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Have you heard of ROWE?  It stands for Results-Only Work Environment, and it is solely focused on results at your workplace, not outside influencers (like time clocks, physical location requirements for work and dress codes).

And when I say results only, I mean results only.  Nothing else matters in a ROWE.  For the stodgy, technically focused profession of accounting, this seems scary.  “This kind of freedom leads to anarchy,” some partners might say.  But the opposite is actually true.

Without knowing it, our firm implemented ROWE a while back with the following two statements made to the team at our firm:

1.  I trust you,

2.  Do whatever you want.

That’s it.  No ifs, ands or buts.  Our team is SOOOO good at what they do, all you need to do is set the expectations, describe what results look like and then get out of the way.  Truly, nothing else matters.

Through out the history of work, we’ve been trained to believe that outward motivators (carrots and sticks) are what make people do what they do.  But we have been confused as to what truly motivates people (see a great TED Talk video on this from Daniel Pink).  People are not motivated by what you think they are motivated by.  The right people (which are the only people that should work at your firm) do the right thing when given the freedom to flourish and thrive in their environments.  It’s intrinsic to their nature.

Cali and Jody of CultureRx (the creators of ROWE) wrote a blog post on how implementing corporate culture changes, such as a ROWE, leads to Innovation.  Which ones has your firm implemented?

Hiearchy is horizontal – management has authority over resources and strategy, but no power over people’s time.

Leadership serves – there is no ‘command and control’ leadership styles in an innovative work culture. Leaders coach, mentor and encourage their teams.

Time is powerless – a traditional work week does not exist in these environments, and time spent at work does not equate to success.

Orientation is organizational – employees can work on different projects within the same company, free to cross the organizational boundaries of the enterprise.

Results are king (no one is entitled) – status or position mean nothing, while results are everything, and the only thing.

Does this scare you? Are you a control freak? In the near future, I’ll have some videos of our team (if I can find them) tell you what ROWE has meant to them.  See ya.

  • On 11-10-2011 at 2:54 pm, W. Michael Hsu said:

    Cool stuff Jason. Please do share the video! We want to see it!

    Reply
  • On 01-07-2012 at 6:20 pm, Jr Deputy Accountant said:

    Thanks for this, Jason, we’re currently trying to think about some of these things at work (non-accounting) and this is helpful.

    The problem is that it’s SCARY. I don’t consider myself a control freak but how do you, as management, truly let go when it is your job, as management, to control? Or is that not your job at all?

    Reply
    • Jason Blumer

      On 01-07-2012 at 7:26 pm, thriveal said:

      Yep, no control is necessary if you have the right people. That is the point of R.O.W.E. – to get the right people on the bus so you can get down to business, not baby-sit losers.

      Reply
  • On 06-11-2015 at 7:28 pm, Emmy said:

    How do you compensate people on the ROWE?

    Specifically in a CPA environment – are you paying based on “results” (aka completed projects, setting up new processes, accomplishing professional goals), or do you pay a salary and set minimum expectations of work to be done? (complete these 250 tax returns)

    Reply
    • Jennifer Blumer

      On 06-16-2015 at 5:00 pm, Jennifer Blumer said:

      Emmy, this is HARD. Our firm pays on a percentage of revenue for the work that the CPAs do for a client. It has been tweaked a LOT and probably will again.

      Reply

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