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THE INC. LIFE

Beware of Companies That Overvalue This 1 Thing

Companies who focus on an employees inputs rather than their outputs often have unhealthy cultures, here are three reasons why.

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BY Robert Glazer - 10 Jul 2018

Beware of Companies That Overvalue This 1 Thing

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

If you're in the market for a new job and think you've found the one, the first thing you should do before signing any paperwork is investigate that company's culture.

Specifically, try to determine whether the company in question values inputs more than outputs. In other words, does management care more about face time and time cards than the outcomes employees produce?

More often than not, such companies have very unhealthy cultures. Here's why.

Micromanaged employees are unhappy and burn out fast.

Bosses who prioritize input over output almost always end up micromanaging their employees--

because how else can they make sure workers are sitting at their desks at certain times, or following some set of non-negotiable rules. Any manager enlisted in such an effort has to rule with an iron fist.

Yet, I don't know anyone who enjoys being under the thumb of his boss or who performs best with that kind of supervision. It's demoralizing and exhausting to work with someone always looking over your shoulder.

In the long run, this kind of culture creates an unhappy workforce and that, in turn, can spell doom for a business.

I remember a time when my team and I at Acceleration Partners worked with a company that was run this way. We first met the management team over breakfast at a conference and someone explained that every employee there was required to punch in upon arrival and punch out before leaving. Anyone who was late at any time risked disciplinary action--no matter how effective the person was at his job.

As we interacted more with this company, it became clear that the employees working under this tough regime were miserable; in fact, two quit within just a few months. Before long, we decided to end our relationship with this business because its culture fundamentally conflicted with AP's core values.

A narrow focus on input hurts productivity.

Early in my career, I worked for a boss who valued the appearance of being productive over productivity itself. At some point, it became clear that he wasn't satisfied with my hours in the office, even though the company had promised flexibility in exchange for below market pay. So, one week, I decided to conduct an experiment. I came to work an hour earlier and played computer games at my desk and his level of satisfaction skyrocketed.

That's when I knew it was time to leave, and it's one reason why we designed Acceleration Partners (AP) to value outcomes and results over inputs and the appearance of being busy.

Over time, I've discovered that companies that prioritize small-potatoes concerns also prove less productive--and thus less successful. A company that measures hours will get hours, but a company that measures outcomes will get outcomes.

So, what happened to that company whose team we met that morning at breakfast? Their stock is now down 50 percent--even while the overall market is hitting record highs.

Remember what the educator and author Peter Drucker once said: "There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all."

When we launched AP, we kept this idea at the front of our minds. In fact, one of the core guiding principles we wrote to inform our operations was this:

"Excellence is about knowing what to do and what not to do, and finding the 80/20. We are measured by our results and our outcomes (our performance), not our inputs or time. Urgent and important are not always the same, and we strive to know the difference and remain focused on outcomes."

Look for a company that encourages you to work smart, not hard.

At the end of the day, a boss who focuses on hours, inputs, and appearances really only cares about one thing: exerting control.

This is a dying management philosophy and the opposite of what today's leading companies are doing. What creates happy and productive employees--not to mention successful companies--are clear goals, creative freedom, and accountability.

This strategy is exemplified by Netflix, one of the top performing companies in the world. At Netflix, goals and responsibilities are set high and made clear. As long as those goals are achieved, and responsibilities are fulfilled, employees are free to work any way they want.

Today's great CEOs share this philosophy. So, to find a workplace with a great culture, look for a company with leaders who know how to set a high bar and hold people accountable without clocking hours.

And if you are still working for a company that prioritizes time at your desk above all else, it might be time to punch out for good.

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