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Okay, It Was Me. . .And Why My Boss Doesn’t Care

January 30, 2018

Confession time. I might have twisted the facts just slightly. But, it was to make a good point.

A little over a year ago I wrote a post called Where Do You Think YOU’RE Going? It was about Milan, a member of the team I was managing who didn’t spend enough time at his desk.

It was me. . .Milan, I mean. Enough time has passed that I can tell the real story of what happened. I worked for a manager who ranked be sitting at your desk very high on his job skills scale. It was maddening. I put in 60-70 hour weeks. I was available 100% of the time (and my clients called me.) But, I nearly got written up because I was not sitting in my cubicle between the hours of 7:00am and 2:00pm. It wasn’t my only issue with his management style and I nearly left the company over it.

What a difference a year makes. I have the same job. In fact, my role has been expanded to include security, audits and more executive level communication. I now work 70-80 hour weeks. I’ve been gone on trips more than I’ve been home so far in 2018. And my boss, my new boss, is even more demanding than my old boss.

That’s a funny word “demanding.” He demands more of me, but he demands things that I believe are important. My new boss wants me to travel to our sites. He expects me to have a complete grasp on the IT aspects of my sites, the security, both physical and network, an understanding of the operational aspects. It’s stretching me more than I’ve been stretched in quite a while. He keeps saying that we will eventually get an additional person to help me, maybe two more. But, until that happens, I’m supposed to do it all.

You know what he doesn’t demand? He doesn’t demand I sit at my desk between the hours of 7:00am and 2:00pm. In fact, he doesn’t care if I sit at my desk at all. Most days he has no idea where I’m sitting. He does want to be able to reach me via email, Skype, text, or if all else fails, phone. He expects me to respond to issues as they come up. He expects me to manage my schedule and show up at the placed I need to be, on time. Even if that means I should show up in Greenville South Carolina a week from next Thursday.

As a manager, I’ve always achieved the best results by telling my team what I expect them to accomplish and then letting them amaze me with their ingenuity in getting it done. If I have a team members who needs to be at their desk during certain hours, of course, I expect that. For example, my primary method for contacting our various call centers is to call our Mission Control desk at each center. That desk absolutely needs to be manned during our hours of operation. If someone is not going to be there, I expect an email saying they’ve stepped away and when they will be returning. Sometimes, my ability to contact Mission Control quickly is the difference in our company paying a fine for missed service levels or being penalty free.

But, not every job requires it. The desktop engineers I work with are rarely at their desks. I know if I need to contact one of them quickly, I need to text or call them. I don’t view it as my needing to “track them down via their cell phone.” I view it as “use the communication media that best fits the circumstances and the person.”

I can hear the question (because I had it asked of me) “How do you know they are putting in a full days work if you don’t check up on them?”

You don’t.

It’s called trust. If you don’t trust your employees, you need to get better employees. “Management by Metric” is evidence of a weak manager. If you need a the printout of a report to understand if your employee is doing a good job, or even doing an adequate job, you need to better learn what it is that your employee does. Measure the results, not the process. There are plenty of examples of people following the process right off a cliff.

Here’s the hard part. Figure out what success for that position looks like, and then hold your employee to that standard. If they can get it all done in less time, then maybe you can add more responsibilities, as my current boss is doing to me. If they cannot get it done in a reasonable workweek, consider cutting back their responsibilities, or as my current boss is doing, consider getting them some more help.

What you shouldn’t do is micromanage them. Don’t decide that the process, especially an arbitrary process is the measure of success. If you are evaluating someone’s ability to sit at a desk for 7 hours per day, I cannot imagine what kind of a job they have. I mean if the key metric is not what they get done, but whether or not they occupy a chair outside your office for a set number of hours per day how is that useful to your company?

I’ll tell you this, if they are very good at what you pay them to accomplish, they are going to very quickly go find someone else to pay them to accomplish it. Someone who won’t care if they are working from home, or working from the office, or working from the beach so long as they are getting results.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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