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Monitoring employees without micromanaging (or stalking) them

It’s no news that most U.S. workers aren’t engaged in their jobs. A simple Google search will spit out an abundance of studies, statistics and analysis on the matter.

But you already know that. You’re here, after all.

You’re also likely aware that limiting employee assessment and engagement exercises to once (or even twice) per year isn’t enough to drive performance and engagement. True progress can only come from an ongoing back-and-forth with employees.

With that in mind, many managers feel compelled to keep a close watch on employees year-round. Too close, in fact. And with modern technology, it’s easy for many organizations to assume the role of Big Brother, stalking their employees’ every move. (Pro tip: Don’t do that.)

Matt Straz, founder and CEO of Namely, shared four tips for tracking employee productivity without being a control freak in a recent piece for Entrepreneur:

  1. Track individual performance. NOT time.
    “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,” writes Straz. Instead, focus on outcomes. Not output.
  2. Stay visible.
    “Being more visible to employees, from spending more time on the office floor to friending [them] on social media” can help deter distractions and time-wasting activities like texting, office gossip and web surfing.
  3. Use tech to monitor performance.
    Do use technology tools to give employees a clear, full picture of goals and performance. Don’t use tech to monitor emails and Internet use, however. “Monitoring these things can make the workplace feel a lot less safe and a lot more restricting” — a recipe for disaster when it comes to morale and engagement.
  4. Motivate employees.
    Cultivate a culture that motivates and engages, so you don’t have to constantly track productivity. Empower employees by giving them ownership over their work and help them understand how their efforts contribute to the big picture.

Finally, Straz advises making performance reviews less about performance and more about goal setting and employee development. “Spend more time on the solution, not the problem.”