Give Employees a Chance to Break the Rules

In an article from Talent blog author Mike Prokopeak, employees are currently more adept to managing their own time and work. Prokopeak collaborates with author Bill Jensen in this article to discuss how breaking the rules can lead to results.

The corporate environments for the most part don’t get it. They’re not acknowledging that people can take control of their time and attention as they see fit and they’re not designing tools and infrastructure – and learning operations and everything else – according to the needs of the workforce. They’re designing them according to the needs of the company.

Jensen and a hacker cohort, Josh Klein, recently published Hacking Work: Breaking Stupid Rules for Smart Results. The book was inspired by computer hackers, to show the “cheat codes” that help people work around corporate barriers and accomplish more.

Jensen said the processes, procedures, and tools, which is also known as the organizational infrastructure, are corporate-centered. This creates stifling complexity and often meaningless work. With the wave of mobile devices, apps, and other personal electronics, employees have more control over their time and attention. Jensen shared his frustrations with Klein at a TED conference. Klein suggested to teach employees how to work around the rules.

Jensen’s frustration stems from the assumption that employees will stay at a certain company for multiple years to reap the benefits of doing something the company’s way. However, an average young worker will hold up to 10 jobs over a 13-year period.

What can be done? Jensen said, “Like any good 12-step program, the first step is to admit that there is a problem.”

The majority of the problem rests in us getting a wake-up call and realizing we can’t keep operating this way. We’re screwing up results. We’re screwing up people. It begins with accepting the new model of how we use people’s time and attention. We have to earn it.

This does not mean that you have to give up control to your employees. And there are many tried-and-true reasons to maintain control over the system. However, letting employees create workarounds and incorporate them into procedures is appropriate. The focus here should be on giving employees the freedom to design tools while managers focus on reults and manage the risks.

These people are breaking the rules because they have to. You have a choice. Do you keep slapping them on the wrist again and again and again … or do you realize what these people are going after and how do we build it into our system?

Letting your employees implement a few tools and routines into their day will actually benefit by keeping their attention focused. To read the full article, click here.

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