Should a Small Business Monitor Employees?

by Greg Skloot
Small Business   |   3 Min Read
monitor employees

This can be dangerous, because it starts to cross into micromanagement, which is something we always want to avoid.

If we are referring to physical monitoring (i.e. not stealing things), most small businesses are using a mixture of security cameras and inventory tracking software. However, if you frequently have employees that are stealing, it might make sense to re-think the hiring process to better screen those types of people out.

Assuming that we’re more focused on monitoring employee’s progress on achieving the small business’ goals (i.e. productivity), consider:

1. Documenting what you want done

It all starts with clearly articulating what each employee is responsible for. If this is not made abundantly clear, we can’t expect employees to achieve what we hope. Everyone should have defined roles, responsibilities and a description of what success looks like. This can start simple:

2. Reporting status updates regularly

Once everyone is clear on WHAT is expected of them, you need to build systems for employees to easily share progress on what has been completed so far, and anything blocking them from being successful. I recommend having every employee write a quick summary at the end of each week recapping their top objectives, concerns and plan for the following week, using a simple online tool like Weekly Update.

Shorter meetings. Real accountability.
Try Weekly Status Updates

3. Creating a culture of accountability

Employees need to know that they are being held accountable for delivering results based on the goals you documented in step 1. If they understand that, you don’t need to monitor anyone daily. As long as you have a process for them to report status and get questions answered, the manager doesn’t need to do anything else, because than it would be micromanagement.

This plays out by having weekly team meetings where you review results and make key decisions. Everyone needs to know that if they show up without the results, they are going to be called out, and if that happens enough, they will be cut from the team. Building this culture of accountability eliminates the need for “monitoring”.

4. Having clear ways to measure success

You need an easy to measure success, and it must be obviously to employees. In the examples I laid out above, we can easily tell if we sold a certain amount of orders and track in our customer support software or inventory tracking system that we are hitting the other goals. If it’s not measurable, employees can’t be held accountable for it.

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