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Best Practices for Managing a Distributed Workforce Page 19
successes. What follows in this section is a compilation of their observations about the sources of those failures.
Lack of leadership
This one is easy, and relatively obvious. But it’s incredibly important.
Leaders at any level in the organization who give only lukewarm support (or active resistance) to distributed work programs doom them from the beginning. The resulting attitude of “We’re doing this because corporate told us to do it.” can sabotage any change program almost immediately. If leaders aren’t onboard just stop and go back to square one.
Programs being driven from only one disciplinary perspective.
For example, if IT is implementing a project without truly collaborative support from HR and Facilities Management, the effort will be probably be viewed as something to keep the “techies” fully employed, and will likely be met with resistance or, at best, with a neutral shrug. A program that lacks input from all three of these critical perspectives will not only fail to win adequate support, but its actual design will also be less than optimal.
Rushing to judgment
We are aware of one organization in which management announced on a Thursday afternoon that an entire business operation (around 2,000 employees) would “go mobile” the following Monday morning.
To no one’s surprise (at least in hindsight) the program crashed, and productivity (as measured by sales revenue in this case) fell off quickly and dramatically. The lesson learned is to phase these kinds of projects in and give the organization and its people time to understand, to adjust, and to learn the new skills, new tools, and new business processes that are central to success. And give the workplace services and technology teams enough time and budget to put the new support infrastructures in place before you get too far down the road.
Giving up too soon
The obverse of rushing to judgment is pulling the plug too quickly. Change almost inevitably creates resistance. One practitioner said, “Just give it six weeks and most of the resistance dies out and disappears. ”A thick skin and a willingness to “tough it out” through the inevitable battles and short-term productivity declines as the changes take hold are almost as important as aggressive sponsorship and a well-designed program.
© Copyright 2010 by The Work Design Collaborative, LLC. All rights reserved.
Leaders who give only lukewarm support to distributed work programs doom them from the beginning.
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