Monitoring every single step of an employee’s day is not a productive way to manage a team, but keeping tabs on what they achieve is still an important part of effective team management.

So how do you do it without breathing down their necks? Take these four steps.

1. Set ground rules

It’s important to be clear about the way the company or you as a manager like the team to operate so staff members are sure about expectations. For example, if it’s important that staff arrive at work by 9am and leave after 5pm, make that clear. But also remind staff that if they need time off to attend to personal matters within work hours, they simply need to ask and, if possible, that time will be granted.

Be very clear about the rules around social media use in work time and on work computer systems. What happens if staff members spend too much time on Facebook? If there are consequences for insubordination, then it’s unlikely that staff will behave badly.

It’s also important to set out key performance indicators (KPIs). Obviously, most of these goals centre on work performance and achievements, but if staff members are spending too much time talking among other team members and not meeting work deadlines, then this behaviour will reflect poorly on their overall performance review.

2. Encourage trust

As important as is it to establish ground rules, it’s also vital to afford team members the freedom and respect to work in the way that’s most productive for them. If you micromanage too much, it’s possible that staff will never reach their full potential, as they’ll never have the space to develop and strive towards the next step. If you do allow staff a little leeway, they’ll often reward you with good work and develop a sense of personal responsibility that will enable you to depend on them down the track.

3. Establish time sheets

If staff members abuse your trust or if you’re suspicious about how they’re spending their time, establish a time sheet system. Although this practice may seem a little overbearing, it can be an effective tool for monitoring your team’s workload and assessing whether the most suitable person is doing the work. It may be that you roll out this procedure as an initial phase so employees become more accountable for their time on particular projects or tasks, and once you feel comfortable with what this transparency reveals, do away with the practice.

4. Hold weekly work-in-progress (WIPs) meetings

It’s so important to facilitate effective channels of communication – it’s the key to successful teamwork and to allowing independent work to flourish. It doesn’t necessarily mean holding meetings every day – perhaps weekly is enough or even fortnightly. Opening up the dialogue between managers and team members will bring additional transparency to what’s going on in the office.

It’s worth remembering that keeping track of how your staff members are performing throughout the year makes six-month or yearly performance reviews so much easier.

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