Reflect for a moment: how do you measure the standard of contribution the people on your team make?
Do you place importance on the number of hours people spend at work? How well do you measure the contribution they make while there?
If time spent, or ‘face-time’, matters to you, ask yourself why. Why does the amount of time spent influence your perceptions of performance?
All too often I meet leaders who believe that hard work means long hours, and long hours means greater commitment and success. The reality is that it’s the outcomes people are able to achieve that are the true reflections of the value of their work. Placing value on someone’s willingness go the extra mile from time to time is important. Expecting, however, that people spend long hours at work to demonstrate commitment isn’t.
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Reflect for another moment: how do you behave when you are tired, distracted or just killing time? Can you honestly say you give your all, and bring your best effort to your job for every hour that you are physically present at work? What if you feel you have to be at work early and late or your boss will think less of you? How well are you likely to work and how much value do you think you would be driven to add?
A ‘face time’ culture can also have very real financial consequences for your business. For example, it’s common to find people regularly working overtime to boost their income. Others are in fact ineffective in their roles and fly under the radar of accountability by doing extra time. A lack of capability, focus, ability to delegate or share responsibility are common reasons for people working long hours and business owners pay for it.
Of course it’s valuable to any business when people are willing to work longer hours to get the job done. It’s especially important to build a culture that inspires people to role up their sleeves and do their part to help the team succeed. However, it’s also unquestionably in everyone’s best interest that balance be maintained. A ‘face-time’ culture inspires leaders to value time invested and staff typically respond by over committing or managing their bosses perceptions by simply being present at work.
Working long hours and regularly making personal sacrifices for our job is detrimental to our health, wellbeing, relationships, productivity and performance. Allowing people to reach a point of burnout is not only irresponsible it’s also unwise. When people are exhausted and stressed the consequences for them, their families and the business are serious. Mental and physical illnesses are very real costs of unreasonable workload and demand.
Five ways to ‘manage to outcomes’
If the people on your team are spending a lot of ‘face time’ at work, understand why. If they’re driven by dedication through a challenging time, then value and reward their behaviour.
If, however, you find that people are measuring their own success on the hours they spend in the office, set clearer expectations of the outcomes they need to achieve. Managing to outcomes and creating a performance focused culture takes five essential steps:
- Inspire. Create a clear and compelling vision for the future. Help people to understand how they are able and expected to influence success. Build confidence and energise your team’s spirit with strength of leadership.
- Direct. Set goals and assign accountability to individuals and teams. Provide clear guidelines within which they are expected to operate and then let them get on with the job.
- Empower. Allow people to take ownership of the roles you assign them. Empowerment is an essential prerequisite to holding people accountable for the standard of their performance. Give people room to make day-to-day decisions about how they go about achieving their role. Focus on the hours people need to be in the office to meet the needs of your customers and deliver on their roles objectives.
- Coach. Invest time influencing the approach and abilities of your team through regular coaching conversations. Provide feedback about what has worked well and how they could have approached various scenarios or tasks differently. Focus on the spirit and capabilities people need to take full ownership for their role and achieve the outcomes required.
- Accountability. Establish mechanisms for measuring the standard of performance achieved a long the way. Set milestone goals that measure and reward progress. While long-term objectives are important to establish, breaking them down is an important way of maintaining focus, motivation and momentum achieved.
Karen Gately is a leadership and people-management specialist and a founder of Ryan Gately. She is the author of The People Manager’s Toolkit: A practical guide to getting the best from people and The Corporate Dojo: Driving extraordinary results through spirited people.
This article was first published on Women’s Agenda.