by Bill Sanders, Principal and Sr. Consultant with Roebling Strauss
Time to Read: 4 minutes
One of the greatest gifts I had early on in my career was at Mattel Interactive. I was hired to run a cross-functional team, half of which was remote in Cedar Rapids, IA. Because I had never before managed a remote team, I needed to improve my skillset immediately. Through mentors, reading, experimentation, and no small number of mistakes, I quickly learned how to manage an effective team when I didn't know how, or even when, they were doing the work.
I took those lessons and leveraged them with the local half of the team as well. We weren't doing anything considered radical at the time, but we were pushing responsibility and authority as close to the front line as possible. I've always appreciated and rewarded hard work, but I began to develop a bias for effectiveness and results that superseded any previous bias for effort.
I regularly see a bias toward rewarding effort in many of our clients' organizations. The culture rewards those that come in early, work late, and answer emails at 10 PM on the weekend-regardless of what they are actually accomplishing. While effort is critical, it is not sufficient. To add real value to an organization, everyone has to make an effective impact that generates results well over and above their compensation package. Typically, the target return is at least three times total compensation at a minimum.
- "How will I know they are putting in the time?"
- "What is this going to do to productivity?"
- "How am I going to manage the people I can't see?"
- "How are we going to insure that remote team members stay connected and are part of our culture?"
Making the Shift
When an Effort Bias is identified, the first issue is what to replace it with. My recommendation is an Effectiveness Bias - for the following reasons:
- It is easier and less time consuming to judge the quality of a deliverable than to monitor a team member's effort. When quality criteria are defined in advance, organizations require less oversight and management because the only one responsible for the end result is the person actually doing the work. It is a shift from telling someone "how to do it" to communicating what you expect the outcome to be.
It's not easy bucking the established consensus. It's not easy to recognize and replace our unconscious bias-especially in an organizational environment. But it is simple and it is the only way we can push more responsibility to be self-managed and responsive to the front line in our organizations.
Bill Sanders is Principal and Sr. Consultant with Roebling Strauss, a boutique consultancy that specializes in delivering dramatic improvements in organizational effectiveness and Co-Lead Link of the Finance Circle for Great Work Cultures, a community dedicated to creating a new norm for work cultures that optimize worker effectiveness and human happiness. Connect with Bill on twitter at @technacea.