In Search of Output: The Guide Understanding and Cultivating Employee Productivity / Work Life / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

We want our employees to have confidence in our ethical standards, and understand the limits of what we can and cannot see.

As companies scale and develop new products, they can find themselves in a bit of a mess in regards to getting the most out of their employees. 

A startup is designed to be lean and mean, so HR might not even be a department yet. Employees are probably, in the beginning, all stakeholders in making the dream a reality.

As success becomes a reality, it’s time to scale and bring on team members that can help your company get to the next level.

So how do you avoid the common pitfalls of employee productivity as you grow your team for the future?

Related Article: 6 Ways Yoga Can Improve Productivity at Work

Chase and Hold Out for the Rockstar

What does a rockstar employee look like for your company? It’s someone that is as passionate about your product or service as you are. They see the future and how what you are doing can positively impact the world. It’s easy to hire someone that can fill an empty seat quickly, answer the phones and dial random numbers from the phonebook. It’s something entirely different to find a winner that elevates the brand.

Don’t get me wrong, depending on your budget you might have to hire some losers in the short-term. But work every day to find ways to get rid of the people that don’t have your passion and replace them with people who get it.

Disagreements are a sign of passion. Respectful, constructive disagreements are the lifeblood of a company that survives. Everyone has a different perspective on a situation, so don’t be afraid of a passionate employee that gets fired up and wants to show you the light. Listen to them, as they will likely tell you things you haven’t thought about. If you disagree in the end, that’s fine. Make sure they’re the type of people that can take a “no” without shutting down or trying to continue the fight.

It’s a balancing act, but out of everything you look for in a prospective employee, you have to hire passion, because you can’t teach it.

Monitor Instead of Micromanaging

The two biggest complaints of employees that can spell disaster for your company are: (1) my boss is hovering over me and won’t leave me alone so that I can do my job, and (2) I never see my boss, so I figure most things out on my own and hope I’m right.

You have to strike a balance between providing the room to innovate, and micromanaging an employee for the sake of performance. In my business, I found the simplest way to balance the two was to meet with employees daily and provide them with clear direction on what I wanted accomplished. Then I would monitor their performance.

Related Article: Fast Fixes for the Bad Habits That Are Killing Your Productivity

Monitoring takes two forms for me. First, I look at the end-result of their efforts at the end of the week. Second, in real-time I monitor how my employees are utilizing company technology (hardware and software). If I can’t identify problems in real-time, then I’m going to have difficulty translating what the end-results are telling me within the context of the past week, month or year.

Is It Ethical to Monitor Employee Use of Technology?

Using a service like, I am often asked about how the use of a monitoring program impacts the work of my employees. When they find out that “Big Brother” is looking over their shoulder, do they get freaked out? Every manager has to properly implement technology monitoring software. Yes, it helps productivity and gives insights into performance, but improper implementation can backfire.

To meet the high ethical demands that I hold for myself and my team, I hold a time on my calendar every month for our team to meet and discuss how technology monitoring software is being used in the office. We discuss the pro’s and con’s with the employees that are being actively monitored. Then, we discuss the best path forward.

The vast majority of employees that have nothing to hide are willing to be monitored, as long as they know the scope and range of the monitoring. The reason our team is willing to give up some corporate privacy is because they understand how it impacts our bottom-line. Our scheduling team has actually updated our team’s lunch-break schedule based on when team members are traditionally the least productive. As a group, we feel confident that everyone else is rowing just as hard to get our sales and productivity to improve, month over month.

Limits on Technological Monitoring

There’s one hard and fast limit that every company needs to fully consider and follow: do not monitor employees without their written consent, and do not monitor their personal devices. If an employee wants to use Facebook on their corporate computer, they need to know that their information is being logged on our corporate servers. This is where informed consent plays a role.

Related Article: Helpful Tips for Maximizing Employee Productivity in a World of Distractions 

For this reason, we have not, and never will install monitoring software on the personal devices of our employees. Instead, we focus on performance and end-results, while monitoring the use and effectiveness of company-owned technology.

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