Productivity and GTD

ROWE: Results Only Work Environment

AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
“An empowered organization is one in which individuals have the knowledge, skill, desire, and opportunity to personally succeed in a way that leads to collective organizational success.” ~ Stephen Covey
Rowe

A Results Only Work Environment is a human resource management strategy in which employees are remunerated depending on their results instead of the hours they have worked.

Implementing ROWE in a company favor both the company and the employees, although it implies a very important cultural change. Businesses (or some of their departments) benefit from a fairer system when the effectiveness of an employee cannot be measured by the number of hours they spend in the office. Employees, for their part, benefit from total autonomy in the performance of their work.

The first company to implement such a strategy was Best Buy, an American company that distributes electronic devices. They say that the workers working under this framework report a better relationship with their families and friends, greater loyalty to the company, and greater focus and energy at work, than the ones who simply must comply with the number of hours that the law forces them to work. The productivity of these employees has increased by 35% and turnover has declined significantly, which means they are happier at work.

Some studies suggest that the relationship between salary and job satisfaction is very weak. Once our basic needs are met, an increase in salary only produces very short-term motivation. This is why a ROWE company must appeal to the employee’s intrinsic motivation. They must therefore create the right environment for the worker to enjoy the mere fact of working.

For this to happen, the worker must feel completely autonomous. Autonomy is one of the basic pillars of our motivation. Normally, when an employee is allowed to define how they are going to do their own work, control their schedule, and work from any place, it turns out that they enjoy a lot more their job and become more productive. This benefits the company and benefits the employee, who in addition to enjoying working can reconcile his work with his personal life.

However, implementing a system in which each worker is completely responsible for their job is a major challenge. The company has to offer the worker an adequate environment and a purpose that endows meaning and commitment to his work, as well as an honest and performance-based remuneration. A knowledge worker must be in continuous development and reinforce certain skills necessary to be 100% autonomous. He must know how to get organized, prioritize, obtain the necessary information to make good decisions, identify causes that originate problems, think strategically, take risks, be disciplined, staying calm in stressful situations, etc.

What do you think? Is that possible?

Related article: Self-Determination Theory

3 comments

8bb2c9a97155fbcffcc91ca918d103c7
Commented over 2 years ago Cyrus

It is very possible.

I would suggest that measurement of success be done by creating and tracking goals. I personally use OKR (Objective, Key Results) as a way to create my goals and share my progress with my leadership team. It doesn't matter how long I work or how hard as long as I can show my progress. If I run into a roadblock that will cause a Key Result to fail, I know well ahead of time.

Ultimately, however, it is up to the individual. The company will need to hire right. One method I've seen is having possible hires take a personality test.

8bb2c9a97155fbcffcc91ca918d103c7 Cyrus

It is very possible.

I would suggest that measurement of success be done by creating and tracking goals. I personally use OKR (Objective, Key Results) as a way to create my goals and share my progress with my leadership team. It doesn't matter how long I work or how hard as long as I can show my progress. If I run into a roadblock that will cause a Key Result to fail, I know well ahead of time.

Ultimately, however, it is up to the individual. The company will need to hire right. One method I've seen is having possible hires take a personality test.

00d0a361be3efa69c937adcb1446d9cd
Commented over 2 years ago Günther

I'm happy to read that there are companies (at least one I now know of) which actually follow such an approach. When I was manager in a line function I tried to apply a similar approach: If the workload is right and an employee manages to deliver in 30 hours instead of 40, why should they be punished by getting an extra workload on top, while colleagues need the 40 hours? It was not possible to bring this concept into existence, due to resistance from both directions: My boss and some of my team members.

Intrinsic motivation is crucial. It brings you in a state which can be called "on fire" - the best results I observed from others and myself were always achieved when the performer was "on fire".

If you don't already know it, I highly recommend to watch Dan Pink's speech "Drive: The Surprising Truth On What Motivates Us" - can be found easily with the keyword "rsa dan pink motivation"; the RSA also created one of their great "RSA Animates" based on Dan's speech.

00d0a361be3efa69c937adcb1446d9cd Günther

I'm happy to read that there are companies (at least one I now know of) which actually follow such an approach. When I was manager in a line function I tried to apply a similar approach: If the workload is right and an employee manages to deliver in 30 hours instead of 40, why should they be punished by getting an extra workload on top, while colleagues need the 40 hours? It was not possible to bring this concept into existence, due to resistance from both directions: My boss and some of my team members.

Intrinsic motivation is crucial. It brings you in a state which can be called "on fire" - the best results I observed from others and myself were always achieved when the performer was "on fire".

If you don't already know it, I highly recommend to watch Dan Pink's speech "Drive: The Surprising Truth On What Motivates Us" - can be found easily with the keyword "rsa dan pink motivation"; the RSA also created one of their great "RSA Animates" based on Dan's speech.

Fcb879f1bc70aa0f661b842011f280fb
Commented over 2 years ago Francisco Sáez

I think it's quite complicated. As Günther says, most companies are not culturally ready to let their employees be 100% accountable of their work. And, as Cyrus points, not every employee wants or is ready to work that way.

But I believe it's something to consider if you're starting a new business, because you can implement this approach from the very beginning. If the people who are creating companies now would do that, in ten years that would probably be commonplace.

Thanks for your comments!

PS: Günther, I read Dan Pink's "Drive" a few years ago. In fact, it was the first time I read about ROWE environments. Also, the RSA animate is great ;)

Fcb879f1bc70aa0f661b842011f280fb Francisco Sáez

I think it's quite complicated. As Günther says, most companies are not culturally ready to let their employees be 100% accountable of their work. And, as Cyrus points, not every employee wants or is ready to work that way.

But I believe it's something to consider if you're starting a new business, because you can implement this approach from the very beginning. If the people who are creating companies now would do that, in ten years that would probably be commonplace.

Thanks for your comments!

PS: Günther, I read Dan Pink's "Drive" a few years ago. In fact, it was the first time I read about ROWE environments. Also, the RSA animate is great ;)

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