My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I liked this book, but ended up wanting a bit more from it…
The book provides a very compelling argument as to why the current system of work/performance (largely based on time) is broken and the advantages of ROWE (Results-Only Work Environment). But for me, this was really preaching to the converted… I first read about ROWE on Tim Ferris’ blog (I think) and was attracted to the concept right away. I completely agree that work (and associated remuneration and performance measurement) should be based on value created rather than hours spent in an office.
But where I thought the book fell short (and where I personally wanted more) was in relation to helping managers and their staff manage solely on the basis of results. The book (pg 129-130) suggests that ‘ultimately a ROWE is not a test of the employees, it is a test of the manager’ and asks ‘Can they [managers] do their jobs communicating expectations and holding people accountable? Can they develop systems to get the information they need without doing it through drive-bys or fire drills?’. As a new-ish manager seeking to implement a more results-based performance culture in my team (a full ROWE is not something within my control) I would have appreciated some more guidance/ideas/tips on setting, communicating and measuring performance expectations, and providing feedback.
My notes from Why Work Sucks
[Disclaimer: The notes below are rough, and may be a mixture of direct quotes, paraphrasing, and my own thoughts/ideas/reminders. They’re written here primarily for me (so they may not make much sense out of context, especially for those who haven’t read the book)].
(16) Knowledge work requires fluidity (ideas can happen at any time, not just between 8 and 5) and concentration… and creativity.
(18) If you are standing by, filling the hours, watching the clock then what are you doing with your life.
(34) When people have high demands and high control, their life can be hectic but manageable. They figure out what needs to be done and when. When people have high demands and low control, their life is both hectic and miserable.
(72) The right questions to ask yourself in a ROWE – ‘am I doing what I need to to meet my goals?’
(79) A seminar can give you tips and tricks. What people need is power.
ROWE is a TiVo for your work.
(81) Culture audit
(92) Our attitudes about time are perhaps the hardest obstacle to overcome because they are so ingrained. Even if someone waved a magic wand and said “You are no longer judged based on time”, you would probably still judge yourself based on time.
(125) When you hold a meeting be very specific about what the meeting is for, what people are specifically expected to contribute, what they are going to take away from the meeting, and how it’ll help drive concrete, articulated results.
(129-130) Ultimately a ROWE is not a test of the employees, it’s a test of the manager. Can they do their jobs communicating expectations and holding people accountable? Can they develop systems to get the the info they need without doing it through drive-bys or fire drills?
Managers can’t be uncomfortable getting negative feedback or getting push-back from their employees.
(130) When you take care of your life do you develop overcomplicated processes for getting things done? Why do we spend so much of our business life talking about the business we need to take care of rather than simply taking care of it?
(162) How do you advance the cause of ROWE? Start working on your own behaviour (practice not sludging people), talk about ROWE.
(167) Time is no longer a factor in judging performance. People get paid for a chunk of work, not for a chunk of time.
(168) Work on the people who get it and don’t worry so much about the ones who don’t.
(172) How to focus on results within your team
- get clear about performance goals, communicate often, and hold people accountable. what do they need to succeed?
- trust you people (like you trust yourself). stop making rules for the few you’re afraid won’t live up to your expectations.