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Implementing Results with Jody Thompson (part 2)

Luke Szyrmer October 20, 2020 47 1

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Starting from where you are, it might feel like a big change to move towards a results only work environment. Tune in to this episode for useful tips on how to start shifting towards a results only environment, including first steps you can take in that direction.

About Jody Thompson

 Jody Thompson is the Founding Principal of CultureRx®, headquartered in Minneapolis, MN. Thompson is an engaging domestic and international keynote presenter on the future workplace and has been featured on the covers of BusinessWeek, Workforce Management Magazine, HR Magazine, and HR Executive Magazine, as well as in the New York Times, TIME Magazine, USA Today, and on Good Morning America, CNBC, MSNBC and CNN. She has coauthored two best-selling books on the modern workplace and contemporary management principles, Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It and Why Managing Sucks and How to Fix It.

Jody works with select organizations to bring them to a state of sustainable high performance. For the past 14 years she has personally facilitated the change management communication and training process in organizations across multiple industries with a variety of roles, including retail, manufacturing, government, professional services, and education in both the private and public sectors. Her clients consistently see increases in productivity, employee engagement, client satisfaction, and the ability to attract the best talent from all generations.

Visit https://www.gorowe.com to get in touch with Jody. 


It becomes a really interesting tool to begin work negotiation. Mm hmm. So if you can’t get it to be Minthorn, you negotiate back with me. Yeah. You know, I could get a two by three to start work. You know what? Three o’clock would work or. No, I could, but two o’clock would work. So the conversations about the work not are you leaving early on Friday? That’s an irrelevant question. I don’t know if I’m leaving early because I don’t know what you need.

You are listening to the online remotely podcast, the show dedicated to helping newly distributed teams under difficult circumstances. I am the host, Luke Shurmur, and I’ve participated in or distributed teams for almost a decade as a practitioner. I’m speaking with experts, leadership, strategic alignment work to help you navigate the issues you start facing after you get your sword.

Welcome back. This episode, we dig into the practicalities of implementing a results only work environment. What that might mean for things like status meetings, for things like project timelines and specific things you could start trying to do before even necessarily going and engaging on a larger scale. That being said, there’s a lot coming up.

So let’s just dig in one of the things that I really like and why managing such a great title, by the way, was this idea of the go for meeting, not as a good thing, but as a as an exemplar of what shouldn’t happen?

This is one of the things that certain managers may be used to in an office environment where you just poke your head up and yell at whoever to give you an answer about something.

How have meetings changed as everything has moved online for your clients or and then your company and your experience?

What does being a results only work environment give you in the context of meetings? So that’s a great question.

People are exhausted from all the meetings and they’re talking about how am I going to Mansome meetings all day now? No more than before when they were in the office, they were at meeting, in meetings all day long to all right. But it just it felt different, but it’s still the same activity. Hmm. What’s happening is because people need to fill their time and they’re not clear about what they’re supposed to be doing. They have a lot of meetings and a meeting is just an activity.

And if it’s not the right activity for me to get my work done, then I’m wasting my time. So what happens with meetings and a results only work environment if they are reduced by 50 percent or more? Mm hmm. Because people ask themselves, what is the outcome of this meeting and is this the right way to get the work done? And all by the way, who are the right people? What is their role and how can they get prepared for this meeting so we can be efficient?

Right now, people throw meetings on the calendar and you don’t even know what they’re about now. And so you waste your time. So we would ask people of all the meetings you’re in all week, how much of that time, what percentage of your time do you feel is wasted? And they tell us 30 to 90 percent of their time is wasted in unproductive meetings. So in the real mindset, when you own all of your time and you’re clear about the work and the measures of the work, you don’t put a meeting on anybody’s calendar that’s going to waste their time.

Hmm. Because time is a commodity tool. You don’t want to waste your own time and you don’t want to waste other people’s time now. So the meeting becomes very clear. The meeting organizer sends out a meeting invite. And if the people think it might be a waste of their time, they say it is. I see you sent out this meeting. I see you want to talk about X Y see in the project. How about if you go out on Microsoft meetings and see what we’ve done and let us know if you have any questions.

So it’s not just put meetings on calendars and show up or do reoccurring meetings every week. I need to know if my team is doing their job. I better do an our staff meeting every week.

That just fills time. Just fill time. So the meeting, that idea of meetings on the meeting culture is everywhere in the world and it looks like work. Mm hmm. But it really is wasting time. I went from having triple booked meetings all day on my calendar. I’m back in two thousand and four till today. I have about five in a whole week because people don’t schedule meetings with me that aren’t going anywhere. So I don’t want to meetings like that.

So, you know, when you have an entire culture of people wanting to really move work forward and not waste anybody’s time meeting, start dropping off the calendar, the ones that everybody knows is just a waste of time. Let’s get rid of them. But that’s when you’re outside the Matrix, Slok. Mm hmm. If you’re trying to solve it inside The Matrix, it’s going to continue to become what it’s always been. It’s just going to not move forward.

It’s what am I supposed to do with myself all day if I’m not in meetings?

Yeah. One of the common uses of.

Eatings is status, knowing what’s going on. How is that done? This is the question. What happens if it’s not?

The status is interesting when you’re not sure about what the work is you want a status about. Is anything happening because you’re uncomfortable? But in a results only work environment or results, coach would say to the employee, how would you like to keep me updated on your status? How would you like, keep me updated? One person might go. It’s really helpful for me to hop on a 15 minute call with you or a zone as needed. Now, every week, twice a week.

And the results culture. OK, that sounds good. Another person might say, I have everything updated for you out in Microsoft teams or whatever program you’re using for collaboration. If you have any questions for me when you’re reviewing that, let me know. Some people might say I’ll send you a one page up status update sheet. Let me know if you have any questions after you get it. So it’s it’s not defaulting to making every single person have a thirty minute one on one every week with waste people’s time.

That’s not what I need. Now, I have to go into this meeting with my manager and try to figure out how to fill it. What should I talk about? What should I talk about? My manager is already clear about my work. I’m getting results. Everybody can see it. The team is working great together. Why am I wasting time in a status update? Hmm. It’s really it’s quite a brain shift and a mind shift to be in an environment where you don’t have to look busy or you don’t have to play pretend games anymore and you actually feel like an adult and the people around you all have your back and you have theirs and you’re not competing for the wrong things.

You’re actually competing for the customer together.

I just realized that I think a lot of the anxiety around the need for status updates is around just really long time frames, long deadlines, much further ahead. If you estimate you’ll be done in a year, you’ve got a lot of people look even boil it down to a financial risk the company’s taking. How do you calm people down? That work is happening?

I don’t know.

Maybe it’s a bit of a tough question, but what do you think? I think it’s funny because we are under an illusion that people are working. That’s why we’re uncomfortable, because we really don’t know. We don’t trust necessarily that if we put a year deadline out there that we’re really going to get there. And the reason is because the way the culture operates is we don’t recognize people hitting deadlines when they’re supposed to hit deadlines. What we do instead is we’re constantly managing excuses for not performing mean when an entire organization is results only work environment.

And they say to the team, when do you think we can deliver this product? When do you think we can deliver it? And the team says December 14th and the results coach goes, OK, so everybody agrees that’s when we can hit it. Yep, we can do it then. It’s backwards planning. So I know the date I have to hit and now I look at all the activities that have to happen and we all know it’s a team that any time anybody misses something, then the deadline is at risk.

The ultimate deadline. And by the way, we’re actually held accountable to the work. And so if we don’t do our job that we said we were going to do and we didn’t tell anybody and we just let the deadlines blow by, you don’t fit in the team anymore because that’s not the culture anymore. The culture isn’t one of excuses. The culture is one of we know what the date we have to hit. We know the pieces now that have to get done to get there.

And if something’s going to fall apart or talking to each other before it happens, we’re not just saying I forgot to tell you, I have to take my dog to the vet.

That’s just some final results.

Only work if people are happier because they feel like they’re accomplishing something and they feel, again, like people have their back and everybody’s communicating about the work. And so things get done like they’re supposed to know.

The manager is in the same culture and the same mindset, there’s a difference. They start trusting their team because they see the team is competent, they’re hitting deadlines. They’re not coming back with excuses. If a deadline is going to be missed, somebody is going to that results coach and say, you know what, we’ve got a risk on a deadline, but here’s how we’re going to handle it. They’d all just throw up their hands and say, oh, we didn’t make it.

It’s hard to imagine a culture like this.

Maybe this will sound like a difficult for to work here with software because everything is always only done once. By definition, you can estimate, but you’re always going to be uncertain of the estimate and therefore the agreed deadline, because you might realize there’s actually a much easier way of doing something as you’re doing it. Or you realize there’s this huge other thing that you just didn’t know about when you started.

Only what you discover and then is the result of hitting the deadline. The ultimate result is the customer getting what they need. There’s always going to be contingency plans, right. If something comes in that you didn’t see, there’s always something that can happen. Yeah, but in a results only work environment, the team quickly rallies around figuring out what to do. But they do it in terms of what did we what did we promise to the customer, as we said, December 13th or whatever we said.

And then the delivery was supposed to happen the next week. How are we going to manage that? Are we going to have a customer disappoint? Is this whatever just came in that we didn’t know what’s going to happen? How does that affect the whole timeline in the project? Can we still deliver when we said we were going to? So it’s constant conversations about the work. Mm hmm. Keeping in mind what we promised and that doesn’t mean something doesn’t happen, that the deadline had to move out a week.

But it’s not because people made excuses for not hitting deadlines. It’s something came from left field that we didn’t expect. And so now we’re meeting with the results and saying, here’s what we think we can do and here’s what we decided to work on together to still hit that deadline. Do you see anything that we’re not seeing? How does that sound to you? Are we still good? Yes, you are great. We’re going to keep going. That’s great.

Reframing in terms of looking at it from the customer perspective, I think that speaks to even more of the need for short term projects.

Basically, companies are causing their own problems by having really long term service because then, yeah, it just makes it that much harder to hit deadlines because you can really know as you go, whereas if you have a whole bunch of shorter term goals that you either hit or you don’t, then it’s a lot easier to speak in terms of results if you break down something longer into chunks.

Mm. And you’ve already backwards planned and that needs to happen for the next chunk of the next chunk. What happens in big projects is the first chunk fell apart because people didn’t hit their deadlines. So now we can’t get to the second chunk and that’s for people are still trying to do the first chunk and it just gets all messed up and you never get there. Yeah. When everybody is held accountable to actually doing the work, then you get the first chunk done on time and within budget.

Great move to the next chunk. Everybody understands they have to hit their deadlines. If they don’t if they don’t think they’re going to, they start talking to each other. We have a master in work and the master is the time clock. Mm hmm. We have to flip that. The master is not the time clock. The Masters, the customer. That’s when you’re working for you’re not just working to do time and get a paycheck. You’re working actually to delight the customer.

And if you agree to that as an employee, then you have something that you need to do.

And that’s the work looping back in terms of how to keep senior people comfortable. If you reframe it as in terms of customer outcomes or implications for customers, then they don’t need as much status updates.

I think that leadership do need to be updated, but what happens over time is that they’re more clear about how the organization is performing. So it’s not just a status update just to have a status update. If if the leadership needs to be apprised of something, then they trust that the person that’s supposed to keep them apprised of whatever’s happening is doing that. And we’ll come to them. We’re all feeling anxious and stressed out because we’re not we don’t know where we’re going and we’re packing the wrong things.

And it makes us feel stressed out because life is short. And to spend your days wondering what you’re supposed to be doing, trying to juggle everything else in your life, trying to do stuff to make it look like you’re busy, that that’s just a waste of everybody’s time. In life, no, we have to move out of the industrial age thinking and we’ve taken the industrial age thinking and we’ve moved it into a knowledge economy and we wonder why we’re so stressed out because we’re not focused on the right thing in terms of small steps people could take in terms of getting started with this.

How does it typically work when people do get started?

I’m going to give you one example of something people can start doing, but I’m going to say this first. I’m moving to a culture that’s built on accountability and autonomy is not easy. And that’s why people come to culture. Our ex come to us to say, how do we do this? Because we take them through the steps. We guide them there so that people can overcome some of these old beliefs that they have about work. Everybody does. Managers, people, everybody that does work.

They overcome this together. But there’s one thing people can start doing right now, and that is when you’re when you need something from somebody, ask for exactly what you need and when you need it. And that can change a lot inside of an organization. So I’ll give you an example. Look, I need that report as soon as possible, OK?

So how do you know when I need it, when I can fit it in? Yeah, basically.

So now you don’t know when you’re going to do it and I don’t know when I’m going to get it. And the a fap thing. People are swimming in a sea of saps. Everybody’s saying when you have a minute when you can sometime next week. And so now I have to make a decision on whose thing I do first and a lot of times do it based on hierarchical thinking. Mm hmm. That’s a manager. So I better do that one first, which means the other person that needed something for me isn’t important now.

And so if you if I say to you, look, I need that report for a meeting I’m going into about our customer deadlines and I need it by noon on Monday, you know what I need and when I need it. Mm hmm. And if everybody does that, then we can plan our time better. We can’t plan our time in a sea of sap, so we don’t know how to where to focus our energy. It just all feels like overwhelming.

I don’t know where to start. What do you need and when do you need it? And then I can plan my day and my week and I can deliver because I know exactly when you need it instead of the meeting coming. And you saying I needed that report, you told me ASAP. I didn’t know I was going to get a few later today. It’s too late now. So that’s one thing that that your listeners can start doing now is really being clear.

If you send me an email and say, Jodi, get me that ASAP, I’m going to say to you, when do you need it? When exactly do you need it? That forces us all to be respectful of each other’s time and respect people by being clear about what you need and allowing them the opportunity to serve you in that way.

One thing that having that discipline of defining the time frame is, I think, useful, because obviously there’s priority which is separate from time frame potentially. But like you said, people just default to whatever they normally do, which be hierarchy could be something else. But at least you can have a discussion.

It becomes a really interesting tool to to begin work negotiation. So if you can’t get it to be my noon, you negotiate back with me. Yeah. You know, I could get a two by three to start work. You know what, three o’clock would work or. No, I could put two o’clock would work. So the conversations about the work not are you leaving early on Friday. That’s an irrelevant question. I don’t know if I’m leaving early because I don’t know what you need.


So another thing which you mentioned in the book as something before actively getting involved with you was what Ronnie wouldn’t did where that center where they talked about all of the tasks that you don’t need to do. Once they were starting to get a little bit clearer about what the details of the results were, there was a whole bunch of things they just started getting rid of, which surprised them.

Initially, the teams were a little confused why this person is telling them they don’t need to do all of these things that they normally do.

That’s an interesting way to look at things. Look in that teams just like Ronni’s teams, when they flip their mindset and realize that they don’t have to fill time with activities anymore, then they have incentive to work together to eliminate wasted activity because they don’t have to fill up their day anymore with stuff. It’s so freeing. It’s all good. I don’t have to do that wasted stuff anymore. I can spend that time on some. Or else either in my work pursuits or my life pursuits, that’s going to make me feel motivated and engaged and like I’m moving forward and I think I’m more relaxed.

And people have told us that they feel like their work and their life, like that whole thing. They’re not optimizing either. I’m not doing my best at work and I’m not doing my best at home. So I always feel stressed out. Yeah. And when you can own your time, all of it and parcel it the way you need to and be really clear about what you need to deliver and get recognized for that, the feeling of time expands.

You feel like you have more time every day when organizations and teams go through this and they start eliminating wasted effort than how they deliver for the customer is oftentimes it’s more efficient, more effective and oftentimes quicker. So we have manufacturing lines that are doing pushing our product faster now because they’re not masters to the time clock anymore and they own their work and they’re recognized for the work that they do, period.

The story hit home with me because I tried something similar in terms of just counseling of a stand up because it was it became this big bone of contention where some of the team were saying they don’t want it, they don’t want to do it. So I said, fine, let’s cancel it for two weeks and see what happens. And after two weeks, some of the people were like, we want it back. And then the other others were happy.

So it just opened up a lot of other possibilities. But I think that was roughly when the team got that.

I was serious. Like, I’m looking at what we’re what we’re actually able to achieve.

And if it takes getting rid of sacred cows, getting rid of Ascender, then that’s fine. Let’s get the work done.

And I think it’s important to ask people, why are you have that meeting? What was the real purpose of that meeting? Why are we doing it? And is there another way we can do it? Or is this the only way, you know, when people have stand up meetings or whatever those are called and they all go around the circle and they talk about what they did or what they’re doing? Yeah. Is there a better way that we can communicate that without this meeting?

And if everybody agrees? No, this is the best way to do it, the only way to do it, then do it. But I think you open up possibilities for people when you ask the question, why are we doing it and what’s the outcome of this meeting? How does this make us better? And are the right elements in the meeting to actually make us better? Or can we use that time in a better way? Ask the questions, just continue to ask the questions.

What what is the outcome and is there a better way to do it?

So moving back to culture, so that’s the service you provide and then you’ve got an online component also. Is that part of it or is that a separate thing out of curiosity? So it’s been interesting. During this time of global pandemic, we still train organizations, but everything is on a virtual platform now. So we do workshops and support people that are moving into our results. Only work environment. One of the support mechanisms is an online system. People can get more support as a result, they can learn deeper concepts about the results.

Only work environment and there’s a whole training portion. So if you bring on new hires, they have to get outside the Matrix too, so they can go through a training module to get an understanding of how the culture operates. That’s different than anything else they’ve been in before. Hmm. So that’s that’s our culture, our that’s our mission to make role, the status quo.

And one cubitt of time, we like to say so what’s the best way for people to engage with you? So we welcome people visiting our site at gorowe.com, Giel r o w e dot com. Go to our contact page and please reach out. If you’re interested in services around the results only work environment, just shoot us off an email to info at GoPro Dotcom info at GoPro Dotcom. I love Jodi’s insight around defining what you need and exactly when you need it, simply because it just respects everyone’s time and sets up a structure for people to interact.

And if needed, you can go and negotiate details. However, at least it’s not this wishy washy mess. If you like the idea of a results only work environment, you know where to go. Next time we’ll be talking more about meetings themselves to get to the bottom of how to design meetings correctly and use them as a tool to achieve what it is that you need to achieve. Thanks for listening to this episode of the online about the podcast, if you enjoy the show, please leave a review on iTunes, Google podcasts or wherever you get your podcast.

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