Surveillance vs Autonomy – which one improves more the productivity?

I received a LinkedIn connection request yesterday, with a message “Keep me on your radar please” – so I accepted the request and messaged the guy asking him what’s his top skill or passion.

He said he is trying to build a community around a new app that his company is building, an app that increases productivity with 30% by — get this — taking screenshots of what their employees are doing throughout the day.

Their proof? He said Forbes says employees spend at least 1 hour per day on distracting websites, social media, blogs ( — you better read this article FAST!), etc.

My response?

I get it that in some cultures, people don’t have the opportunity to love what they do, to explore and develop their passions and get jobs that they love and find pleasure, meaning and pride in being the best at. Yes, it’s sad, but it happens.

So the real solution is three fold:

  1. Offer people context and opportunities to build knowledge into an area they are passionate or skilled in.
  2. Offer jobs for people where they can use those skills.
  3. Build a autonomy, mastery and purpose driven professional culture.

Here’s in a nutshell Daniel H. Pink’s framework on autonomy, mastery and purpose presented in his book “Drive”, used by many people leaders nowadays, along with some of my personal thoughts.

Autonomy is the need to have control on your life on what you do, freedom to strategize and get work done aligned with the other priorities and values of your life.

An example of empowering your staff with autonomy is working from home, work based on milestones and commitments, not on hourly quantity of deliverables. People have emotions, ups and downs, energy and focus spikes and downtimes. Autonomy allows them to choose what works best for them in terms of schedule, pace under the assumptions that they will deliver the best outcome that way.

I work a lot with remote teams. And one of the first things I tell them is: I don’t care if you’re in your pijamas, or shorts, or on the bus, or picking up your kids from school. If that gives you comfort, reduces your home stress, makes you feel more like “yourself”, if that makes you speak up your mind, and contribute more, and deliver best, as long as it’s respectful or others, please, go ahead and enjoy flexibility and autonomy. And the truth is that people who have autonomy will by be there for you when you need them the most.

Image result for working in pijama

Mastery is the drive to get better, to set goals and processes to achieve them, to aim high and become an expert, the best that you can be.

The desire for mastery is fed by self esteem that comes from the recognition that we receive from other, the praise from other colleagues, the gratefulness of our customers. It’s a positive circle on seing what a better you can do for you and for others.

How I’ve implement mastery for my clients was defining roles and responsibilities, and the impact that each role or skill level has for our end product or customer, and this way people can connect how good they are with what impact they make. I’ve also implemented OKRs, with weekly reports and Scrum that help people commit to targets and see their progress, facilitating a competition with themselves, a positive one.

Purpose is found in the direct correlation between what we do and what we care the most about in this life, our values and beliefs.

This is the most tricky one in my opinion. I believe people cannot have personal lives and separately have professional lives. We are humans 24 hours a day. And the more we find purpose in what we do, the more we feel that we live, the more work becomes part of life and not just paying for life.

And I know that some jobs are disconnected from our passions, but there is one common ground: in all the jobs we add some kind of value to other people. So for my consulting clients I’ve built demoes with the final customer, involved people from various departments in support tickets, facilitate employees to speak as direct as possible with the users or clients of the company, showing them how their work is making others people better.

We also brought personal matter to work, open discussions about life outside work if they feel comfortable. Talk openly about each-other’s values, encouraging differences and celebrating uniqueness.

Want to chat about the culture and productivity in your company and have a free audit and scoring? Contact me or reach me on LinkedIn.

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