Going ROWE, Part 3: Rollout to the Staff


ROWE logo


In this blog series, Fine Point Consulting staff discuss the process, rewards, and challenges of becoming a certified Results-Only Work Environment, an HR management strategy wherein employees are paid for results, rather than the number of hours worked. Certification is expected to be complete sometime this summer (2015). 

This week: initial reactions to ROWE from Fine Point staff, including comments from Chelsea Stanton and Gail Pawlak, and how their opinions about it have or have not changed during training and discussion over the past couple of months.

Once the senior staff agreed that we should take the next steps to becoming a Results-Only Work Environment, it was time to introduce the idea to the full staff. Leah and I did that during one of our weekly staff meetings, presenting the information we had received from the conference, as well as our own personal thoughts about how it might work for Fine Point.

Shortly thereafter, I sent out a Tiny Pulse survey (one of my favorite tools!) to staff to gauge how they were feeling about becoming a ROWE. The anonymous responses were varied. Here’s a sample of what staff had to say:

  • I have mixed feelings about ROWE as of right now. Theoretically speaking, it sounds fantastic. It’s when it gets put into practice that I’m a little worried about. I have a feeling I’ll feel guilty for not doing “work” things for normal business hours. Or that I’ll feel inclined to be more available during more parts of the day. I’ve never had to mesh work-life and personal-life. It’s always been one or the other, not both intertwined.
  • I am thinking ROWE is going to be awesome. I am thinking that this works perfectly with our work ethic and should make things roll much smoother and efficiently.
  • It might take me awhile to get used to the concept. It seems as though some teams are already working the ROWE way, so I’m not clear on when this is all going to really start. Perhaps it’s already in place. I think we need more clarification on workload and the ultimate result.
  • I think it sounds great. I agree that as long as you are achieving your results and making your clients happy you should have the freedom to have a flexible schedule to deal with other things in your life.

The ROWE certification process involves reading Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It: The Results-Only Revolution, written by the creators of ROWE, completing a series of exercises along with each chapter, and then taking a test at the end of the training program to make sure we all understand how it works. As we continue through these exercises, staff who had initial concerns about ROWE seem to become more comfortable with the idea, and those who were enthusiastic with the idea from the beginning only get more excited.

“I’ve been a ROWE supporter since it was introduced to us,” says Fine Point’s Chelsea Stanton. “I don’t think the number of hours you’re at work matter as much as getting your work done. That’s what matters.

“The training exercises have been great. During this time I had my tonsils removed and was working from home while I recovered, so I had a first-hand experience with how the ROWE would work. It just reinforced to me that you don’t necessarily have to be in the office to work and be effective.”

Staff member Gail Pawlak says she was a little uncertain about ROWE when it was initially introduced. “Staying in communication with your team is the big issue. I’m a little older than the rest of the staff and had some initial concerns about the ROWE and how it would work. I even had a dream where I was at a water park with my family during a work day and received an urgent call from a client. For some reason I couldn’t find anyone in the office to help the client and I was freaking out! It was really more of a nightmare for me—the idea that I wasn’t serving our clients.”

“I’m feeling much more comfortable with the idea of the ROWE now that we’ve gone through the training and talked about our concerns,” Gail adds. “I have a 45-minute commute to work, so I definitely see, for example, how on days when the weather is bad I could be more productive while working from home.”

One theme that has come up a few times with staff is how the ROWE might affect our work culture. We’re a tight-knit group that genuinely likes seeing one another and working together (how lucky are we?!), and we’d like to keep it that way.

“We still plan on getting together as a group and participating in some fun activities,” says Gail. “Weekly staff meetings will also continue, though they will be optional, depending on the agenda. And if you’re more comfortable with working in the office every day from 9-5, there’s no reason you can’t continue to do that.”


Stay tuned for future posts on the ROWE rollout, and be sure to visit Fine Point Consulting for a complete list of the tools and services we use to help businesses succeed.


4 Ways Wisconsin Startups Can Strengthen The Hiring Process

As a small business or startup owner, it’s easy to lose track of how your employees are feeling with their jobs when there are countless other tasks to handle everyday. Losing morale inside the company can be devastating when it results less productivity and high turnover––two things no business ever wants.

When it comes to hiring new recruits and supporting the team that holds your business up, there are a few things that are commonly overlooked but very necessary if you intend on keeping talent for the long haul.

 1. Start valuing quality over quantity when it comes to your staff 

For small businesses and startups just getting off the ground, one of the most common problems is a budget so thin only the cheapest hires seem feasible. In reality, while payroll is certainly an immediate expense, paying more to get more usually turns into an investment later down the road.

Instead of looking at your one-year plan––find the right candidate that fits your 3 to 5 year plan and hire with that budget in mind. If you plan to reach 10 employees the cheapest way possible, try readjusting for 7 or 8 exceptional ones prepared to do the work.

 2. Be sure you need to hire someone new in the first place 

These days, training can be pretty cheap compared to a new hire with the variety of online educational tools at an employer’s disposal. Instead of immediately assuming a new task requires a whole new person on the team, look internally to see if those skills don’t already exist either with a current team member or throughout a team.

Instead of costs, think value––working to constantly grow your employees to evolve with the business is always more advantageous than having to churn through new people when your business makes a turn. Leverage the power of training and education to grow a trusted, long-term team.

 3. Don’t trap yourself in the present when hiring new team members

While employment history and experience is certainly a serious consideration to take in to account when considering a new hire, keep in mind resumes are more about the past than the future. By only looking at what’s on the paper, you’ve essentially hired their experience rather than who they’ll become as your employee.

Switch the focus during the hiring process to center around not what that person has done in the past, but specifically, what they’re capable of doing for your company in the future.

4. If recognition isn’t your strong point, start identifying your best talent

Creating expectations for future hires isn’t always the most realistic way to go about creating the best criteria to judge new candidates with. A better way is to look inside your team and identify who is making the biggest contributions––what characteristics allow them to do so?

Learn who your star team members are, and from that, build your ideal employee around traits that people truly possess the next time you need to reach out and add to your team.

If you have questions or are looking for human resources services, our outsourced accounting and CFO services experts can help.  

Photo credit: Startup Photos


3 Tips For Managing Remote Workers Effectively

As new technology drives communication tools to new heights, the idea that your business should be confined only to an office space is quickly becoming obsolete. Today, organizations big and small, new and old, are all taking advantage of global connectedness by hiring employees in other cities, countries and continents.

While remote workers can be a great benefit for small businesses looking to eliminate the need for dedicated offices, or reach out to qualified professionals unable to move to a home base of operations, distance can pose a challenge for managers when it comes to engaging with people they can’t interact with in person. (more…)

How to Give Effective Employee Feedback

Company-to-employee feedback comes in many forms, but the most common and direct way to communicate performance evaluations comes in the form of criticism. Although today this term has come to connote a negative message, I’m using it in its broader definition, which encompasses both negative and positive responses.

Where the nuance of criticism gets muddy is in its conceptualization as a motivational tool. Not everyone receives criticism the same way and these days it doesn’t take much to actually offend peoples’ sensibilities if you handle feedback without a certain degree of tact.

Being honest and blunt is one thing, but it’s easy for employers to cross into malicious territory simply through choices of syntax and delivery. (more…)

IRS Says Yes! You Can Pay Someone As An Employee And A Contractor!

Much to the delight of both financial management firms and their clients alike, a major limitation that barred workers from serving as both employees and independent contractors within the same organization simultaneously has been lifted.

Thanks to an official inquiry submitted to the IRS concerning the possibility for someone to collect income both on company payroll as well as through accounts payable for work done elsewhere in the company, the agency has issued a ruling stating that given certain criteria are met, this practice is acceptable.

Ruling remains a case-to-case affair

Although the ruling could have major implications for those attempting to work in multiple departments within their company, it is by no means broad in its practical scope. The IRS will still look closely at the specific nature of each position and make judgments accordingly. (more…)