Noam Cohen, a co-founding partner at CGL, is passionate about task-based workloads. Task-based workloads involve employees taking on work that is within their job description and workload capacity. Employees then take ownership of those tasks, working on them on a schedule that makes sense for them instead of on the employer’s clock.
What this means is that employees at CGL have work they need to do, and they’re expected to do it on time (every time) and to a high standard. However, no one is watching over them asking how they’re getting the work done or when they’re doing it.
Here’s a snippet from one of her recent posts on LinkedIn:
“All the perks. All the “fun activities.” All the “support”.
But it still won’t solve the fundamental problem.
The separation of your personal and professional lives. Having to commute for hours each day, in addition to all the time spent getting ready. Spending almost all your waking hours away from the comforts of your home and loved ones. Arriving at home with no energy for anything. Having to spend most of your salary on the exorbitant costs of living in a big city where all the good, high paying jobs are located. Having someone look over your shoulder and judge you based on how much time you spend in a chair.
The solution is simple.
Let people work from home. Pay them according to the value they bring, even if they choose to live somewhere super affordable. Let them manage their own time. Don’t make them choose between family and work. Empower them to decide how to manage their own well-being. Be super intentional with the time you take from them.
Treat them like adults.
Treat them the way you would want to be treated.”
We’ve had queries about how to manage task-based workloads in practice so in this 5 Tip Friday, we’re sharing some of our wisdom about managing task-based workloads.
Tip 1: Communication is Key to Success with Task-Based Workloads.
Communication is a big part of running any workplace well. But it’s particularly important when people have different schedules or are operating across different time zones (as is the case for many remote or distributed workplaces). At CGL, good communication ensures our managers and clients feel secure that work is going as planned.
The line between micromanagement and good communication can seem blurry, particularly where employees and managers have different styles. But there is a (very big) difference between micromanagement and good communication.
Micromanagement involves the manager monitoring and controlling every part of a project or a team member’s workload. This has the effect of reducing engagement, enthusiasm, creativity, autonomy, and input and can result in increased employee burnout, attrition, and turnover.
Good communication is beneficial and very healthy in the workplace. It drives collaboration, helps to manage expectations, and ensures everyone is on the same page. The key is to develop communication strategies that work for each team member. Some may prefer a weekly catch-up call, others may prefer a quick email update following major milestones, but all should be discussed in advance. Communication requirements have to be clear to all parties to be met.
Tip 2: Project Management Technologies Are A Game Changer.
Project management technology can help keep the fear associated with relinquishing control at bay. Generally speaking, these make it possible for users to create projects. Within these projects, tasks can be allocated to relevant individuals, deadlines can be assigned, relevant documents and work products can be linked so they’re accessible by all, and accountabilities are clear.
Having this information all in one place and accessible to everyone provides the whole team with up-to-date insights. By logging in, each person can see what has been done, what’s outstanding, and what (if anything) needs to change to keep the project running smoothly.
Tip 3: Define Employee Roles and Key Responsibilities, Clearly.
We have heard many folks state that they don’t think their employees will take responsibility for their workloads and deadlines without a great deal of oversight. To be frank, there may be some employees out there who won’t work well with a task-based workload. But this hasn’t been our experience. Our employees have shown themselves to be motivated, engaged, and excited to be able to undertake challenging work in a way that makes sense to them.
To achieve this, we make sure that management and employees understand their roles and key responsibilities. We ask our employees what they need from us to achieve the work they are tasked with, and we trust them to do it and do it well. Then, we follow up with each employee (and our clients) to ensure everyone’s needs are being met. This helps us refine our process and tailor it to our attorneys and our clients, where needed.
Tip 4: Develop Promotion Criteria That Reward Non-Time-Based Metrics.
If your business adopts a model that doesn’t rely on how much time your employees work, you should consider developing performance-based promotion criteria. Some metrics we consider include value contributed by employees to the firm’s growth, culture, infrastructure, etc., mentorship of other team members, client retention and satisfaction, and business development efforts.
As an added bonus, this evens the playing field for folks and also helps to ensure you have a diverse skill set at the head of your company, since you’re rewarding results – not how long it took someone to do their job.
Tip 5: Accept That a Successful Task-Based Workplace is an Ongoing Process.
Transitioning from a time-in-chair-based workload to a task-based workload requires a shift in mentality. This can be a difficult mental switch for people who have spent their entire career commuting to an office where there was likely at least one micromanager. Everyone has had their own journey to your company. On top of that, they’ve also had their own personal experiences and they have individual characteristics. What this means is that the transition to task-based workloads is going to look and feel different for each of your employees. In turn, this means that the process for implementing task-based workloads is never complete. Instead, it should be constantly reviewed, revised, and adapted for your incoming employees – with the knowledge that the end result is worth it!
If you have any further tips for employers considering task-based workloads, we would love to hear them!
Got a burning question you’d like us to cover in a future 5 Tip Friday? Let us know.
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