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December 2006

No Need to Show Up In the Office - Just Perform...

Was looking at the stack of mail this week and the cover of Business Week immediately caught my eye- previewing an article detailing an lofty experiment Best Buy HQ is conducting in their workplace - encouraging their workers that office hours and "face time" don't matter as long as the work gets done.  Here's a except from the story -

Bw_cover_4 At most companies, going AWOL during daylight hours would be grounds for a pink slip. Not at Best Buy. The nation's leading electronics retailer has embarked on a radical--if risky--experiment to transform a culture once known for killer hours and herd-riding bosses. The endeavor, called ROWE, for "results-only work environment," seeks to demolish decades-old business dogma that equates physical presence with productivity. The goal at Best Buy is to judge performance on output instead of hours.

Hence workers pulling into the company's amenity-packed headquarters at 2 p.m. aren't considered late. Nor are those pulling out at 2 p.m. seen as leaving early. There are no schedules. No mandatory meetings. No impression-management hustles. Work is no longer a place where you go, but something you do. It's O.K. to take conference calls while you hunt, collaborate from your lakeside cabin, or log on after dinner so you can spend the afternoon with your kid.

Could this experiment work in your workplace?  For most, the answer is a resounding "NO".   The BW article is a good read, but it seems to focus on the barriers that the "old school" managers put up - secretlyOld_school  wanting to scrap the program and looking for opportunities to derail it - so they can get back to things the way they used to be.  That means meetings where everyone is there, walking around and seeing all the peeps, etc.   While these barriers to such a program are real and can't be understated, the article really doesn't focus enough on what is need to make it work - a super-solid performance management system that enables managers to feel like they can measure performance regardless of where the employee is located or at in a given hour/day/month/year....

From an HR perspective, if you want to experiment with something like this, Performance Management is your first stop - making sure your system focuses on true objectives that are measurable and force accountability across the organization.  If you are an employee and want to get away for a little quiet time where you can actually get some work done, start by asking to take it off site one project at a time, then deliver results and above all else - make sure your manager knows you delivered and the off-site time was key.   And of course - answer the phone every time it rings and hit email's at least once an hour....  The quickest way to lose the priviledge is to not be responsive when it matters most - when your boss is calling...

What Companies Can Learn From the Alabama Coaching Search

ShulaIf you follow college football, you have undoubtedly caught wind of the difficulties The University of Alabama has had finding a football coach to replace Mike Shula.    First up, the search (as with all major coaching vacancies) has been conducted in a very public way, with potential candidates being identified in the media often before they have been contacted by Crimson Tide officials.  The complications are obvious - candidates who might be interested have to provide spin control even before they have talked to anyone about the offer - after all, what if it doesn't work out and they decide to stay?

The public flavor of this makes me think about counteroffers in general.  How does each party - the candidate and the company - maximize themselves when counteroffers become part of the game?

My take for candidates is pretty simple.  First the good news - your interest in another job will not show up on the front pages, meaning you have strong ability to go out and talk to other companies as long as you use a good deal of discretion.  Now for the bad news - if you get the point of letting your current employer know you are considering or have accepted another offer, never (never!) do it with the goal of generating a counteroffer for more money/responsibility/etc.  The road of accepted counteroffers is littered with examples of why it doesn't work out for either the employer or the employee.  Bad blood is often the result of the accepted counteroffer, meaning the candidate's departure is simply delayed while the organization suffers.

For the recruiter/company pursuing talent, the specter of the counteroffer means a couple of things.  FirstRod_1   up, you have to put your best foot forward during the recruiting/interview process to make sure the candidate is overwhelmed by how your company handles the process.  That means having the recruiter, HR team, hiring manager and others that interview SELLING the positives about the opportunity and the company.  The probability of a counteroffer being accepted is directly correlated to the image in the candidates head - if the recruiting company can make it more than about money, the probability of the accepted counter goes way down.   Additionally, if you have a solid performer tell you he or she is leaving, do you really want to counter?  Aren't they already mentally gone if they have gotten to the point they tell you they are leaving?

As for the Alabama coaching search?  Who knows, just be glad as a potential candidate or recruiter you don't live in this space - what a fishbowl!