Age of Awareness
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Age of Awareness

Performance Management: Measure Impact Instead of Hours

I was recently given the pleasure of having a tour of the FaceBook Campus in Menlo Park, California.

There are many stories of how amazing Facebook is and it didn’t disappoint. The campus is very much focussed around people. Some examples:

  • They have a retro gaming room
  • There is a bike stop that will repair your bike if you have cycled to work
  • One of the buildings has a roof top park where you can go sun bathe or just have a walk.
  • They have a beauty spa on campus that offers massage therapy and other spa treatments.

All of the services above are offered to employees for free; if you didn’t have anywhere to live as a Facebook employee I’m quite certain you could move onto campus and live for 2 or 3 months with no real difficulty.

What I found really interesting is that the investment Facebook makes into its people doesn’t end here. The culture at Facebook is to work as and when you want to work. Employees don’t have set hours, they instead are tasked with work to do and are sent away to do it. Facebook doesn’t care when the work is done as long as it is.

Measuring Performance

Performance at Facebook is measured in terms of impact; as long as you as an employee are having impact on the organisation and are getting through the work that has been assigned to you everyone is happy.

The other really cool idea is that if something doesn’t work, or makes people miserable they change it. A great example: In the early days of Facebook code used to get pushed on a Tuesday evening so often engineers would work into the night. As a result people always felt sluggish and unmotivated on a Wednesday and didn’t want to focus on meetings. To address this, all meetings were cancelled on Wednesdays, and the day is now known as “No Meeting Wednesday”.

The model portrayed above is a scary thought. The idea of saying to your staff work when, where and how you want, just get the job done, is a great idea but conventional wisdom would say that it shouldn’t work. I mean, if people don’t have to work why would they choose to?

The fascinating thing is that not only does it work at Facebook, it clearly works brilliantly! Everyone I spoke to seems to have a common purpose, working towards the same goal; all part of the same team working towards the same end-point. This is a culture that I really believe most companies can only dream of creating.

Having toured Facebook there are ideas that I now put into practice within my own working environment; in some ways having seen it work at Facebook it feels like some of the ideas they have about working practice is common sense.

Working the Hours Required to Do the Job

One thing that really interests me (and also massively scares me) is the idea of letting staff work the hours required to do the job. Facebook would argue that there is no point being at work 40 hours a week if you can do the same work in 10 hours and also do it better with greater impact because you are well rested and motivated.

Over recent months we have all adapted to working from home. I read an interesting article recently which argued that some people are Night Owls and shouldn’t be shamed for preferring to work at night. 100 years ago scientific management was the conventional wisdom — today as a society we recognise collaboration and working together as a team is much more effective. Perhaps we need to challenge the conventional wisdom that in order to be productive we need to work in a 9–5 routine 5 days a week.

In recent years there has been a lot of discussion about the merits of a 4 day work week. Experiments around the world have repeatedly proven that it is possible to get the same amount of work done in 4 days if the individuals are motivated to do so. If it is possible to achieve the same or better impact in a shorter period of time why wouldn’t we embrace this ideal allowing our employees to spend more time doing what they enjoy.

What changes can you make within your own organisation?

If you are reading this, I challenge you to look at working practices within your own organisation. Is it more important to you for your staff to have impact or for your staff to be online for 40+ hours a week? If you conclude as I have that impact is most important why not ask your staff what would make life better. If they say working less do you have the guts to say “Ok, work when you want to work; just get the job done”? Even if you think that’s to extreme for your organisation, I wonder what other changes you could make which would make your staff happier and allow them to have more impact?

If you have ideas about how you can improve the impact of your employees please reach out to me on twitter @stevewestgarth



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Steve Westgarth

Steve 🏳️‍🌈 is the Global Head of Engineering at GSK Consumer Healthcare where he heads up the Software Engineering function.