Business productivity is an elusive goal that often pins managers in an endless game of optimization, inevitably leading to micromanaging.
Rather than squeezing the tiniest morsels of speed and efficiency from your employees, there’s a better way.
And it comes through the help of technology.
However, as we will see, technology alone won’t avoid micromanagement.
The Evils of Micromanagement
The attempt to manage every business operations detail, or helicopter management, can make employees feel stifled, overly cautious, and counterproductive.
In fact, 85% of employees note a drop in morale when they feel like they are being micromanaged.
A decline in morale and job satisfaction will not only dent employee productivity in the long-term, but likely lead to key employees considering other work options that offer more autonomy.
Hovering over employees looking for anything that might improve performance, no matter how small, like exact employee clock-in times and lunch breaks, can create more problems than it solves.
You may see a minor short-term uptick in productivity, but it comes at a cost. Around 55% of people said that micromanagers actually hurt their performance.
Put simply, people don’t like feeling as though Big Brother is watching every move, or that they’re not trusted. That’s why micromanaging is among the worst managerial offenses of all.
Countering Micromanaging with Technology
Like with so many problems in our modern world, technology can be the savior when it comes to micromanaging.
Employee monitoring software, when used correctly, can reveal productivity in real-time, allowing managers to understand where they can make the most meaningful adjustments. Without having to stand over the shoulder of employees.
For example, rather than using your employee monitoring software to make employees feel rigidly tied to processes, you can highlight and reward top-performers that think outside the box to do their jobs more efficiently.
But, tread carefully, the real-time flow of data generated by computer monitoring software can still invite overbearing management practices.
Many managers fall into the common trap of micromanagement, especially when they have data to support every minor confrontation.
So, even with technology, micromanagement remains a risk. However, dreaded micromanaging can be avoided with the following tips...
Use Data Wisely
Data is your business’s strategic advantage, if you know how to use it properly.
On one hand, employee tracking data can be used to support micro-optimizations and chase hard metrics at every turn. Or, data can be used to highlight patterns and trends in aggregate, helping one make more balanced and impactful decisions.
Productivity monitoring software can give you a ton of information, but the value is completely in the analysis.
One of the most effective ways to use individual data is to assess and improve task execution. An employee time tracker is a great way to assess task execution and understand how effective your processes and workflows are.
By using employee tracking data, you can set benchmarks for individual tasks. Then, if trends show them being consistently missed, your data can reveal if this is due to processes, the need for additional training needs, unbalanced workloads, or something else.
Look at the Big Picture
Micromanagement isn’t a software issue–it’s a people issue.
While productivity software can be used to monitor individual performance in real-time, it adds significant value by collecting productivity metrics in aggregate.
Software takes all the tiny data points and paints a landscape picture of your organization’s performance.
So, change the way you view the (work) world.
When using employee monitoring software, resist the temptation to primarily view data at the individual level.
Instead, use team-wide data to stay focused on preventing bottlenecks, identifying trends, and finding workflow efficiencies.
Instead of being drawn to individual actions and behaviors, focus on a more complete picture made up of millions of data points from productivity and analytics software. Don’t let blind yourself to the big picture by constantly zooming into the smallest details.
Aggregate data from employee monitoring software allows for a panoramic view that is otherwise lost in the hustle and bustle of daily operations.
This can help you spot bottlenecks that can cause productivity issues further along the line, whether that bottleneck is an individual employee or an inefficient process.
You can’t hit a target you can’t see.
By making the monsters hidden in the dark visible, you can recruit your employees to work as a team to solve your organization’s inefficiencies.
Data visibility is about empowerment, not demoralization.
A policy of transparency goes a long way.
Sharing productivity data generated by employee time tracking software with your employees lets them inside the productivity monitoring process. It makes them part of the journey.
As well as generating more on-the-ground feedback, involving employees in the productivity tracking process reveals what is and isn’t being captured.
To make it clear you are not micro-analyzing every working minute, you have to show employees what’s going on “under the hood”.
Show employees how the information collected is being used, how it’s secured, and how their privacy is being respected.
Transparency around productivity can also benefit employee career progression by enabling them to track and improve day-to-day.
All organizations are bound to the same 24 hours in a day.
“Winning” may seem like it comes down to squeezing every minute out of every day, but the incessant drive to maximize productivity can blind us to the long-term effects.
When we’re talking about organizational productivity, as we have seen, micromanaging is counterproductive.
If your employees are solely judged on their ability to appease micromanagers, they’ll either constantly be in a state of underperformance, or will have little else worth striving for beyond the bare minimum.
So, when striving for productivity, remember the tips above.