did you know?
When Gap Outlet gave high-commitment a try, turnover in the production and technical services teams dropped by 50 percent.
wise words we heard
Trust changes everything.
Ninety-five percent of all employees are responsible and ethical and want to do their jobs well.
High-commitment workplaces manage to them, not to the bad apples for whom so many restrictive work policies are created. In a high-commitment work environment, employees are treated as responsible adults trusted to manage their time and company resources well. Responsibilities at work and outside of work are respected and supported. Ownership of work falls squarely on the shoulders of those who need to get the job done, encouraging employees to buy-in to the organization wholeheartedly by giving them control over the decisions that affect their work.
High-commitment work practices come in a variety of forms. The results-only work environment (ROWE) was first implemented at Best Buy. ROWE evaluates and manages workers based only on their results. It narrows managerial focus to output (Was the product high-quality? Delivered on time? Did the worker hit his numbers?), not traditional productivity metrics (number of absences or hours worked) or face time. Workers are responsible for managing their own time.
A second form is the High Performance Workplace, spearheaded by HPWP Consulting. This organization has been working with manufacturers for 20 years to develop work environments where all workers are trusted and empowered to contribute to the company bottom line to the best of their abilities. The manufacturers benefit from team dynamics where workers understand that their success is dependent upon each other and that businesses success is dependent upon the teams. High performance workplaces eliminate signs of “second-class citizenship” among workers.
High-commitment work practices have been around for decades but have not yet become the norm, though most people who have worked in a high-commitment work environment never want to work any other way. Though it’s been a slow start, there is hope: In the spring of 2010, the federal government launched a pilot ROWE program that may well become a new best practice for managing government workers. Indeed, more and more employers are finding that when they treat employees with trust and respect, they get performance that validates that trust.
Advice for Employers
- Adopt a management vision to recognize people as people. In a high-performance work environment, employees are whole people with skills and lives; they are not just subordinates.
- Remember that one bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch. Build your culture and organization around the 95 percent who can be trusted. Those who don’t wish to do their best will show themselves; management need not be tailored to “out” them.
- Identify and eliminate signs of “second-class citizenship.” Executive dining rooms, reserved parking, and resources distributed based on seniority instead of need all signal to employees they lack value and significance.
- Implement interdepartmental hiring teams. For high performance workplaces, distribute responsibility and tap into the experiential knowledge that workers already possess.
- Train, baby, train! Before implementing a pilot ROWE program, participants should learn the philosophy and became well-versed in its tenets.
- Manage the change. Make sure you don’t launch and leave. Communicate and check in often about how it’s going.
- Measure the results. One of the most persuasive tools in overhauling management structures is good data.
Food, Fashion and a Little History
Good work, moms!: No one seems to know exactly what to thank for the 43% drop in obesity among 2- to 5-year-olds. Michelle Obama? Food stamp changes that make fruits and veggies more affordable for low-income families?
I know who to thank: You…moms. Many factors probably contribute to this huge improvement, but the fact that kids are getting fewer sugar-packed drinks also points to you.
“Free trade” comes to your kitchen: What does global trade have to do with what you feed your family? Plenty. International trade deals can limit the safety standards we require for imported food and how much inspection is allowed—at a time when we really need to know what we’re putting on our dinner tables.
Massive trade deals now under discussion—one among countries on the Atlantic and one among Pacific nations—are being negotiated in secret, behind closed doors. And now some in Congress are proposing “fast track” trade authority to get new, secretly negotiated trade deals through Congress in a hurry, with no amendments, limited debate and not nearly enough public scrutiny. Sound fishy? I agree. You can sign a petition to stop “fast track” here.
They work hard for the money: It may look glamorous, but modeling is hard work—and the women and girls who do it to sell high fashion are subject to some very ugly working conditions, from long hours and sexual coercion to excessive pressure to be skinny. So some models have joined together to create the Model Alliance to gain a voice on the job and in the industry. The Model Alliance, formed two years ago, won a fantastic New York State law this fall giving young models the same workplace protections that cover child performing artists.
Listen to former teen model Jennifer Sky share more about why models really need a voice at work.
Historic: One of the women with whom we should acquaint our families during Women’s History Month is Frances Perkins—President Franklin Roosevelt’s Labor secretary, the first woman to hold a cabinet position and a mom. Perkins witnessed New York City’s tragic Triangle Shirtwaist garment factory fire in 1911, which claimed the lives of 146 workers—mostly young women. She called the experience “a never-to-be-forgotten reminder of why I had to spend my life fighting conditions that could permit such a tragedy.”
We can thank Frances Perkins for shaping so much that workers take for granted today—unemployment benefits and pensions, workplace safety standards, the minimum wage, overtime pay, an end to child labor and—especially dear to me—collective bargaining. Thank you, Frances!
Question for you: I’m always intrigued by stories of events and inspirations that make women step up, stand up and become activists and leaders. For Frances Perkins it was a catastrophic fire. For me, it was watching my dad lose his hard-earned pension when Enron’s house of cards collapsed—months before he was supposed to retire. What was it for you? Please let me know by leaving your comments below. Thanks!