Some employers are taking advantage of new technologies to keep a closer and closer eye on their employees. They’re watching network traffic, reading emails, and recording computer screens. It’s been likened to “Big Brother.” Even worse, it’s not just the IT guys looking at computer usage. Tesco is in hot water for putting electronic armbands on employees to track everything from how fast they are walking to how long they spend in the bathroom. Invasive? That’s nothing.
Professional athletes are being wired up heart rate monitors and GPS tracking to see how much they effort they give in games and practices. Employers have even looked into implanting their workers with RFID chips in order to see what they’re up to. California went so far as to pass a law to protect workers from implanted tracking devices.
While many people wonder about the ethics of such detailed tracking, or the technology, an important question is if this kind of invasive monitoring is even effective. After all, what can a manager really learn about an employee from their Facebook page?
In the end, invasive monitoring solutions tend to fail for three reasons:
Instead of taking the role of “Big Brother,” managers need to take the role of “Good Manager.” Instead of managing to metrics and hammering on outliers, they should take the role of a personal trainer who wants everyone to do their best. From that, some degree of observation is obviously needed. No one should complain about their manager watching how they work as long as the goal of watching is to understand how they work and the challenges they’re having. Only from this can managers actually help employees improve.
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