3 Misconceptions About Teamwork, the Individual, and How Work Gets Done
Recently, we’ve been engaged with some bloggers and thought leaders in the Lean community, discussing some of the ways in which ROWE and Lean intersect. Some of the questions and concerns that comes out of these conversations are ones we hear often, and they come mostly from misunderstanding about foundational principals of a Results-Only Work Environment. These concerns also arise from a closely-held belief that work must happen at a certain time and place that is mandated, regulated, and accounted for by management.
Here are 3 common questions about Teamwork, the Individual, and Results in the context of a ROWE. These particular questions came up recently on @learnsigma’s blog and we wanted to take a moment to respond.
1. Which comes first – the individual or the team? How do you separate the individual from the team? If you have achieved your “result” for the day and go home, how does this impact on your team which may be reliant on you or the skills you have?
The challenge is in getting away from the notion that work starts at 8 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m. Just because someone has completed some of the work at a certain time of the day, it doesn’t mean they won’t be picking up on doing more work later. Leaving work at 2 p.m. does not mean work has ceased. We live in a world where most people who work have an email address and a voicemail box. If someone on the team needs your expertise, they can contact you via these methods. It’s up to the team member to respond in a timely fashion. Not every job requires instantaneous response. It’s up to each person to know the work, be clear about the results of the work, and how it will be measured.
Managers often grapple with what should be team goals versus individual goals. The people on the team can figure this out. Get clear with the entire team about the ultimate outcome of the work and then the specific ‘activities’ that are required to do the work can be managed by individuals. The individual measures then come out of what activities each person commits to in order for the team to achieve the ultimate outcome.
2. Rush To Finish: Will most people become motivated by getting “the result” as fast as
possible (a, “what’s in it for me” attitude) so they can leave as soon as they can? Not only would this impact on teamwork but (especially for blue-collar workers) the desire to rapidly generate your output for the day would become the goal.
Part of getting work done is doing it in a way that meets quality measures. ROWE is not about ‘leaving as soon as I can.’ In fact, it’s not about the clock at all. It’s about getting work done efficiently, effectively, and with quality measures intact.
3. Measuring Results: Who decides, “What does good look like?” in terms of the desired result?
ROWE is all about the team, along with the manager, agreeing to results and measures. The manager is a coach, mentor, and guide. The team drives the work to completion and is highly involved in determining what good looks like. Individuals closest to the work, who actually perform the daily activities and get the work done, know best how to accomplish their tasks in a way that makes sense. That is why we say “In a ROWE, you manage the work, not the people.” If the manager is focused on coaching the team and making sure deadlines are met, the individuals will determine among themselves how, where, and when the work will get done.
Image credit: jurvetson
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