Posted tagged ‘flexible’

When flexibility is not a good thing

May 4, 2011

Can you be too flexible?

Thomas Jefferson once said “In matters of principle, stand firm; in matters of style and taste, swim with the current.”  This is something I’ve recently begun to grapple with and something which I’ve noted many others around me also working on in recent weeks.  This is especially true as the financial pressures mount, and older, more experienced staff leave to be replaced by young, less experienced but sharp and keen staff who’s careers are more before than behind them.

Regular readers of this blog will know that some of our writing team (or ‘crew’ as we have also recently been described) have begun to explore this wild waters of middle management.  Stepping up into such a world puts you in strange places.  No longer are you a minion, making the thoughts and ideas of your managers a reality no matter how random, neither are you in a position whereby your whims are other’s commands.

The beauty of local government of course is that being in this position has little if anything to do with how much you earn.  We all know examples of those paid exorbitant stipends with little authority or work scope, whilst others on a pittance seem to be the spider at the heart of the web, with influence far outweighing their hierarchical position and the ability to really shape their part of local government. (more…)

Clocking off from clocking in

February 17, 2011

Time for a change of approach?

I had a chat with my boss the other day.  It revolved around the amount of time I was working and my penchant for keeping a track of this by completing a timesheet every day.  This timesheet was a simple excel spreadsheet which tracked the numbers of hours I’d worked each month as I filled out my starting, finishing and lunch times.  Being a responsible sort I’ve got these dating back to my first week at the Council, and can pick out everything from long lunches to 72 hour weeks (rare but draining).

The chat with my boss wasn’t about seeing mine however; she told me to stop completing them.  Apparently I’ve now reached a level where the exact number of hours I work is far less relevant than the actual work I complete; effectively, I’m judged on outcomes not hours.

Since this chat I’ve stopped filling in those little boxes and noticed something: I’ve been doing slightly longer hours and feeling better about doing so.  Whereas before I would try my damnedest to stick to my 37.5 hour working week, maybe adjusting my start or leaving time by 15 minutes or so and clock watching as either rolled around, now I find myself arriving at and leaving the office when I’m happy with my days work.  And I feel better for this.

I get the distinct impression that I’m not alone here.  I have in all but writing been running my own team like this for some time, asking them to do their weeks work whether it takes them 30 hours or 45.  The relaxing of monitoring them and having them stick to strict times for starting and finishing has made them a more flexible and responsive team, happy to work longer when needed safe in the knowledge that this will come round to reward them when times aren’t quite so busy, or when they have personal appointments to be kept.

To put it simply, I trusted my staff.  I trusted them to understand the work they were being asked to do and to get it done, and I trusted them to be responsible about their working hours. (more…)