Are you managing by the clock, or are you managing for results?

business people teamwork in an office with hands together

So, I recently fell into the black hole of Quora, the Q&A site. I was in the Chief Executive Officers sub-Quora (I’m not really sure what it’s called, but you get the idea), and there were a variety of riffs on this theme: “My Employees Only Work Normal Business Hours—What Do I Do About Their Lack of Commitment?” The answers range from satirical and sarcastic to genuinely helpful and concerned. While I suspect that this is an uncommon management style for a successful CEO, I know that it is absolutely alive and well among the management ranks.

What do you, as a manager, do when your employees’ commitment doesn’t match yours? Here is my advice to all you frustrated managers (and occasional CEOs):

Evaluate your metrics. If you’re making this about hours spent in the office, you are setting yourself up for failure. Work can be done anywhere, at any time. The uncomfortable truth for you is that hours “worked” do not matter. Results matter. Focus on things that matter.

Get real. Why are you equating hours “worked” with “commitment”? You’re smart. You know better than that.

Brace for change. Demanding face time may have worked well for you in the past. But the new generation of workers will not tolerate it. They are more about workplace flexibility and getting things done than they are about showing up for the sake of showing up.

Ruminate on your definition of “commitment.” If “commitment” is the level of enthusiasm and responsibility that someone has toward their job, it makes sense that there are factors going into this other than hours spent at the office.

What about a global vision? Perhaps all of your direct reports are in the same work location as you. More likely, they are dispersed and reside in different areas of the country or the world. You cannot micromanage their “hours” while being an effective leader.

Have some empathy. Most of us spend more time at work and with our coworkers than we do with our families. Is it really a negative that people want to stop working at the end of the day and go spend time with their friends and family?

Do you make it fun? Are you easy to work with? Turn the focus inward. What is it like to work for you? Are you a leader who inspires great things, or are you a manager who issues demands? Do you think your team likes working for you? If not, why?

Are your expectations reasonable? Does your expectation of “commitment” jive with reality? You need to objectively assess this.

Is your team producing results? If yes, then why focus on the so-called lack of commitment? If not, then how are you falling short? Your team’s performance is a reflection of YOUR management.


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