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Going ROWE: D.C. gov workers worried new mayor will end “results only work environment”

Just posted this morning, the third installment of the new Center for American Progress series, “Going ROWE,” a behind-the-scenes look at how D.C.’s information technology agency is transforming in to a “results only
work environment.”

This weekly series documents the transformation of a
government office into a workplace where employees can work where they want,
when they want—so long as they meet predefined goals.

LINK –> http://bit.ly/c0gJJt


[OCTO managers are briefed on anonymous employee focus groups that ROWE consultants from Minnesota conducted here last month.]

“One of the huge things that came through is that they are nervous that a new mayor will end ROWE,” says Stacey Swanson, with Minneapolis-based ROWE consulting firm CultureRx. Swanson’s voice is beamed
into the conference room through a speaker on the table. “They are concerned
that even if they go through the migration, a new mayor will come in and it
will be doomed,” she says. “ROWE will be gone.”

Bryan Sivak, the D.C. chief technology officer who initiated the ROWE transition, is a political appointee of Mayor Adrian Fenty, who was defeated in the Democratic primary last month by City Council Chairman
Vincent Gray. Sivak has decided to press forward with his ROWE plans despite the
possibility that he could lose his job come January, when a new mayor takes

In an interview, Sivak said he has not yet discussed his future or ROWE with Gray, who will almost certainly be the next mayor in the overwhelmingly Democratic city. When the issue comes up in meetings—and it
always does—Sivak declines to talk politics. He does it again today.

“The new mayor concerns are an abstract set of issues that will be addressed in relatively short order, one way or another,” he tells his colleagues, and indicates that they move onto other focus group findings.

It turns out there are plenty of other employee concerns the design team must address for the results-only transition to be successful, Swanson says.

Among other key findings from Swanson’s focus groups and interviews:

· OCTO is a “definitely high-energy, fast-paced, crazy-breezy” place where “it’s difficult to say no” to managers and where flexible work arrangements are not common.

· Managers are frustrated by their inability to reward high-performing workers, particularly at a time of pay freezes, and employees are frustrated that poor performance
reviews appear to have no consequences for laggards. “They feel poor
performance is not weeded out, performance appraisals are meaningless, and
reviews don’t mean anything,” according to Swanson.

· Employees “like the leadership” but “really felt that communication is not clear … they’re not sure what’s going on.”

· Workers feel like only one-third of their time is productively spent (“Does that mean when we implement ROWE, we’ll get a 60 percent improvement?” Sivak interrupts the
presentation to ask.)

· There is widespread concern that a new mayor arriving in January will kill the ROWE initiative and return the department to the city’s hard-and-fast 8:30 a.m. to
5:30 p.m. workday rules.

That last item raises the hackles of many in the room because there is no such rule in D.C. government—at least not on the books.

“Nobody knows what the truth is!” Moreno cries out in frustration.”

Click here to read the entire column. And please contact me directly with comments, suggestions, tips, etc.

Gadi Dechter

Associate Director of Government Reform

Center for American Progress

1333 H St., NW, 10th Floor

Washington, D.C. 20005

Tel: 202-478-6348| Fax: 202-682-1867

Email: [email protected]

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