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You can know what employees are doing without being Big Brother

There are less intimidating, yet effective ways to monitor your employees during working hours.
By Matt Straz |


There’s a fine line between monitoring employee productivity and micromanaging. A 2014 Accountemps survey revealed that, of the 59% of employees who reported working for a micromanager at some point, 55% said it hurt their productivity. No employee wants to work for Big Brother, and no manager wants to be Big Brother.



To avoid being known as the office control freak, here are four do’s and don’ts for tracking employee productivity:


1. Track individual performance.

How well a business performs comes down to how well employees perform. With that in mind, tracking individual performance is essential. Consider meeting with employees in a casual, one-on-one setting to get a better idea of how they are performing and the progress they’ve made toward their work goals.      


Don’t track time. Tracking individual performance is one thing; tracking hours and days is another. Time-tracking tools measure the amount of time employees spend on particular tasks and projects -- not the quality of their work or the results of time spent. Performance should be measured in work done well and deadlines met, not how long it took to get the job done.


Related: 3 tips for legally and ethically monitoring employees online


2. Stay visible.

Being more visible to employees, from spending more time on the office floor to friending employees on social media, can help deter time-wasting activities like these.       



Do trust employees to get the job done. Hovering over their shoulders gives the impression of a lack of trust. And with nearly 60% of workers polled in a 2014 Interaction Associates survey believing their organization lacks trust, it’s time to stop hovering and start believing in success.  



3. Use tech to monitor performance.

When used right, technology can help employers and employees keep track of individual performance. Implementing tech tools, like 360-degree performance management software, can give employers a full picture of employee performance, without employers looking like Big Brother.  


Don’t use tech to monitor individual email, Internet and social media use, however. These are more personal platforms that have less to do with how employees work. Monitoring these things can make the workplace feel a lot less safe and a lot more restricting.


Related: Distracted and overwhelmed employees are costing you big. Try these 3 fixes.


4. Motivate employees.

The key to not being Big Brother is creating a work environment and culture that motivates and engages employees, so employers don’t have to constantly track employee productivity. Empower employees by giving them ownership over their work. When employees understand how their work efforts contribute to the big picture, they’ll be more motivated to work toward their individual goals.     



Do make performance reviews less about employee performance and more about goal setting and employee development. Avoid discouraging reviews that only focus on what an employee is doing wrong. Spend more time focusing on the solution, not the problem.


Related: To motivate employees, find a balance between job enrichment and job enlargement


Copyright 2015 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been done by the editor.


Photos from Flickr (Okko Pyykko

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