I posted a recent tidbit about the importance of monitoring compliance with corporate processes to LinkedIn recently.

It seems like any time I bring this up online (and sometimes when I’m doing keynote speeches / corporate events), a lot of the push-back comes from people saying a variant of “It’s stupid to micromanage people like that! Don’t track what they’re doing, hire good people and trust them to get the job done! If I worked at a place that micromanaged, I’d quit!”

That sounds like a relevant criticism.

It sounds like a healthy management strategy. It seems like the way things should be done in the world I want to live in…

And yet….

What would the world look like in a world where “Hire good people and trust them to get the job done” was the only criteria for being a great manager?

Well, to start, you could fire most managers. No need for them! In this world, you only need great hiring managers, who would find these “good people,” who could then be left alone to get their job done.

Wonderful! We’re saving money already!

But in the world we live in, the real world, it’s not enough to cross our fingers, do a rain dance, and hope that our people are using their time and skills optimally to advance the best interests of the company.

Sometimes (and I know this makes a lot of people queasy), we actually have to talk to our employees and point out when they’re doing something wrong.

To do this, we have to know when they’ve done something wrong.

To do this, we have to know what they’re doing.

The more we understand how they spend their time, and what they’re doing, the better the sense we get of what they think their top priorities are, and how they are accomplishing those.

Sometimes (and I know this is shocking), we also find out that … they’re not doing what we expect them to be doing.

They might even be finding ways to do work that is easy but of low value.

Across the hundreds of companies I’ve worked with in dozens of industries, I can count on both hands the cases where truly high performers have objected to senior management having more insight into what they do.

The most typical response from them is…

“Finally I’ll get the recognition I deserve.”

Having the right monitoring and reporting in place doesn't demotivate your top performers – it allows you to spot them and reward them commensurately.

It does make your low performers sweat though – the last thing they want is for you actually to see what they’re doing all day.

As a final note – the best reporting is unobtrusive. It’s there to show you the deviations from expectation. For most of your employees, they won’t notice it. For your best, it’s a way to bring to your attention the fact that they really are the best.

And for the worst… Which conversation starter do you think will be more effective:

A) “Looks like your sales are low. Why?”
B) “So, I see you’re only 20% of the way towards your target sales, even though we’re halfway through the year. I also see that you’ve only done about 15% of the sales activity as our office average. Why is that?”

The first is asking to hear excuses and a story. The second is asking for a commitment of effort.

Your Challenge For This Week: Honestly, do you have the right monitoring and reporting in place for the most critical areas of your business so you can ask the right questions?

If not, what can you do about it?

Don't simply hope that doing a rain dance will eventually make it rain.