Busyness over business

This week my guest at the Performance Cafe is Employee Experience Specialist Andy Golding. During our chat, Andy mentioned the book Atomic Habits by James Clear, and a principle he shares around Motion vs Action. The concept is that while the two words are sometimes used interchangeably they indicate two very different activities. Motion is about the start of something, for example when we plan, strategize or learn about something. An example from the book is talking to a personal trainer about an exercise regime. Action, in contrast, is about executing those plans. To carry the example above, actually signing up and starting training is then the Action. Clear goes on to say that Motion by itself does not produce an Action but that it is needed in order to create the basis for Action. However only Action can create an outcome.

In a related article (please see the reference below) Clear writes “When preparation becomes a form of procrastination, you need to change something. You don’t want to merely be planning. You want to be practicing.”

And here I want to drag out my soapbox on a familiar topic that I feel speaks to the same logic and is so pertinent in the remote work and WFH age we find ourselves in. That is the concept of task management over outcome management and how managers feel the need to have employees in the office for 8 hours a day in order to prove that they are actually working. Firstly, and here Andy would back me up, where is the trust in that? Secondly, this leads to micromanagement where employees complete tasks (Motion), to satisfy the manager, but do not necessarily achieve outcomes (Action).

Outcome-based management not only is more empowering to employees, it is also a lot less time consuming for managers. If team members can be managed by the outcomes they achieve, where they work, or how they get this done is immaterial. The only requirement is that they provide work to the organizational standard.

To check if outcomes-based management is happening in your business ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do my team members have a high level of activity and great performance?
2. Do I talk to them about outcomes and not tasks
3. Do I know them as individuals and understand how they prefer to work?
4. Do I understand how they collaborate as a team to get things done?
5. Do I know what obstacles they tend to come across in getting their work done?

If you have answered no to any of these then you may be micromanaging for Motion instead of managing for Action. This is what creates busyness instead of business. As a manager you can decide which of these will provide you with the best results, and also as an aside, improve the Employee Experience in your organization.

Here’s to more Action in the last few weeks of 2020 so we can set ourselves up for a great 2021.

This week my guest at the @Performance Cafe is Andy Golding from Still Human. As an Employee Experience Specialist her message is that work should not suck, and I back her 100 percent. Think about it, 8 hours is a third of a day. Therefore if someone goes their entire working life without enjoying their work they have wasted, and been in distress, for a third of their working lives. Work stress and burnout lead to many ravages if our society such as alcohol and drug addictions, broken and neglectful relationships, chemical imbalances including depression and anxiety disorders. This means that work-related stress is not only bad for a single employee but also for their family, friends, and the community around them. This also bleeds into their work performance, in the long run, therefore unhappy employees are bad for business, no matter how you look at it.


The Mistake Smart People Make: Being In Motion vs. Taking Action