The Ugly Truth about monitoring employees with software and timesheets
“It’s like crack cocaine” he said.
Not my words.
A friend of mine was chatting with a friend who runs a construction company. He’s probably one of the top three in his city at what he does.
For years he has been struggling with various tactics to monitor his employees.
From paper timesheets through excel templates to sophisticated software.
I can say that for years, he has been a member of an imaginary “monitor your employee club” (a group of “monitor at all cost Tactical-Managers” who had all been frantically milking the monitor cow).
“Abandoning time and GPS tracking has been the number one thing we have done that has increased employee engagement, happiness, loyalty and productivity.”
“GPS tracking runs down battery”“Workers sometimes switch off the app and claim there are network issues”
“Tracking and charging for time is like selling gold by the inch”
Here’s a suggestion:
Leave the status quo to “control” their employees and treat the very heart of their businesses as a machine, and then do the opposite.
Instead of, “let’s monitor and control our employees, so they become reliable,” what about flipping that thinking on its head?
Towards building a great mission and purpose culture that drives employee behavior and action, underpinned by tools that support and enforce the culture in place.
Put another more blunt way:
If you want to STOP the cash flow and profitability pain caused by unreliable employees during this Coronavirus outbreak fast… and I mean NOW.
- Stop acting the POLICE, start acting the LEADER
- Stop trying to scare them with meetings and query letters.
- Stop trying to figure out if you should install a time tracking app on their smartphone.
You’re grinding your cash flow and profitability away, my friend!
In other words…
Stop trying to control the OUTCOME(Reliability).
Start Focusing on BEHAVIOR (CULTURE) and ACTION
My team and I have been researching the “culture, behavior and action” thing to the best of our abilities for some time now after being exposed to something that completely shifted my mindset and behavior.
I got lucky maybe.
So I want to share what I found with you now. The rest of this letter is about how you can do the opposite and thrive as a result.
Because what I discovered during my research, completely shifted how I approach monitoring and control of employee time.
It changed everything. And perhaps it can help you, too.
About a year I was exposed to a strategic philosophy called
control the behavior not the result by, Jim Camp:
One thing, in particular, hit me hard, like a punch to the face.
An AHA that established a lens I’ve been looking through for over a year now.
The strategy presumes the attitude— that you stop trying to control the outcome and focus on behavior and actions.
The essence of the philosophy is that it’s about developing behaviors and activities that you pursue that help you reach your goal, Everything else including all results—we may as well think of as ACTS OF GOD.
Read that again. Let it sink in.
Now there is a challenge.
The behavior we are talking about here is not the manager or the business owner’s behavior. It is the behavior of the employee.
This makes it a little contradictory to understand and apply, because, while philosophy teaches us to focus on what we can control and leave the rest to God, what is advised to control is the behavior of another human being.
How hard is it to control the behavior and actions of a human being?
As I thought about this, a word dropped in my mind: Influence.
I immediately picked up my dictionary:
The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.
Now I know, if the only thing I as a manager or business owner have to focus on controlling is the employee’s behavior and actions, I need a good dose of influence.
So, I continued my research discovered that:
John C. Maxwell once famously said this:
And Ken Blanchard also connected influence with leadership:
So, now the word leadership made its entry and I had to dig deep to find what Peter Drucker, considered as one of the greatest philosophers of leadership and management:
Hear what he had to say about leadership:
And what I figured out was that I could use these philosophies as an underpinning framework to engineer “influence.”
Influence that worked to make employee monitoring and control (completely) superfluous.
So, everything’s coming together, but there is one component that seems to be missing.
This all sounds like we don’t need to monitor anything anymore right?
Like we should never use tools like timesheets and apps to monitor employees anymore right?
Well, I thought so as well, then I went even deeper in my research, as I knew there was a missing piece in this puzzle.
Then I found Peter Drucker at it again:
I had figured out a framework that would engineer influence, and also empower employees.
A framework that does not seek to push employees, but that creates a pull. A pull so strong they happily apply the tools which help us track and manage time.
They do so because they have been influenced by my leadership to understand the mission and purpose.
The mission and purpose which has an arm focused on them.
Now let’s zoom into the framework to see how it can be applied strategically.
Step 1: Create a Mission and Purpose that includes the employees
In his excellent book Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, and Practice, Peter Drucker dedicates many pages to the topic of understanding what is it you really do—your mission and purpose.
He says: “Your business is never apparent. It requires you to ask many in-depth questions that give you a process that provides constant refocusing of what you do.”
As you set a valid mission and purpose in place, you will discover that the picture of what you are trying to accomplish becomes crystal clear and eliminates confusion.
If the mission and purpose are well defined, the employee will see his place in it.
There should be part of the mission and purpose which is set in the employee’s world.
Some businesses make a mistake to set the mission and purpose only in the customer’s world. Start thinking about this differently as from today.
Setting the mission and purpose of the employee’s world allows them to see clearly the features and benefits that the company has to offer them.
In his famous book, straight-line leadership, Dusan DJUKICH, says:
“Your inner stance is the position or mental posture you create to live your life from. It is how you choose to live your life, exist, or “be” in regard to yourself, others, challenges, or life in general.”
A valid mission and purpose for the employee provide insight, which in turn helps them to change their inner stance about work and the company in general.
During this coronavirus epidemic, people are stressed, anxious and overwhelmed.
How does your mission and purpose help employees to overcome a period like this?
I have this crazy idea of setting up weekly online discussion rounds where business owners and managers discuss how to monitor employees working remotely and in the fields.
One of the hottest topics we would be addressing will be that of mission and purpose. You would share ideas and learn how best to create one.
Step 2: Derive your Target (expected results) from your Mission and Purpose (Keep in mind you cannot control them)
In this step, you derive your expected results from mission and purpose. This is very critical as your employees need to see that the results you are focusing on are those that are derived from the mission and purpose. They want to know they are contributing to a bigger picture, a higher calling.
If one of your expected results is productivity. The question to answer in this step is, how does productivity contribute to the mission and purpose?
In our weekly online discussion rounds, we will also be sharing ideas around this step.
Step 3: Define Behavioral goals from the Expected results
Think behavior, forget results! It is so important to understand this step. In this step, you have to make a clear distinction between goals and results (or objectives). Goals you can control, results, or objectives you cannot.
By influencing your employees to follow valid behavioral goals, you get to your objectives.
One of the behavioral goals that could lead to high productivity could be that employees always show up on time at work.
Would you like to join our weekly rounds to share stories around how we can better define behavioral goals that will fuel our objectives and mission and purpose?
Step 4: Track and Measure to empower employees to enforce goals, objectives and therefore mission and purpose
This may be your favorite because this is what many managers and business owners know how to do best.
As Peter Drucker puts it, we cannot manage what we cannot measure.
So tools like timesheets, apps can be very useful to empower the employee to keep track of their behavior.
Notice the spirit of the tool in this case. It’s not to control the bad boy or to play big brother, rather it’s to empower.
For Peter Drucker again said:
Control is a tool of the worker and must never be his master.
It must also never become a replacement for building company culture with a mission and purpose that gives the worker control.
We also think we need to track and measure so as to manage, so we built a tool that fills a gap we saw in this space.
Our robust GPS time tracking app delivers time tracking, mileage tracking and scheduling all in one place.
By empowering your employees to track and measure their behavioral goals, you obtain your results and objectives. By obtaining your results and objectives you further your mission and purpose.
So, at all times, seek to set goals and objectives that are as valid as the mission and purpose they serve.
How do you go about this process at your company?
I would be happy to hear your thoughts below in the comments section.