Doing things right AND doing the right things.