How companies are tracking their best people without becoming big brother

How companies are tracking their best people without becoming big brother

Andre Lavoie is the CEO of ClearCompany, the first talent alignment platform that bridges the gap between talent management and business strategy by contextualizing employees’ work around a company’s vision and goals.

Privacy is a huge buzzword in today’s digitally-connected world. Companies are trying to strike a balance between transparent organizational structures that encourage collaboration and innovation, and respecting the privacy and boundaries of workers. These companies are walking a tightrope, and they’re often falling down.

What happens is usually far from organizational transparency and closer to micromanagement. Instead of having sight lines into the workflow of your team, companies become Big Brother and put tight structures in place with the hope of cracking down on time-wasters and improving productivity.

According to the book “What To Do When There’s Too Much To Do” by Laura Stack, some 75 to 80 percent of the American workforce has suffered at the hands of micromanagement. However, for your team to do their best work, they have to feel trusted and independent.

In fact, a study by Dale Carnegie showed 42 percent of the most engaged workers felt their talents were being utilized and recognized, not micromanaged.

So, how do you maintain a transparent organization without becoming Big Brother? A focus on goals and accountability just might be the answer:

Help employees understand goals, so you don’t have to hover

Goals should act as the basis for everything you do within your company, but sadly this isn’t often the case. Most of your employees are stumbling around in a fog, not quite sure how their work is contributing to overall company goals and organizational objectives. The recent “How Leaders Grow Today” study found 43 percent of employees were familiar with company goals yet couldn’t specifically name them.

It’s no wonder Gallup discovered 70 percent of the American workforce is disengaged on the job, since most employees don’t even understand why their work matters. This begins a vicious cycle where lack of goal transparency leads to poor motivation, which eventually leads to misalignment and poor cascading.

Employers see the end results, without considering the cause, and crack down on behavior with micromanagement instead of clarity.

So, employees feel less trusted and less accountable, and therefore take less ownership of their work. To get your best people engaged and to stop hovering over their shoulders, empower your workforce with goals. Make sure everyone understands why their work matters, what they’re working toward, and how their efforts contribute.

You hired good people, and if you provide them a company roadmap by clarifying goals, you can stop backseat driving since they’ll be heading in the right direction.

See progress without micromanaging

Goals are an important building block for your workforce, but you still need to ensure your best people are staying on track. This is usually where companies miss the boat and dive right into micromanagement. Instead, real-time tracking tools are gaining traction as a smart way for companies to keep tabs on employees, without standing over the shoulders of your best people.

By encouraging team members to take ownership of their own workflow, real-time tracking leads to greater autonomy and accountability. A recent study looked at employees with the highest levels of engagement at their respective companies. Looking specifically at the top 10 percent of most engaged employees, this study found accountability was the second largest driver of engagement.

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Your best people want to feel accountable and responsible for their own work, and real-time tracking helps put ownership in your people’s hands without losing sight lines into workflow.

It also helps to keep your best people on the same page and working toward the same goals. This allows you to address a small problem before it snowballs into large issue, and can prevent work from cascading away from goals instead of toward them.

Real-time tracking also cuts down on toxic office politics, because upper management is able to see exactly which team members are contributing, thereby ensuring they reward the right people for a job well done.

Encourage full transparency

You want to know what’s happening in your company and you need to keep tabs on workflow, but you don’t want to become a micromanager breathing down employees’ necks. The key is to encourage a company culture centered around transparency by making it easy to see what everyone is working on and working towards.

For instance, in addition to real-time tracking, some companies send out meeting notes from every meetings. Other companies have embraced a more radical form of transparency, making all salaries within the organization public.

You don’t have to put paychecks on display to increase transparency, but you do need to keep your best people in the loop. After all, 50 percent of respondents to a survey by Fierce, Inc. thought a lack of company-wide transparency was holding their organization back. Proper transparency makes it easy to get everyone involved and pulling in the same direction.

It might be tempting to become Big Brother to your employees to ensure everyone stays on track. This method of management, however, is more likely to lose you talent than motivate your best people. Instead, work on increasing transparency and make it easy for your team to see how their work matters.

If you stop hovering and give accountability to your best people, you might be surprised by what they can accomplish.

What do you think? How do you keep track of your team without micromanaging? Share in the comments!

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