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May 24, 2007

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Timely post and thanks for the great resources. I am (in a sneaky way) trying to implement ROWE, at least for my IT department, in the nonprofit where it works. I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on this and how it might work.

Shannon, if you read both the Business Week and Time articles, you'll see that the Best Buy folks were "sneaky" about implementing ROWE themselves. It started as a number of under-the-radar experiments that eventually gathered steam. As they were able to demonstrate positive impact, it grew until it became so clear that that it was working well, it was eventually brought to the CEO for a more formal implementation.

Michele, your husband must work for Intel ;-)
I felt my skin crawl, and hot sweats, flashing back just thinking about the corporate hell and the mighty clock watching managers.
I say, manage the work...the people can manage themselves.
Good post!!!

Michele:

Have just recently discovered your blog and am enjoying reading!

I work with a lot of nonprofits in the areas of performance management and pay. I don't have personal experience with ROWE, but I would expect that its success depends on having effective ways, other than face time, to manage and assess employee work performance (e.g., clear performance expectations and desired outcomes, solid goal-setting processes, etc.). The performance management thing is an area that many nonprofits struggle with (for a number of reasons, including lack of funding for resources and skill development in this area), and I think that this would be a prerequisite to successfully implementing an approach like ROWE. So ... while I think the possibilities are intriguing - as you point out - I also think that a certain amount of groundwork would have to come first!

Hi Ann--I absolutely agree with you that prior to implementing an ROWE approach, you have to have a good idea of how you'll measure results. Regardless of whether or not a nonprofit goes with ROWE, though, I think that they need to revisit this issue. Thinking that someone is doing a good job because you see them plugging away at their desk all day isn't a great way to run an organization no matter what. I also tend to have less patience anymore with nonprofit complaints that there's no funding available to do a better job with developing better measures for employee results. With so many resources readily available on the Internet for free, they could at least get much closer to where they need to be on their own. It's one of those areas where the investment of time is well worth it.

Michele,
This is a really timely post for me, especially as our organization is thinking of implementing a work-from-home policy. We're looking at this issue mainly because we don't have the physical space to hire more staff, and want to see how the work could get done remotely to save on overhead costs. But for us as a nonprofit, it's not so much an issue of how will we measure the performance of folks who work from home, seeing as how our staff is already willing to work until 9 in the evening to get projects done if they need to, like you said in your notes, it's really about how to now try to institute this new work culture that is not dependent on having everyone at the office every day. Thanks for these resources!

Rosetta

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