Fast Company | ROWE Notes

A little background

Centresource is one of the top digital agencies in the world (and even though I'm biased, i say this mainly because of the awards we've won!)  and we employ some very talented people.  As a demographic, their relatively young (sub 35), technical, and beyond passionate about their work.  Basically, its a firm full of people that any organization would be lucky to have.

As the founder of CentreSource, I wanted the culture to support people in both their personal & professional endeavors - while also creating a place that promotes accountability & results. ROWE gave us the foundation to begin this journey and after 2 years of refinement, we have a unique management model simply called "The Merit System"

Why ROWE matters to Tech Companies

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Policies we use and Metrics we've seen

Few other things we follow:

  1. Managers meet with their direct reports every 2 weeks, in person, to discuss the person's metrics
  2. Subjective measurements are 'incentivized' through rewards like money - not specifically required. The only requirement is that employees need to pick something (and we've developed a long list of badges & specialities over time) to participate in. The employee gets to pick what they like doing - ironically making them even better when they do it.
  3. CentreSource paid out over $10K in merit money last year - and we did it happily and hope to pay out more this next year
  4. Our business metrics continue to improve, with double digit growth & much higher retention rates
  5. We have multiple employees that said they only joined us (vs a larger corporation) because of ROWE - they wanted flexibility and to be treated like professionals, not like cogs in the machine.

ROWE / Laziness

One of the main inhibitors to companies adopting a ROWE mentality is, simply put, laziness. Leaders love to 'manage on the fly' because it's easy - the employee's success is 100% dependent on how the manager feels (sadly, often at that very moment - detrimental for an annual review).

For a manager to actually codify what an employee must do to find success is very difficult & takes a lot of thought. Moreover, the manager may quickly realize that they don't even have systems in place to track the very things they want to judge the employee on - thus the reason they so heavily depended on their 'gut'.  Formalizing the expectations gives both the employee & employer something to easily identify, discuss, and improve upon.

Materials I share

These two documents are PROFOUND and I encourage everyone to read them.  I also share this blog post, from the Chief Happiness Officer, that started my whole journey down this path (I cared about start times & was shocked by the comments).  Last, Zappos has a cool 'Core Values' section for companies to review.

These aren't specific to ROWE, but they talk to a larger issue that tech firms need to address - culture matters as much, if not more, than money nowadays.