It’s Time to Eliminate Employee Schedules

It’s Time to Eliminate Employee Schedules

Here are two conversations that I have had recently. The first was with my youngest son, Carter, earlier in the summer.

“Dad, I love my new job.”

“That’s great Carter. What are you doing?”

“The job is with a financial services company, and I have an administrative project that I am working on. My job is to work my way through a room full of loan packages, keeping some documents and throwing away others.”

“Why is this such a great job?” I asked my son.

“I love this job because of the flexibility. I can create my own schedule. My favorite hours are from midnight until around 5:00 am. I get a lot of work done with minimal distractions. The best part is that I then have the rest of the day to do what I want. It’s great!” he responded.

The second conversation was most recently with one of my clients.

“Bill, you look frustrated. What wrong?” I asked.

Bill responded, “I need to fire one of my directors.”

“What’s the issue? Poor performance?” I asked.

“No. His performance is fine,” Bill said. “The problem is that this director is unable to get to work on time. Our office opens at 8:00 am, and he is never here on time. He does work late and sometimes on weekends. If he can’t get here on time it’s an issue, and I must address it now. We have an office schedule and he must comply with that schedule.”

“Bill, would you rather manage employee compliance or job performance?” I asked.

“We are all about job performance,” Bill responded. “His job performance is stellar. Now if I could just get him to show up for work on time.”

Do either one of these conversations sound familiar to you?

I find many small business owners wish they were having the first conversation and find themselves instead having the second one.

Why is this?

Primarily because it’s the way it’s always been. We have always had employee schedules. Right?

Not necessarily. I did an informal survey of my Vistage members and consulting clients and could not find a single one that worked on a fixed schedule. Not one. They all start working when they are ready in the morning and keep working until they are done at night.

Yet almost all of their employees are on a fixed schedule. Why is this? I believe it comes down to one word… trust.

We don’t trust our employees to perform on their own so we establish work schedules to insure some level of minimum job performance. And what do we get in return? Some level of minimum job performance. What a surprise…

So here’s my suggestion. Dump the employee work schedule. Forget about managing their hours. That’s compliance. Instead, shift your attention to their work performance. If they can do the job in 50% of the time, great!

Research indicates that the average American worker actually works for slightly over two hours per day on an eight-hour shift. What are they doing the rest of the time? Clearly there are more important things such as checking social media, Internet shopping, and maybe playing games. So what do we do? Most companies will work very hard to prevent such delinquent behavior. Force their employees to work. How does that work? Not well.

What if instead we just focus on job performance? We become very clear with our employees what results we need from them and then let them set their own schedules. Just like we do for ourselves.

I shared this suggestion with one of my clients and his first response was:

“That would mean I would need to be very careful who I hire. I could only hire people with strong work ethics who I could trust to make their own schedules.”

My response? “Yes!”

Wouldn’t that be a terrible thing… we would only hire high-performing trustworthy employees.

I think it’s time to dump the employee schedule. Are you ready?

Dave Isay: Everyone Around You Has a Story the World Needs to Hear

From the first interview he recorded, 2015 TED Prize winner and MacArthur Fellow Dave Isay knew he’d found his calling: preserving the stories of everyday Americans. Since then, Isay has amassed hundreds of thousands of recordings, most of previously unheard or ignored voices, all speaking in their own words. The archives of StoryCorps — which Isay founded in 2003 — are included at the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center, and now constitute the largest single collection of recorded voices in history.


“Rocket Fuel”, written by Gino Wickman & Mark Winters

I love working with growing companies. One of the most interesting dynamics in working with growth companies is when their growth either stalls or completely stops. What happened? There are a number of common causes for stalled growth but the most prominent is that the owner/founder of the business is unwilling or unable to let go of at least a portion of his/her responsibilities. I like to call this a failure to delegate.

Gino Wickman is the author of one of my favorite books, “Traction”. His most recent book “Rocket Fuel”, describes in great detail why the owner of the business who is usually also the “visionary” in the business needs to hire a strong #2 who than takes on the role of “integrator” in the business. Why is this such an important decision? Primarily because up to this point the owner has had no one else to delegate to that could be trusted to perform at an acceptable level.

In the book, Wickman provides a great model for freeing up the “visionary” in the business to do what they do best, including coming up with new ideas for the business. The “integrator” is then responsible for making those ideas a reality. There are great examples of such tandems at Disney, McDonald’s, Ford, Microsoft, and many more very successful companies.

The book includes a number of very helpful tools for describing the two unique roles, finding the right person for each role, as well as a very clear prescription for how the two roles must work together.

If you are the “visionary” in your business and you do not have a great “integrator”, this book is a must read.


Two police officers responding to a domestic disturbance with shots fired, and quickly arrive on scene.

After discovering the wife had shot her husband for walking across her freshly mopped floor, they call their sergeant on his cell phone.

“Hello Sarge.”


“It looks like we have a homicide here.”

“What happened?”

“A woman has shot her husband for walking on the floor she had just mopped.”

“Have you placed her under arrest?”

“No sir. The floor is still wet.”