08 October 2012

The New York Times: “Measure Results, Not Hours, to Improve Work Efficiency”

IT’S 5 p.m. at the office. Working fast, you’ve finished your tasks for the day and want to go home. But none of your colleagues have left yet, so you stay another hour or two, surfing the Web and reading your e-mails again, so you don’t come off as a slacker. Robert C. Pozen

Guilty as charged!

For a study published most recently in 2010, three researchers, led by Kimberly D. Elsbach, a professor at the University of California, Davis, interviewed 39 corporate managers about their perceptions of their employees. The managers viewed employees who were seen at the office during business hours as highly dependable and reliable. Employees who came in over the weekend or stayed late in the evening were seen as committed and dedicated to their work.

I wish I could say it’s something rare, but I noticed this kind of attitude – both from managers and from employees – over and over again… If you don’t do overtime, it’s like you didn’t even show up for work in the first place.

The reactions of these managers are understandable remnants of the industrial age, harking back to the standardized nature of work on an assembly line. But a measurement system based on hours makes no sense for knowledge workers. Their contribution should be measured by the value they create through applying their ideas and skills.

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