This Ain’t Your Grandpa’s Workplace

Do your processes help your work, or hurt it?

The modern workplace follows ideas developed during the factory era. Clock the calls. Put up a punch clock for when we eat and pee. Time the intervals between calls. Track ticket times. Scheduled reviews. I’m sure there’s more, but thinking about this stuff tends to give me gas.

Back in the day, optimizing the work this way made sense. When you could outperform your competition by loading the conveyor belt faster, then you made sure employees were moving their arm from one spot to another a particular way, optimized for speed, and that the schedule was clear and predictable.

It doesn’t make any sense anymore in a knowledge economy.

When we feel time pressure, we go into fight or flight mode. When we’re concerned about our safety (as we are in fight or flight mode), we can’t think creatively. Those two things literally cannot happen in our brains at the same time.

In a knowledge economy, we need creativity more than ever. Innovation. New ideas, new ways of operating. We need to encourage creativity, not stifle it.

We need to embrace how we work as humans and make sure that we only use processes that help us as humans. So …

Stop: Punch Clocks
Punch clocks create stress (whether they’re physical or digital). Drop the sign-ins.

Start: Arrival Window
If you trust your employees to get the work done, and you’re not operating under an immediate deadline, is there harm in having an arrival window instead of an exact time? (Hint: Probably not.) Focus on whether or not the work is getting done.

Stop: Efficiency Metrics
Or just measuring so much in general. Chances are, some of your most well-loved client reps are as beloved as they are because they take extra time with the clients. Some of your most efficient reps may tend to blow off calls to the follow-up team. Some information is necessary, but probably not as much as you’re currently tracking. I’ve seen some of the biggest companies try to track and analyze this information, when the best thing to do is simply support your employees.

Start: Employee Support
When your employees feel supported, they’re going to want to help the company do well. They’re going to want to have good times, not because someone is putting it on a chart in a one-on-one, but because they actually care about what they do. Employee support is simple – treat employees and coworkers like people. Listen to them. Hear what’s happening in their lives. Give them support when they need to go early or arrive late.

Stop: Performance Review Meetings
Of any shape and size. Whether it’s the annual review or the monthly one-on-one, these only waste time. Here again, the employee’s brain goes into fight or flight, and while you are able to give feedback efficiently from the management perspective (during a scheduled time of the month), it’s largely lost on the employee as they will have little creative space in their brain to process the feedback and think up creative solutions.

Start: Immediate Feedback
When something noteworthy happens (good or bad), tell the employee when it’s observed. Low pressure immediate feedback, with cooperative brainstorming for how to repeat the good events and prevent the bad ones, is far less stressful on the employee than performance reviews, and are more effective. Feedback from peers is equally as important, especially praise. Raise each other up.

What processes would you like to see go at your company? What would you do instead?

Let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

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