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For a Happy & Productive Team, Lead with Trust This Year

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Employee monitoring is over. Choose Freedom!

It’s tempting to use employee monitoring to keep your team on track. You want to hit those quarterly goals, right? I hear you! But the research doesn’t agree. 

Studies show monitoring your team isn’t the best way to motivate them. Employee monitoring software actually hurts employee morale and trust. And did you know it can have adverse effects, causing productivity to decline? So, this year, why not try a different approach? 

It’s true, alternatives exist! There are tons of other methods that make for a much healthier, sustainably-paced work environment, all contributing to a more effective and collaborative team.

So are you ready to start 2023 with fresh, empowering leadership tools? We’ll show you how to lead with trust and create a happy, healthy, and productive team without resorting to invasive employee monitoring software. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. 

Employee Monitoring: Why It’s A Problem for Successful Team Work and Leadership

Checking in with your team is different from constantly monitoring them. Whether you’re using an employee monitoring software to log keystrokes or watching your in-office team like a hawk, surveilling your staff is never a good idea — for anyone involved. 

Here’s why you should stop employee monitoring and lead with trust instead:

Constant Surveillance Undermines Your Leadership Skills

If the only way you can feel confident that your staff is doing their job is by constantly supervising them, that’s a bit of a red flag. And as someone in a leadership role, this issue reflects more on you than on them. 

Whether or not you hired these individuals, you should have enough faith in your leadership skills to know you can help these folks be successful independently. And even if your team is genuinely slacking off behind the scenes, monitoring them doesn’t solve anything. 

A lack of productivity points to deeper issues. Does your staff feel challenged enough? Are they motivated? Do they need more support and encouragement? Consider what you can do to help your team, not how you can catch them doing nothing. 

If the only way you can feel confident that your staff is doing their job is by constantly supervising them, that’s a bit of a red flag. And as someone in a leadership role, this issue reflects more on you than on them. 

Productivity Theatre Takes Away From Your Real Jobs

Spending excessive time and energy tracking your employees also prevent you from doing your job. I mean, employee monitoring is essentially just glorified babysitting! And having the looming threat of being watched puts pressure on your team to engage in productivity theater instead of accomplishing real work. Surely that’s not in their job descriptions.

Not only are folks wasting time feigning productivity (because let’s be honest, trying to prove productivity via visual cues is inherently unproductive), but they’re also throwing away their energy. Instead of innovating, problem-solving, or creating, they’re preoccupied with meeting metrics. And you can’t blame ’em! They’re just trying to prove their worth — and if keyboard clicks are more valued than output, that’s what you’ll get. 

Visual Cues and Other Metrics Don’t Tell the Whole Story

“Acting” productively also reinforces the idea that working has to look a certain way. And typically, these ideas of what work should look like are pretty constraining. We have some pretty engrained biases! 

For example, what do you think if you see someone on their phone at their desk? Do you assume they’re scrolling their social media feeds or texting about unrelated matters? Sure, that’s possible, but what if they actually just type emails faster from their phone than from their computer?

And what do you think about the person who leaves work first versus the one who stays the latest? Do you assume the latter is harder working because they’re there longer? Maybe it’s the opposite, and the first one out the door actually has the best time management skills. 

See, these visual indicators of productivity aren’t reliable. And neither are most metrics you get from employee monitoring apps. So it’s pretty darn tricky to measure productivity with these snippets accurately. They don’t tell the whole story. 

Employee Monitoring Activates Stress Responses

Metrics certainly don’t account for the fact that humans act differently when being watched. It’s a natural response! And for many, having someone breathing down their neck (literally or metaphorically) feels incredibly threatening. Especially when it’s their boss. I mean, their jobs are at stake! So, of course, they’ll feel heightened. You’re essentially questioning their integrity, and that’s no fun for anyone. 

Plus, our brains simply don’t function the same way when we’re in a stress response. It primes us for defense and survival — and those aren’t conditions in which we do our best work. 

It can become a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you start monitoring your staff because you think they aren’t as productive, they might become a less productive employee because you’re watching them.  

Real Issues Fall Under the Radar

We can’t forget that this toxic attempt to increase productivity fails to provide team members with useful tools. Instead, it blames them. And if no one asks, “How can I help you succeed?” then what’s the point of seeking this data anyway? A little help goes a long way. And chances are, your team is more than capable — they just don’t have the proper support in place. 

happy productive team working together

Alternatives to Employee Monitoring to Create a Happy Workplace

Treating your team with respect and dignity is the simplest way to create a happy workplace. And a happy workplace cultivates creativity, collaboration, and productivity. Not to mention, employee wellbeing is a crucial component of a healthy and successful company atmosphere. 

So this year, try operating from a solution-oriented position. Worry less about catching your staff’s productivity decline and focus more on what you can do to help them succeed. 

Non-invasive, supportive, and encouraging leadership approaches empower folks to thrive. And everyone deserves the chance to be the best they can be! Forgoing invasive employee monitoring tools and trusting your team involves seeing the best in people, believing in them, and assuming they are capable of doing their jobs — which they should be! Otherwise, they probably wouldn’t be a good fit at your company. 

Become a more productive leader by trying these alternatives to employee monitoring. 

Use Freedom

Give your staff the gift of Freedom. Our time management software encourages team members to create boundaries by letting them block distracting apps, notifications, websites, and more. All on their own terms, in a way that works for them. 

Using this type of productivity tool naturally fosters autonomy and builds confidence within each team member. And why’s this empowerment so important? When folks feel capable and trusted, they work better, more efficiently, and more creatively. Plus, they can curate conditions that help them flourish. 

If non-stop email notifications are distracting (aren’t they always?), staff members can turn them off as needed. Leadership teams can also promote employee wellbeing by encouraging workers to block job-related platforms when the day is done.  

People often respect those who lead with trust more than those who don’t. And mutual respect is another pillar of a happy, healthy, productive workplace. 

Set Clear Goals and Expectations

Every person comes into situations with different scripts or expectations of what will happen. Acknowledging that each individual has unique past experiences, standards, and interpretations that greatly shape their behavior is crucial to successful team leadership. 

So does that mean you have to accept shoddy work? No! But it does mean you should set clear goals and expectations for your team. Even things that seem obvious to you may not be on others’ radars. And it’d be unfair to assume they can read your mind if you’ve never communicated it. 

Provide Regular Support and Feedback

You want your staff to succeed, right? They want that too! Check in with them regularly to see how they’re doing, if they need assistance, and what that support may look like. As with any team, it’s vital to know what they’re struggling with so you can help them thrive. 

Talk with your staff members as humans, not just workers. They’ve got things going on in their lives that might affect their performance. Keep it professional, but see if there are resources you can connect them with or accommodations you can make so they can flourish. 

Most importantly, know that open and honest communication goes both ways and requires kindness and respect. Encourage folks to share their thoughts, concerns, and questions, and show empathy when they do. It can be scary! Take consideration in choosing the right times and methods of communication too. The setting matters. 

If you start monitoring your staff because you think they aren’t as productive, they might become a less productive employee because you’re watching them.  

Allow for Flexibility

How much does it matter when your employees work or where they work? Sure, it can be important to some extent. But do they have to be in the office from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday? 

While keeping your entire staff on a consistent schedule may be nice, aim to provide flexibility when possible. And this doesn’t have to take any specific mold. Maybe you initiate “Work From Home Wednesdays” or let folks start and leave early so they can pick their kids home from school, for example. Remember, work-life balance is crucial to employee wellbeing. So a little give and take can pay off big time in the long run. 

Encourage Collaboration

Feeling like you’re part of something bigger can help staff feel more invested in the whole team’s success. One easy way to do this? Encourage collaboration! 

Your staff consists of people with unique experiences, perspectives, and abilities. Everyone brings something different to the table. This is such a valuable resource within your company, both for purposes of productivity and inspiration. 

When you promote working together, chances are you’ll spark more creativity and stronger communication. Plus, it’s easier to solve problems and create a supportive atmosphere when employees know all these folks are on their side. 

Foster a Positive Team Culture

Positive feedback, encouragement, and community. These are all key traits of a successful team. Part of productive leadership is curating a climate where members can thrive. Engagement, support, and empowerment are natural motivators. And at the heart of it all? Respect. 

Inclusivity, sensitivity, and trust breed feelings of safety. When people operate within a nonjudgmental environment like this, it’s more likely that they’ll share new ideas, respectfully challenge ones they disagree with, and welcome learning opportunities. 

All of this starts with you. You’ve gotta walk the walk too!

Positive young woman coach together with team of multicultural young people discussing productive strategy in front of whiteboard. Diverse workers dressed in casual wear communicating with each other

Benefits of Building Employee Trust

Cultivating employee trust is the gift that keeps on giving. Making your workplace a happier, healthier environment that empowers individuals both as workers and also as whole, complex beings has endless benefits. And it benefits you and them! 

Here are just a few work-related perks of leading with trust. 

Enhanced Creativity

What does my boss think of me? Do I look like I’m working hard enough? Is my job secure? Does my company value me? 

Creativity cannot coexist with worrisome thoughts like this. They occupy your brain, stealing focus and energy away from any sense of creativity. But you can take the power of these anxious questions by developing trust. 

Avoiding invasive employee monitoring tools and developing trustworthy relations with your team can ease these worries. Instead, creativity can replace those defensive thoughts. 

Also, establishing direct yet encouraging conversations allows staff to feel comfortable pitching outside-the-box ideas and feel supported in exploring new or unconventional strategies. 

Appropriate Risk-Taking

Often, some of the best ideas come from risks. That’s how you disrupt the status quo, after all! Trusting your team (and letting them know that you do) means they’re more likely to feel encouraged to break the mold.

And this looks different for everyone! For some, this boldness may be suggesting alternatives to age-old company practices. For others, it could be pitching an edgy marketing campaign. 

Cultivating confidence within staff members is beneficial for everyone. Amazing things can happen when folks know you’ll meet them with grace and kindness (whether or not you agree with their ideas).

Creativity cannot coexist alongside invasive employee monitoring practices.

Greater Autonomy

Autonomy doesn’t solely benefit the employee. Your staff should be (and are) capable of working independently. With mutual trust, team members can make decisions alone, take initiative, and problem-solve independently. 

Of course, this doesn’t involve entirely leaving them to their own devices. Strong communication and check-ins are still a must. Your guidance remains crucial to the team! But granting autonomy makes employees feel more valued, helps them develop leadership skills, boosts engagement, and shows them they can trust themselves. Not to mention, it saves time, enhancing productivity. And that’s kind of the point, right? 

Increased Employee Satisfaction and Retention

Skipping the micromanagement and instead showing you value and respect your employees, their ideas, and their abilities is monumental for creating a happy workplace. 

And it’s no surprise that a better work environment leads to increased engagement and employee satisfaction. When folks are truly invested and empowered in their jobs, it creates a sense of purpose necessary for people’s fulfillment. 

So naturally, happy workers make for stronger staff retention.

Supports the Development of New Skills

You know when you’re in a situation where you have no choice but to figure out a solution independently? Often, you learn you’re much more capable than you ever thought. 

This is kind of like that. Except, your employees aren’t alone — they have you. And as a productive leader, you can provide them the trust and permission needed to solve the problem on their own. Chances are, they’ll learn something new. And if not, you can guide them toward developing this new skill. 

Problem-solving isn’t the only scenario where employee trust harbors growth, though. Encouraging your staff to try and fail at things establishes resilience, granting them flexibility supports accountability, and tools like Freedom promote stronger time management, to name a few. 

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Lead With Trust This Year and Find Freedom

The jury’s in: Employee monitoring tools are a no-go for everyone involved. Skip the invasive surveillance approach and try something new! Lead with trust instead. Provide your team with the Freedom app to ditch distractions and boost their time management skills, then pair it with other helpful, empowering practices. Your staff will appreciate the trust, and you’ll be creating a happier, healthier environment that helps everybody thrive. Everyone wins.

Ready to lead with trust? Discover Freedom for Teams now!