First during a Trial Period”
We’ve told you your boss will want to know you will be as productive, if not more so. Therefore, when you work your own schedule it is even more important to be able to assess results. So reassure your boss by giving her concrete suggestions for measuring your performance, even when you are not in her line of sight.
Here are some ways to think about what exactly you might propose to measure, and how:
At Best Buy, Jody Thompson found sorting this out to be easier than she had thought. “Everything can be measured. What we found is that things that are subjective can be measured as well,” she says. “So ifl’m doing something that’s knowledge work-based, it could be measured on customer service or internal customer satisfaction.” And forcing your company to define your role can have huge strategic benefits by really creating a focus on who does what and why. She adds, “In a more flexible environment, when you’re not counting hours for an employee, you really have to think to yourself, ‘Why does this person exist, what are they supposed to be doing for this company, and how can I measure that, because I’m not using putting in time as a measurement anymore.’ We’ve seen that every single person can find a way to measure their output,” Jody adds.
Here’s one very concrete example of those benchmarks we mentioned earlier. This is how Chandra Dhandapani sets goals for her employees at Capital One, and it shows how specific they can be.
"One of my associates manages a back office function of about eighty associates and a couple of key vendors. I have set specific objectives for her including:
a) manage the budgets and make sure all costs and expenses stay within our budget commitments
b) achieve 100 percent adherence to Service Level Agreements on customer need resolution—i. e., resolve any customer escalations within a set time frame
c) establish a Quality Assurance function to drive appropriate balance across Customer Experience, Efficiency, and Effectiveness (CEEE).
In addition, I also measure associate engagement scores and associate morale scores for her team on a quarterly basis.”
Chandra doesn’t care where this associate works from or even how many hours she works, so long as she achieves those results.
“Since I measure her success based on clear targets and milestones, I don’t have to worry about the time she clocks or where she works from,” she says. “This arrangement works well for both of us, and she is one of our consistent high performers. I would say that in my experience, associates tend to go above and beyond when they feel that the company cares about them as individuals and they don’t see their work-life arrangement as a win-lose.”
In a less quantifiable environment, of course, it’s trickier but still possible. Christy Runningen of Best Buy, who is a performance coach at the company, says that the goals she works out with her boss tend to be a mix of how many people she might be able to help ideally in a given week, and also some of the softer scale measurements like the quality of the advice and the help she’s dispensing. That data is collected in an anecdotal fashion from employees and colleagues.
“We try to find that middle ground to measure,” she explains. “Some number that is tangible and easy to look at, because those soft stories are great, but we are a numbers-based company.”
If you can offer metrics like those, and then propose a trial period, say three months, with a formal review at the end, who could say no? And the trial period is the key closer. Most people will be happy to sign up for a new scheme for that short period, especially if they know there’s a chance to change aspects of the schedule later. And the fact is, if you do it well, it’s awfully hard for them to reverse what you already have in place.
Rule Six: Remember—You’re Dealing with a Jittery Child. There Will Be Worries You Haven’t Even Thought Of
Let’s give your higher-ups more time in the Womenomics sun and really examine some of the less obvious worries employers have about flexibility. We think you can address most of them fairly easily, but we wouldn’t be arming you with valuable information if we didn’t slip into the top dog’s shoes for a while and warn you about corporate fears you may not even have thought of.
This Will Open Pandora’s Box
This may be the biggest unspoken fear for all bosses who might want to consider a broader policy—the domino effect. “If I give it to Jane then Sharon will want it too,” they tell us, “and then where do I stop? Soon the whole office is working at the time and place of their choosing.” Oh my God, man the barricades, it is the spread of the Alternative Work Schedule revolution! Heaven save us from the Pink Terror!
He may not even let you know this is why he’s wavering, but if it seems appropriate, you can subtly drop this point: one huge U. S. company that has done research on this very issue found there is no risk of a major moral hazard. Accountants Deloitte and Touche have a bold company-wide flexible work program, but they have found that at any one moment only 10 percent of the staff actually opts in. The other 90 percent are happy with a traditional work structure. The dominos are mostly still standing tall.