Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It: No Schedules, No Meetings, No Joke-the Simple Change That Can Make Your Job Terrific, by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson
Do you hate cramming all of your errands into the weekend?
Do you resent having to beg permission to watch your kid’s weekday soccer game?
Are you tired of seeing people who aren’t very good at their jobs get promoted because they arrive early and stay late?
There’s got to be a better way—and there is, according to Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson. They should know – they developed the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) and rolled it out at Best Buy headquarters. These days, they consult to other companies on how to create similar systems.
Some of the key elements of a ROWE are:
- You can work when you want, where you want, as long as the work gets done.
- All meetings are optional.
- To make this approach successful, managers have to be specific with their employees regarding their deliverables, and employees have to learn to manage their own time. Letting everything happen at the last minute (constant fire-fighting), because you know that all employees should be at their desks anyway, no longer works.
Employees are only assessed on the actual work they complete. Not, the number of hours that they spend in the office or how many meetings they attend.
Many managers, upon hearing this, imagine total chaos. Everyone on permanent holiday, the company failing as nothing gets done. According to the authors however, work doesn’t really change that much. Everything gets done. People who have to work face to face still do. People turn up to meetings that are well run and relevant. The big difference that that employees are vastly happier because they can balance work with the rest of their lives.
This book is a great discussion of the first part of the title: why work sucks. Any reader who is trapped in an office that lives (unnecessarily) by the clock, will love discovering something that articulates so clearly how they feel. It really gets you thinking about the nature of work i.e. something you do vs somewhere you go.
Sadly the book fails miserably in resolving the second part of the title: and how to fix it. There is almost zero detail on the mechanics of transforming your office to this system. There is little discussion about how the system would translate for workplaces that aren’t composed of ‘individual contributors’, such as retail, customer service, education, medical, construction etc.
A more cynical reader might assume that this book is just a sales pitch for their consulting services…….
The authors suggest that this should be an-all-or-nothing approach. I, on the other hand, suggest you use this book as a launching pad to question the nature of work and how you structure your office. Can you manage your employees just on the basis of their work? Is time-at-work important for you? Which of your employees’ actions actually contribute to the company’s success? Can you just manage based on these actions and ignore everything else?
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