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Back to the Office - Here is Why

Everyone is talking about the back-to-the-office saga, but nobody is seeing the actual reason why people are called back. Not even those who want us back.

Yes, it is about control, real estate price, supervision etc. All that and...

They want us back because they haven't worked out what our performance looks like, so instead, they want to make sure that we don't spend our paid time on something else. That's it. Just because we have no idea how to measure performance, we have decided to measure attendance and other areas that have nothing to do with it.

And this "small" thing has significant implications on other aspects like engagement, annual appraisal, feedback, competencies etc... How?

Tell people what their expected and measurable performance looks like daily, weekly or monthly (depending on the job) because this is what you pay for. Performance or output. Based on that, have weekly conversations and see how they measure up to them. Your annual appraisal, frequent check-ins, and performance management are done.

Once the required performance is clear, let people decide how best to deliver it. If the job can be done from home, the beach or in the office, let that be. If people can deliver the required performance in three hours, let people go home. You got what you wanted from them, this is the performance outlined by you, so stop filling time and give people performance criteria.

But we cannot, so we come up with the nonsense of competencies like problem-solving, business acumen, etc., naming them as performance. They are not! They are, at best, one way to achieve performance. There is no proof that we must have that competency to be good at the job, and they are not even measurable, so I wonder what we are measuring, really. How would Debbie know and be able to measure my strategic thinking ability? She cannot.

Clarity around office jobs is the worst. I had a better understanding of my expected performance as a waitress than in any office or senior role. I remember spending days and sometimes weeks studying for my masters in the office because the performance between projects was unclear.

Unless I had a specific project to deliver, I did not understand my required performance. I went to the office to send emails and attend virtual meetings. Really? Is this performance?

So work out what people's performance looks like because it is not a project management skill in your capability framework but an actual output, and let them deliver.

By doing this, you'll realise that you don't need to talk about behavioural competencies, you can also stop debating whether we should stick to the annual appraisal process or move to quarterly check-ins. None of the above.

Tell people what their measurable performance is and let them get on with it. Why do you think freelancers and project workers are so efficient and immersed in their jobs? They have clarity around the required performance.

That's it! Because without that clarity, I genuinely don't know what you are measuring or managing WINK:-)

PS: And you wonder why Gen Z is running away? They hate inefficiencies and ambiguity around outcomes ... More about that here.

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