We monitor a lot of things in the workplace: workplace occupancy, hours logged, results obtained, materials consumed etc etc etc.
But how do you measure the quality of what you are outputting at work? Does ticking 300 boxes equal the same quality as brainstorming one new product idea? How can you even compare?
Much of what still happens in modern workplaces is based on the model that was invented at the dawn of the industrial age: defined roles, defined outputs, performance measured in widgets of time/money/savings/prestige.
But we have moved on to the Information Age or the Ideas Economy. How do you measure information? By the page? By the letter? Or by its quality? And what measure do you use?
These are the challenges that we all face as the western world heads deeper and deeper into a way of working and way of valuing work that is very disconnected from physical products and easily measurable results.
It’s easy to say that your company measures by outcomes, not hours worked, but what does that mean? And how does it work? Remote working has all too often devolved into meaning that everyone is just always on, 24/7. Managers struggle with the idea that maybe people will do their tasks autonomously if they are not supervised.
I don’t think I have specific answers to this. But it has got something to do with that people are happier at work and stay more focused and more loyal when they feel trusted and valued, not when they feel micro-managed and under surveillance as if they are a risk that needs to be managed.
Of course, there are people that prefer a detailed list of instructions to follow that gets checked and controlled. The point is to stop insisting that this is a blueprint that should be enforced on all people in all areas of endeavour.
If there is one mistake modern business most consistently still makes it is in still viewing the workplace like Henry Ford’s assembly line: where a series of people perform tightly regulated task to assemble a single, pre-determined product within strictly controlled parameters. That’s only true for a fraction of what is now defined at work… why then do so many insist on applying to all spheres?
Companies like Google and Gortex have long shown the way that self-directed, self-organising teams outperform those thrown together by management. That people work better when given the freedom to express themselves and understand how their work links in the chain to the product from the supplier…
We like having autonomy to solve problems, to try out solutions and to push the boundaries of our job description. It gives a sense of purpose and meaning that is highly motivating and rewarding… for the individual and the company.
Set creativity free in your workplace… it’s good for the people who work there and for the bottom line. Have you given any thought as to how you could achieve that in your business?