You’re a startup founder or a team lead, your brain buzzing with the day’s tasks. You look across the virtual room (a.k.a, your Slack channel), and there’s a creeping silence.
An engineer hasn’t updated their progress in hours. Panic seizes you as you wonder: “Is this person working?” But your well-intended check-in turns into a three-hour Zoom marathon. Congratulations! Your engineer just lost three hours of productivity.
So, What’s the Real Problem Here?
Let’s get one thing straight: The problem isn’t your engineer idle. It isn’t the well-structured PRD, the roadmap, or the tickets you diligently prepared. It’s the culture we’ve created around remote work —specifically, the culture created by inexperienced remote managers.
Why are we micro-managing when we should be macro-managing? Why are we concentrating on hours logged instead of results? We’re so caught up in monitoring every move and keystroke that we lose sight of what truly matters.
Are We Asking the Wrong Questions?
Rather than asking, “Is this person working?” shouldn’t we ask, “What results did this person achieve today?”
Instead of obsessing over eight-hour workdays, wouldn’t it make more sense to focus on what’s been accomplished in a day, a week, or a month?
Shift the Focus: It’s All About Results
Yes, it’s time to change the narrative. Time to shift from micromanaging to macro-managing. Time to move from obsessive monitoring to a result-oriented approach.
Because here’s the thing: Results matter.
In every project phase—be it just starting, building a prototype, or closing in on a major release—you have expectations or results.
Your role as a leader isn’t to scrutinize every minute of your team’s day. Your role is to clarify those results, guide your team towards them, and celebrate when they’re achieved.
Practical Guide: Moving to a Result-oriented Culture
- Define Clear Expectations: Use SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals. Each team member should know exactly what’s expected of them.
- Trust and Empower: Give your team the freedom to accomplish their tasks in the best way they see fit. Trust them to manage their time effectively.
- Communicate Effectively: Keep communication channels open. Regular check-in (not micro-manage) to provide support, not surveillance.
- Celebrate Achievements: When a team member achieves a goal, recognize it. Celebrate small wins as well as big ones.
- Promote Continuous Learning: Encourage your team to improve continuously. Provide resources for their professional development.
- Feedback, not Fear: Foster an environment where feedback is encouraged, not feared. It’s a tool for growth, not a weapon for criticism.
This shift to a results-oriented culture doesn’t happen overnight. It requires patience, trust, and continuous effort. But once you achieve it, you’ll find that your team is more productive, engaged, and happier. And isn’t that what we all want in the end?
For further reading, I’d recommend Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, which offers more insights into shifting towards a result-oriented work culture.