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How to Be the Anti-NSA to Your Employees

By August 6, 2014 May 30th, 2016 No Comments

man with tabletWhen it comes to internal accountability for your company’s employees, there’s a balance that needs to be maintained – and it’s not impossible to attain. Using time tracking as an example, employees must track their time to projects, tasks, customers, etc.  so that you can understand costs, know where you’re profitable and where you’re not, bill and pay accurately, and see where your projects are at.

That said, there is a line between managing and micromanaging. While getting the above data is important and necessary for your business to grow, micromanaging will hamper the growth of your business and create an unsatisfied, disengaged workplace. On average, employees who know they are being watched perform at a lower level, which has a direct impact on their quality of work, happiness and ease in the office, as well as ability to get along with others. The micromanager is also left dissatisfied, knowing that time spent hovering over employees could be better spent getting valuable projects done.

So here’s how to effectively manage without micromanaging

We’ve found there are two key components:

1: Be specific

The key here is really clear communication. You need to make sure that everyone’s on the same page, particularly when it comes to the specifications for projects and their deadlines.

It might be a dead horse to beat, but there’s a reason that the SMART goal setting process is so popular. Here’s a brief overview:

  • Specific: When people are confused about the project or their role in it, chances are they aren’t going to get their work done correctly.
  • Measurable: If the task isn’t measurable, how will your team member know when it’s done?
  • Assignable: This is a given, since you’re managing a team.
  • Realistic: Don’t overload your team members. They’ll just submit a lower quality of work in an attempt to get it all done.
  • Time-oriented: Without a deadline, tasks can quickly be forgotten about, put on the backburner or fall through the cracks entirely.

2: A review process complete with status updates

To keep your team members accountable, they need to be meeting with a manager for a review process regularly. What “regularly” means can change from manager to manager. What’s important is that the review process shouldn’t be about accusations, but an honest and open forum where either party can air concerns; where the manager can ask the employee, “What’s holding you back? What can we change that will make it easier for you to get your work done?” This can be done monthly or quarterly, and should be counted as a separate process from submitting project status updates.

When it comes to status updates, you need to have accurate ways to monitor progress. Ideally, this will consist of two parts:

  • Information tracking: This can be done without the manager checking in with the employee for updates. Information tracking is an easy way to see progress at a glance, such as a project calendar on a wall or a shared drive.
  • Quick status updates: Here, team members can air concerns about a project and answer any specific questions about what’s holding them up or what problems they foresee with their assignment.

Overall, trust your instincts. If you’re in-tune with your team, it will be easy to notice when an employee is in stress-mode or, on the other hand, when a project is going smoothly. At the end of the day, it depends entirely on the personality of the employee and their respective project manager. Know that no two tasks are alike, and that having a way to track information without physically and literally being in your employee’s business will alleviate the thoughts of having “big brother” hovering over their shoulder. Follow these steps, and a more enjoyable workplace environment is bound to flourish.