Keeping staff on track

Technology can help you monitor staff, but how much tracking is healthy? GrowthBusiness reports on keeping productively on track without compromising output.

Technology can help you monitor staff, but how much tracking is healthy? We report on keeping productively on track without compromising output.

There are various ways of making sure your employees are at their most productive, but while some managers favour close monitoring of their staff, others feel it can be avoided.

Communications company Powwownow uses measurement tools to track its staff, logging conversion rates, customer service metrics and other stats such as number of calls answered.

Managing director Andrew Pearce says such technology is ‘both a blessing and a curse’.

‘It is important to give your managers specific measurement tools for each of their Over-monitoring can suggest that staff are not trusted teams, as metrics are different for each department,’ says Pearce.

But he adds, ‘It is actually detrimental to be over-prying as staff work better when they feel trusted and in charge of their own workload. Micromanaging or being overscrupulous about how they do their work is just paranoid.’

Tightening the net

Nigel Pushman, managing director of restaurant and bar chain Game Bird Inns, says that although he wouldn’t use intrusive measures to keep tabs on staff, it is necessary to restrict employees’ internet usage.

‘Undoubtedly, social media can be a great source for improving knowledge and therefore productivity in areas such as sales, marketing and HR, but if you allow unlimited access without being able to control it then it is likely that the productivity gains could be outweighed by losses in other areas,’ he says.

Many companies feel it is best to give staff freedom in their roles without scrupulous analysis of their performance.

David Crabb, managing director of IT services business Cambridge Online, believes that honesty and transparency from managers is the key to making sure staff pull their weight.

He says, ‘Many years ago, I phoned up one member of staff, and there was background noise, as if he was out shopping. He said he was just coming out of a meeting but he clearly wasn’t. I told him that, within reason, I had no problem with staff coming out of a customer meeting and going out to buy something for themselves.

‘As long as you still hold them accountable for the end result, you can give staff as much freedom as they want. The use of tracking tools engenders a feeling of lack of trust and insecurity. If you feel that you can’t trust your people, you’ve got the wrong people.’