Monitoring employees: Should you or shouldn’t you?

Have you ever wondered how much time you spend goofing off or checking Facebook at work? Certainly, managers and supervisors think about this—a lot. Some employers are now installing monitoring programs on employee computers. Programs now can keep track of how many hours employees spend on social networking or gaming sites; individual use can be precisely monitored.

It’s a motivational and disciplinary tool that has copped fair criticism. The Sydney Morning Herald wrote:

‘Employers did not seem to have a problem when the advent of iPhones meant more employees checking work emails after hours. Why shouldn’t social life intrude a little back into work? … at the end of the day, a good boss should already know if an employee is working efficiently or skiving off.’

Working with people is not the mystery it’s made out to be. The key to management success? Employees are real people!

Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, who founded Hewlett and Packard, were pioneers. In their early years, they were envied for their financial success, which was built on an innovative management strategy. They called it ‘management by walking around’.

Every day, the two men would walk around their office, then quite small, and ask everyone how they were doing. That’s it. No interrogation of productivity or deadlines; just a friendly chat every morning. It was simple and effective. For years, HP had the best employee-to-productivity ratio in the business.

Of course the company grew, and ‘walking around’ would have taken the better part of the day, so the strategy fell away in the wake of expansion. But the key insight remains: if employees feel like worthwhile human beings, they will work with purpose.

Trust, not suspicion and threat, make people want to work well.

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