Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It – Interview with the Authors

Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It

This site has given me the ability to be in contact with some great thought leaders. Cali and Jody ofWhy Work Sucks and How to Fix It, (read the book review here) were kind enough to grant me a interview.


Their book really emphasizes on creating results instead of just “being there.” An employee’s ability to produce positive results is what really matters. Every company that I’ve ever worked for threw sludge (snide comments from co-workers). Just last week I heard a comment about me coming in late when in reality I was giving a talk to a local organization, promoting our services.


Check out the interview and see if your company may be interested in creating a Results Only Work Environment (ROWE).


Here are my questions:


1. When sludge is the norm, what is the best technique to break these habits?


The first step is realizing that Sludge exists, and that it’s affecting productivity levels and bringing people down. The second thing you can do is start being conscious of the comments you’re making in the work environment. If, for example, you see someone getting up to leave at 3:30 p.m., you might think “She’s leaving early again. The rest of us have to sit around here like slaves and she gets to leave!” The key here is not saying these things out loud. Instead, examine why you’re so upset by your co-worker leaving at 3:30. Is it because you believe that people who are dedicated stay until 6:00 p.m.? Is it because you believe that people who “leave early” are getting by with something you’re not? This examination of beliefs helps people see how outdated their thoughts are – and how they’re not focused on the one thing that matters: results.

One of the things that is so effective about ROWE is that every piece of the migration, including Sludge Eradication, happens with an entire team together. So as people are examining and shifting their beliefs, everyone around them is reinforcing them and holding them accountable. Trying to shift your beliefs on your own – or being the only person trying to help someone else shift their beliefs – is difficult. But moving together toward a common vision of focusing on results is powerful, effective, and motivating.


2. I loved the testimonials in the book, but one caught me off guard. How does an employee go on tour with a band for a couple of weeks without causing dissension in the organization? Do you have a method of airing grievances?


In a ROWE, work isn’t a place you go – it’s something you do. This means that there are many employees that don’t work in the physical office setting for days on end. Whether they’re touring with a band, sitting in their home office, at their lake cabin, or in Jamaica, it doesn’t matter – as long as the work is getting done. Not seeing someone does not equate to the work not getting done. In the instance of Trey in the book, he tours with his favorite band and his productivity has increased by four times in a ROWE – now that’s getting to your results!


3. You have been doing the book circuit and talking to companies about ROWE. What is their biggest opposition to it and what do you say to calm their fears?


The biggest opposition we run into is the shift from focusing on time/number of hours worked (or perceived to be worked) to results. Moving to a ROWE takes a complete paradigm shift. The culture of work needs to change and one of the things we can do to move in the right direction is stop implementing flexibility programs over the existing industrial model of work. Flexibility programs are all about time, and tracking when people are working. Just about every employer says they value output over face-time, but then they reinforce outdated rules and policies about when, where, and how long work should take. Ultimately, we’re serving two masters under the current system: time and results. Until we completely eradicate time from the equation, we will never be fully invested in results. Organizations are full of managers in their late 40s and early 50s who have clawed their way to the top within the industrial model. But they, too, want a better life. Generation Y will force the issue, and ROWE will be the vehicle of change that will allow all of us to achieve the lifestyle we want.


In ROWE teams, productivity is up an average of 41% – this, in itself, is testament to the benefits of shifting the focus from hours to outcomes.


4. Have you been able to convince any other companies to try ROWE?


Yes. We just recently migrated an insurance and investment firm, JA Counter and Associates in New Richmond, WI. Companies worldwide have purchased The ROWE Launch Kit: Office Edition which contains the step-by-step, proven, systematic change management approach that enables facilitators inside organizations to establish a Results-Only Work Environment.


5. I’m curious about a company that has both hourly and salary employees. What does a company do with hourly employees? Did Best Buy ever try ROWE in their stores?


Best Buy corporate has both hourly and salaried employees operating in a Results-Only Work Environment. The key difference is that hourly employees must follow the department of labor guidelines for tracking hours. But, corporate hourly employees do not have work schedules and they can do whatever they want, whenever they want as long as their work gets done. They do not have to ask permission to manage their work and life any way they see fit. Hourly employees flex with the demand of their lives and the needs of the business just like salaried employees.


Thank You Cali and Jody for answering my questions. If you liked their answers then I would suggest checking out their Blog and book atAmazon.com.


Articles That Will Knock Your Socks Off and Are Also Related to this Interview:



Image Courtesy of Cali and Jody’s Blog

8 thoughts on “Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It – Interview with the Authors”

  1. Hi Karl,

    What a fabulous interview. Your questions were great. I like how they said “…moving together toward a common vision of focusing on results is powerful, effective, and motivating.” That’s a good reminder that this has to be a group effort, not just one manager or supervisor trying to make a giant change. A business runs so much better when everyone is on the same page.

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..Interview With Lorelle VanFossen – Part 9- A Recap Plus A Bonus

  2. Great article, Karl…I definitely think that one way to make work better is by having a four day workweek..I think that the ROWE is a great idea- but I’m not sure how practical it would be since many employers would probably be hesitant to go for it..

  3. Hi Barbara, work is a group effort. If everyone thought of themselves as a vital team member then there would be more engagement.

    Hi Janelle, I would love a four day work week, but my upper management wouldn’t go for it either.

  4. Quite often salaried employees are also in supervisory management positions. In my case I have tasks associated being a project manager, that I can accomplish in anywhere from 1 hour to 5 hours depending on the day. BUT, I am also expected to be accessible to my staff and my boss. In other words, anywhere from 2 to 6 hours of my day could be spent simply waiting for someone to walk into my office, or give me a call.

    Okay, it’s systemic, which is why I need to work for myself and ROWE to my heart’s content

    Urban Panther’s last blog post..The undisciplined Panther

  5. @Karl – yes I do, but I have a plan that needs to worked at patiently. It’s all good. If all goes according to plan, I should be on my own part time in 5 years, and totally on my own in 10 years. Seems like a long time, but I want to be realistic.

    Urban Panther’s last blog post..The undisciplined Panther

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