Saturday, May 7, 2011

Work Sucks!

I’ve been reading Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It: The Results-Only Revolution by Cali Ressler & Jody Thompson. You can see it on here.

Ressler and Thompson’s book is "based on a simple idea: Our beliefs about work – forty hours, Monday through Friday, eight to five – are outdated, outmoded, out to lunch. Every day people go to work and waste their time, their company's time, and their lives in a system based on assumptions...that don't apply in today's global, 24/7 economy."

Your company provides a paycheck and other benefits. They provide a job, and in some cases, a career. For that you absolutely owe them hard work, focus and dedication. You owe them real, measurable results. But if you're delivering those results and the company is benefiting, then there is no reason why they have the right to make you sit in a cubicle from eight to five. You owe them your work, not your time. You do not owe them your life.

Ressler and Thompson’s book is about bringing a commonsense, effective, and mutually beneficial approach to living and working. Their solution is the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE), a movement to reshape the way things get done. ROWE is not a new way of working, but a new way of living, based on the radical idea that while you owe the company your best work, you do not owe them your time or your life. While it's a sweeping change, it requires only a basic adjustment in thinking: work is not a place you go – it's something you do.

In a ROWE, each person does whatever they want, whenever they want, as long as the work gets done.

In a ROWE, people get paid for a chunk of work, not a chunk of time. ROWE is not about having more time off; fewer hours may be worked, or even longer hours, but they're done on the worker's terms. ROWE is an intense focus on business results.

Ressler and Thompson point out that we labor under the myth that Time + Physical Presence = Results.

This myth applies only to work. Every other life activity – errands, chores (laundry, housekeeping, cooking, mowing the lawn) – is measured in results, not in time expended.

In an information & service economy it doesn't make sense to use time as a measurement for a job well done. Knowledge work requires fluidity, concentration and creativity.

Living our lives under a new set of demands in the knowledge economy, but under the old set of assumptions of the industrial economy, results in frustrated, burned out employees where few people are giving their best. "The fact that we get time wrong in corporate America may seem small, but [it] adds up to big problems both for employee and business.

Flextime isn't the answer either. It's limited (only certain days for certain people), conditional (we'll see how it goes and evaluate) and it's not based on trust (you're not working if you're working from home). Moreover, it's still attached to the traditional and obsolete notion of time as a variable of results.

Giving people complete control over accomplishing their work means completely giving up the old model of work. It means coming up with new methods of measuring performance and judging work. In a ROWE people are paid for outcomes, rather than time; they are paid for "a chunk of work" not a "chunk of time." As long as the work gets done is an absolute. The employer's job is to create “crystal clear” goals and expectations for what needs to get done on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis. It's up to the employee to meet those goals, with the coaching and guidance of management. If problems or challenges arise along the way, it's the work – not the hours worked – that comes under scrutiny.

ROWE requires adaptive change of people's underlying attitudes and beliefs change along with their behaviors. Adaptive change is defining the future state in real time. People have a hard time with this. Real change involves loss: the loss of habits, attitudes and beliefs. But if adaptive change is to occur, they must endure the examination of their beliefs and be open to reforming them.

ROWE is TiVo for work. TiVo gives TV viewers control. They watch what they want to watch, when they want to watch it. They're not held to schedules or to extraneous content. They have the freedom to watch TV on their own terms. There is no right way or wrong way to watch TV. They learn how to optimize their TV viewing experience. Similarly, ROWE optimizes work.

The right question to ask in a ROWE is "Am I dong what I need to do to meet my goals?"

What do you think? Does work suck? Can a ROWE work with your work? Are you in a ROWE? Does it work for you?

Let me know what you think. Post your thoughts in the comments section.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Random Factoids

Presented below, for your edification and enjoyment (maybe), are factoids collected from recent readings. In no particular order…

From, “More Americans leaving the workforce” (04-13-2011):

  • In 2010, only 45.4% of Americans had jobs; the lowest since 1983, down from a peak of 49.3 % in 2000.
  • In 2010, only 66.8 % of men had jobs, lowest on record. Until 1960s, more than 80% of men worked.

From “Out of Work, Out of Options and Over the Hill” (10-24-2010)

  • Of the 14.9 million unemployed, more than 2.2 million are 55 or older, according to the U.S. Labor Department. And almost half of those have been unemployed six months or longer. The unemployment rate in that age group is a record high 7.3%.

From, Sunday Morning, “Baby Boomers: America’s New Unemployables” (04-03-2011):

  • While people over 50 are less likely to be laid off, those that are have only a 24% chance of finding a new job within a year. For those past 62 years, the chance drops even more.
  • “…employers are cautious about taking on not only the salaries [of Boomers] but the benefits they expect…Experience is less valuable to employers these days than being cheap.”

From The Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, (03-25-2011)

  • Employees approaching-retirement (55-65 years) and retirement-eligible (66 +years) are more engaged than are younger workers. There are no significant differences between older or younger workers regarding the job conditions that predict employee engagement.
  • The current trend of older workers continuing to work past the traditional age of retirement is creating new challenges as well as opportunities. While some employers may see the advantage of retaining older workers to avoid losing critical knowledge, other employers may still be hindered by the misperception that it may be necessary to make extensive (and costly) adjustments for older workers.
  • There is this idea among employers that older workers require a lot of accommodations…Older workers want the same things other workers want: opportunities for learning, job clarity, workplace flexibility, and supervisors who show concern for their well-being and recognition for a job well done. When these job conditions are met, workers of all ages are more engaged.
  • The ideas that older workers are inflexible, unable to adapt, and costly to employers, is outdated in the current context of longevity and health. People in their 50s and 60s may well be at their peak—on average they are energized, reliable, and engaged. The real cost that employers should weigh is the cost of losing experience. Older workers have typically accumulated valuable knowledge and resilience and can be vital contributors in the work place.

To me, these factoids, culled from different sources, re-enforces The Great Disconnect in the last post. If companies are serious about achieving innovation to re-gain competitiveness, they need to rethink their approach to acquiring talent; especially talent over the age of 50.

The flip side is that workers over the age of 50 need to be able to rethink their value to potential employers and be able to fit their value to employers’ needs.

Your take?