How to Focus on Outcomes, Not Inputs

Two people exchanging a high five in a virtual meeting, Frankli performance management and engagement software

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Before the Covid-19 pandemic, we had different ideas about what it meant to keep people focused on results. The vast majority of us commuted across cities and towns to our place of work. We'd show up at “the office”, clock in our hours and at the end of day, make the same trek back across town, home.

Yes, there were benefits to having face time with colleagues, but, more often than not, the office proved to be the worst place to get work done. 

Working in the Office: The Downsides

  • Between chit chat and the persistent din of ringing phones, offices can be full of distractions.
  • When your colleagues are sitting a couple of feet away from you, it’s common to get sucked into impromptu catch-ups with no agenda, rather than structured meetings. 
  • Office environments cause stress and anxiety for many (1), and stressed workers are less productive (2).
  • Research shows that long commutes can ruin people’s enjoyment of their job and personal lives (3).
  • Commutes of any length usually mean less time with the people closest to us.
  • The most common forms of commute costs us money and harms the planet (4).
  • The alternatives (working from home, hybrid work) have proven to bring about increases in productivity (5). 

Being forced into remote work during the pandemic taught us many things. For me, the biggest lesson is this; 

Work is something your people do, not a place they go.

Before, during and in the current phase of the pandemic, people have proved that they can adapt to working remotely and still be as productive or in a lot of cases, more productive (5). And let’s not forget that the majority of the data on this was gathered during the pandemic, when an unplanned global experiment required workers to navigate far-from-ideal remote working conditions.

As leaders, we need to react by changing our mindset. We need to shift from measuring inputs such as hours logged at a desk, to instead focusing on outcomes.

How to Keep People focused on Results: 4 Tips

1. Trust your people.

Traditional management techniques assumed that leaders knew how to get the best out of their people. But everyone has a different way of working, and employees - as the people actually doing the work - know best what they need to get the job done. The lesson here is simple; remove excessive check-ins, micromanaging and any other processes that require people to shift focus away from their work unnecessarily.

2. Be flexible.

A flexible attitude towards the location of work and working hours can help you attract and retain the right people. It also gives your people the chance to create the kind of environment they need in order to do their best work.

3. Create a framework for goal-setting.

To effectively measure outcomes, we need to be clear about expectations and communicate these effectively and regularly. The OKR framework is the gold standard for this. Everyone should have objectives and key results, which all feed into team and company goals. Digitising this process through Frankli makes it easy for everyone to stay focused on outcomes, and for leaders to measure progress.

4. Create a framework for feedback.

We also need to sharpen the pencil on how we feed back on the quality of work outcomes. Feedback should always be about what people achieve, not where they are or how many hours they’ve logged. Frankli’s Feedback feature creates an intuitive channel for feedback, while the 1:1 Meetings feature automates the scheduling and structuring of catch-ups about performance, so there’s no chance outcomes will get left out of the conversation.

Having made the shift to a remote-first culture, the team at Frankli are way more intentional about how we work. We're more focused as a team, we achieve more consistent levels of productivity and our people are more engaged.

Since the epic gear change in 2020, workers everywhere have had a chance to rewire, and their priorities are much more about flexibility, trust and purposeful work. They want the freedom to focus on results, without the constraints of having to perform the traditional role of “hard worker” through spotless attendance records and long working hours.

As we continue to adjust to this new world of work, I find it hard to believe that we could rebound back to our pre-pandemic habits and beliefs. As the global workforce shifts its perspective on work, it’s time for we as leaders to shift our strategies along with it. 

Frankli helps companies all over the world align their people on outcomes and measure the results. Find out more here.

60-Second Version: How to Focus on Outcomes, Not Inputs

Introduction: Being forced into remote work during the pandemic taught us a valuable lesson - work is something your people do, not a place they go. As leaders, we need to shift from measuring inputs such as hours logged at a desk, to instead focusing on outcomes. Here’s how:

How to Keep People Focused on Results: 4 Tips

1. Trust your people. 

Your people know best what they need to get the job done. Remove excessive check-ins, micromanaging and any other processes that require them to shift focus away from their work unnecessarily.

2. Be flexible. 

A flexible attitude towards the location of work and working hours can help you attract and retain the right people. It also gives your people the chance to create the kind of environment they need in order to do their best work.

3. Create a framework for goal-setting. 

The OKR framework is the gold standard for this. Everyone should have objectives and key results, which all feed into team and company goals. Digitising this process through Frankli makes it easy for everyone to stay focused on outcomes, and for leaders to measure progress.

4. Create a framework for feedback. 

How we feed back on the quality of work outcomes is important, too - we need to focus on what people achieve, not where they are or how many hours they’ve logged. Frankli's Feedback feature creates an intuitive channel for feedback, while the 1:1 Meetings feature automates the scheduling and structuring of catch-ups, so performance never gets left out of the conversation.

Frankli helps companies all over the world align their people on outcomes and measure the results. Find out more here.

1. Akiyoshi Shimura, Katsunori Yokoi, Yoshiki Ishibashi, Yusaku Akatsuka and Takeshi Inoue, Remote Work Decreases Psychological and Physical Stress Responses, but Full-Remote Work Increases Presenteeism. 2. Tina Bui, Rosey Zackula, Katelyn Dugan and Elizabeth Ablah, Workplace Stress and Productivity: A Cross-Sectional Study. 3. Alois Stutzer and Bruno S. Frey, Stress that Doesn’t Pay: The Commuting Paradox. 4. BBC, How our daily travel harms the planet. 5. Nicholas Bloom, James Liang, John Roberts and Zhichun Jenny Ying, Does Working From Home Work? Evidence From A Chinese Experiment*

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