Thursday, August 5, 2010

Do you manage to results?

I always thought that I managed to results.

I set the expectations and I allowed people to achieve the results in the best manner that worked for them. I wasn't a clock watcher to see if my team was putting in enough hours. In fact, I was bothered when employees would stay too late or come in during the wee hours just to impress me.

Clocking in too many hours told me that employees were goofing off too much during working hours and were inefficient with their time. I didn't require "face time," I just wanted the results.

But just the other day, this came into question.

Since I now work from my home office, my housecleaners (a pair of sisters) came to my house and were working for just under two hours to clean my entire house. After writing a $120.00 check, I wondered, is this enough time to clean a 3000 square foot house? Suddenly, I found myself comparing them to my previous housekeeper who used to spend six hours doing the job. Their two people for two hours was equivalent to four hours vs. the other at six.

But I kept reminding myself that they got the job done. Was it to the level of cleanliness of my other housekeeper? Yes. Did they do all that was expected? Yes.

So, what was the problem?

Sometimes for a given job, we have expectations regarding the compensation level. That expectation is based on our own experience. As a boomer who used to make $2.35 minimum wage at McDonalds as my first un-skilled job, the fact that a housecleaner could earn $30/hour seems crazy. But times have changed.

The same logic can be applied in todays workforce. You can be managing someone 15years younger and they are making almost as much as you are and suddenly you find yourself expecting them to put in a lot nore hours, but they don't. After all, in your mind, they need to justify that big salary.

But, stop.

How many hours they spend on getting the job done isn't the issue, and yet it seems to be the big debate these days with leading people across generations. It seems like we all have a different definition of success and how to achieve it. As a boomer, putting in sweat equity and showing face time was how we defined it. That certainly is no longer the case today.

But, isn't getting the job done and achieving the result the concern, not how we go about doing it?

Now more than ever, we need to manage to results. There are so many ways to get to a given result and technology has enabled efficiency and effectiveness. It allows people to work smarter, not longer. Managing people virtually and remotely is not uncommon in todays changing workplace.

Set expectations and let people deliver. Managing to results helps you step out so they can step im and achieve the result.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Great post, Laura!

I think a lot of the prevailing attitudes towards work are stuck in the factory mentality of the Industrial Revolution: working more hours means producing more widgets, which means making more money for the boss.

And that's probably pretty close to accurate if you're making widgets, but for knowledge workers -- which most of us are nowadays -- it falls apart.

At the end of the day, the question to ask ourselves is not "How many hours was my carcass in this chair?" but "How did I add value today?"