Years ago, the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) launched an experiment called ROWE that allowed for flexible work scheduling modeled after a program set in place in 2003 at Best Buy. Unfortunately, it failed at the OPM. It failed because of the managers’ inability to hold employees accountable.
As a result, poor performers were not held responsible, work quality dropped in some cases and staff members were not consistently informed of whether they were succeeding because of insufficient feedback from their managers.
An independent study showed that while the performance of the top 25% of employees improved, that of the middle 50% and the lowest 25% both decreased, obviously not the expected outcome.
Initiatives that allow greater freedom can work when communication is open, expectations are clear and responsibility, which may shift, is still intact. Cultural changes also require time and the OPM didn’t give it enough time to be able to succeed by working out the kinks. It’s like building a home without a proper foundation or weak walls, one strong wind and poof – the house stands no more.
“Good performance accountability is about having a positive conversation between manager and employee. A manager is a coach and communicator, not command and controller.” – Dave Ulrich