Over the weekend, I found a blog piece on The App Gap site, written by Celine Roque back in 2008, which talks about results-oriented versus time-oriented workplaces. Time-oriented workplaces have their roots in the Industrial Era, when it was important to put in your 8 hour day at a specific factory location so you could punch out a pre-defined number of widgets. You were a cog in a bigger wheel and everyone had to be present and working on the line in order for the wheel to turn. But managing the work by “time spent” is not as effective for managing knowledge work, which is really better suited to a “results-oriented” approach. Some of her observations on the differences between time-oriented and results-oriented workplaces are:
- Time-Oriented You are seen as diligent if you are the first one in the office and the last one out of the office.
- Results-Oriented: It’s not about when you arrive and when you leave, it’s about what you accomplish during your stay – no matter how long or short it is.
- Time-Oriented: Let’s have long, regular meetings so we know we’re discussing things in depth.
- Results-Oriented: Let’s have meetings only when necessary, and make them as short as possible.
Another dimension to this discussion is whether the work is “place-oriented”, e.g. how important is the location of the work to accomplishing the job? In a “results-oriented” workplace, location can often be irrelevant; it’s about how you work and the results you achieve that are important. Here are some of those differences:
- Place-Oriented: It’s important for the supervisor to “see” the work as its being done in order to effectively manage it.
- Results-Oriented: Managing by results means the supervisor and the employee don’t have to be in the same room, or even in the same city.
- Place-Oriented: The tools and equipment used in the job are only available at the specific company location; therefore, your presence at that location is required.
- Results-Oriented: Since knowledge work is all about the handling and creating of information, the tools and resources required for the job are available through Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), meaning, you can do your job from nearly anywhere.
Thanks to AT&T’s enabling technologies and our results-oriented management practices, I could argue that most of AT&T’s knowledge work is location independent – meaning, work that can be effectively accomplished from a variety of different locations.
So, how would you describe your job? Place-Centric or Location Independent?
My own commentary back was:
Thanks for this thought provoking piece on how we best consider the work environment. I have met and worked for sales managers who were both. Those that were place oriented often insisted that their sales staff be in their cubes at a specified time, then schedule meetings to "kick-off" the day. At times, they would have wrap up meetings at the end of the day, some would insist that the rep come back to check in with the office.
Other managers basically take a 'I don't care how you work your day as long as you deliver results on time'. Each of these extremes have their proponents and detractors.
Personally I have been both over my career and have adopted an "It depends" attitude of which works best. When things are working with a team that is generally delivering results, I tend toward the Results Oriented approach, while when people are not delivering results, I tend to be more prescriptive in my approach with boundaries, face time and timetables.
This is what has worked for me. I would be interested to see what other (sales) managers are doing and what works for them. Any thoughts out there?