Managing People Versus Managing Work: How Successful Remote Teams Manage

Woman in black blouse sitting in front of silver laptop

(May 2020) – Manage work, not people. This is the first rule of the Results Only Work Environment. First introduced as a management approach by Jodi Thompson and Cali Ressler, two managers who immortalized the approach in their first book Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It: The Results-Only Revolution, ROWE is exactly what the name implies: a workplace that measures success mainly by the substance and quality of the work getting done.

As more and more people begin to work from home, people are looking for ways to navigate new territory. Those who have begun to adopt the ROWE approach focus on the what of the work, not the where and when of the people doing it. Here are some tips from ROWE teams for just how to do that:

  • Outline goals and tasks and expectations: You can’t focus on the what of the work, if you don’t know what it is. Outlining the goal for the project and the tasks required to complete it, rather than just creating vague assignments, gives teams a clearer idea of expectations, a way to understand progress.
  • Assign tasks clearly: accountability is key in a results-only environment, so making it clear who is assigned what is vital. Once you have outlined the tasks, make it clear, whether through the virtual meetings, messaging, or a project management system, who is responsible for each task.
  • Show your progress: being productive is more important than looking productive. In a results-focused team, your progress isn’t logged by how many hours you sit at your desk, or how few breaks you take. Progress is measured by the tasks you accomplish. Whether at a desk in a cubicle for eight strictly defined hours, at a home office at 2 a.m., or from a cafe early in the morning in another time zone, the measurement of success is that the work gets done. Being able to check off that a task is accomplished, send a status update, or check-in another way, shows your team that the work is being done.

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About the author

Meaghan Branham

Meaghan Branham is the managing editor for i4 Business, where she oversees the company’s digital media strategy, handles client relationship marketing for the print and digital magazines, and serves as one of the publication’s lead writers. A native of Brevard County, she splits her time between Central Florida and Nashville, Tennessee.

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