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How to Monitor Staff Performance? Top 7 Tips for Managers

(Updated April 2024)

Say there are team members underperforming in your organisation, do you watch them like a hawk throughout the day or put measures in place to monitor their performance?

The second option is definitely a more effective way to turn your employees into high-performing superstars.

Rather than waiting for an annual review or jotting down endless notes, here are 7 ways to monitor staff performance to get the best out of everyone.

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Jump Straight to:

What is Staff Performance Monitoring?

Monitoring the performance of your staff means using specific methods to identify whether employees are completing their tasks effectively and to a high standard. It is essential to monitor employee performance to ensure that they are aligned with the organisation's goals and objectives.

In recent years, there has been a significant rise in employee monitoring. This is largely because of the growing number of employees now working remotely. This allows managers to virtually track employee performance, online activity and even mouse movements. 

Examples of Staff Performance Monitoring:

  • Website activity - which websites employees are visiting and how long are they spending there
  • How long employees take on tasks - this can be monitored through specific tools or even screenshots every ten minutes of employees' screens
  • Mouse movements - how active employees are during certain times
  • Use of emails
  • Quality of work 
  • Percentage of tasks completed
  • Recording or listening to work phone calls or meetings

Before your organisation starts monitoring staff performance, it's important to ensure you comply with The Data Protection Act 2018. With the data you track, where will you store it? What will you do with it? These are all viable questions to take into account before you make any moves. 

Why Monitor Staff Performance?

"Nearly 80% of major companies now monitor employees’ use of e-mail, Internet, or phone, and 94% of organisations deploy some method of monitoring users and 93% monitor access to sensitive data."

Successfully monitoring staff performance allows managers and key stakeholders to gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of their staff's work and identify areas for improvement in processes or resource allocation.

5 Benefits of Monitoring Staff Performance for Organisations:

  1. Helps managers and HR identify skills gaps
  2. Improves employee engagement, productivity, motivation and well-being across teams
  3. Identifies performance issues which could be leading to wider organisational issues
  4. Helps provide more appropriate feedback
  5. Provides insights into the progress of projects

Although there can be many benefits of monitoring staff performance for the organisation, it can also come at a cost and may even backfire.

3 Cons of Staff Performance Monitoring for Organisations

  1. Break employee trust: If your employees feel you're sneakily going around spying on them, they'll lose trust and potentially become disengaged. 
  2. Lack of transparency: If your organisation does decide to start monitoring staff performance, let your employees know exactly what will be monitored and how often, e.g. which websites they've visited
  3. Employees may be more likely to break rules

A study by Harvard Business Review of more than 100 US workers, found that those monitored employees were more likely to "take unapproved breaks, disregard instructions, damage workplace property, steal office equipment, and purposefully work at a slow pace, among other rule-breaking behaviours."

But what causes this? They uncovered that those employees subconsciously felt less responsible for their own conduct, which makes them less responsible. Or, a number of those employees blamed the organisation's monitoring on the reasons for their behaviour. 

7 Ways to Monitor Your Staff Performance and Increase Motivation

  1. Use a Monitoring Software
  2. Check-in Regularly
  3. Set Targets
  4. Implement Self-Monitoring Tools
  5. Ask Around a Little
  6. Analyse and Reward
  7. Involve Them

1. Use Monitoring Software

One of the most effective ways to monitor staff performance is to utilise software designed to do just that. It allows you to track activities and analyse data regarding the tasks staff complete during the day. Having this platform can not only reveal who’s struggling and needs support but also detect backlogs and improve team-wide productivity.

To motivate your team, emphasise the use of a leaderboard featured in many monitoring software tools. There’s no harm in adding a little healthy competition between your staff.

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How to Use an Employee Monitoring Software Effectively

Some studies have suggested that some employees have expressed concerns about the increase in monitoring, especially now a large percentage of staff work from home multiple days each week. According to a survey by Capterra, there are five top concerns among UK employees when it comes to employee monitoring:

  • Invasion of personal privacy
  • Negative impact on trust
  • Increased stress from staff
  • Negative impact on morale
  • Staff feel pressured to work extra hours

To move from this, employers need to ensure that trust is built around these monitoring tools. This can be done by following the correct GDPR regulations and by showing the positive impact these tools can have on the organisation and employee objectives. 

2. Check in Regularly

If you’re monitoring staff performance, it’s likely you’ve already taken steps to manage poor performances constructively with the relevant employee.

From time to time, check in at an unscheduled time so you can assess their productivity. Checking in more regularly and spontaneously, outside your scheduled performance reviews is highly important for a more accurate picture of how they're performing with current tasks or projects.

Further, assessing staff productivity goes hand-in-hand with being mindful about their mental health. Checking in provides also a good way for them to realise you care and are there for support.

Discover strategies to improve communication in the workplace.

3. Set Targets

To monitor performance and productivity, sit with each team member and set realistic goals. These could be either individual, departmental or team-wide goals. These targets not only show you how productive everyone is depending on if they reach the goals, but it’s also an easy way to motivate everyone to reach their full potential.

Setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for productivity can help measure and improve employees performance. For example, these can help your organisation identify potential problems, resource availability and process effectiveness. Some commonly used KPIs for employee productivity include:

  • Projects completed
  • Overtime hours
  • Team performance
  • Effectiveness ratio/employee efficiency
  • Turnover
  • Quality of work

Ultimately, the more targets you set based on performance, the more motivated your staff members will be to do better than last time.

Learn how to build your own high-performing team.

4. Implement Self-Monitoring Tools

Sometimes, the way to increase motivation and see if staff members really want to excel is to let them monitor themselves and their performances.

Implementing checklists, and activity logs and creating schedules helps them build the initiative to do well. Not only that, but it also increases engagement and a personal drive to succeed. Time-management tools like Asana and Trello can help employees track their tasks, and deadlines and collaborate more efficiently across different departments. 

Giving employees self-monitoring tools for the long run helps them pick up new skills, such as time management, problem-solving, accountability and more. 

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5. Ask Around a Little

You don’t need to gather intelligence regarding every step your staff members take throughout their day. Receiving feedback from colleagues and other managers about their interactions with specific employees regarding their work performances can be insightful. It’s not a case of asking for a performance evaluation, but a description of how well they did in a task or project.

You obviously can’t monitor employees yourself all the time, so asking a handful of people can help you get a better understanding.

Top tip: Implementing an effective 360-degree feedback process will provide employees with diverse feedback from across the organisation, providing a more balanced view of their performance and promoting accountability. Read more about what a 360-Degree Feedback Process entails.

6. Analyse and Reward

If you notice your employees are performing much better, reward them and give them recognition. This sends a clear message on how they’re valued and their performances haven’t gone unnoticed.

If you make this a habit where it’s deserved, it can motivate employees to work to a higher standard because they’re appreciated.

Bonus: Provide professional and personal learning and development training that employees and the organisation would benefit from

If you're unsure what development training would be best for the organisation and employees, why not let us conduct a free skills gap analysis for you? Our team knows the ins and outs of training strategies and how to get employees involved. Check your eligibility for our free skills gap analysis with the button below.

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7. Involve Them

Shutting out employees and not getting them involved in monitoring their performance won’t motivate them. If they’re underperforming, sit with them to help find the root cause and then come up with solutions on how to turn performances around. You could set goals together or organise regular meetings to catch up about recent performances.

Not only does this make you more approachable, it means employees are more likely to be motivated as it is clear you want their performances to improve and aren’t making big rash decisions.

Monitoring staff might be the easy part, but what can be difficult is communicating with staff members about why they’re under the microscope in the first place. Your approach is key and these conversations can equip you with the skills you need for potentially difficult conversations in the future.

To help, our range of leadership, management and strategy courses will help you develop a positive team culture, create effective strategy planning and lots more. Secure your place to avoid missing out. 

Improve Your Communication Skills With Our Handbook

In the handbook, you’ll find information on how to communicate with your team effectively, tips on improving public speaking, presentation tactics and more. Whatever situation you’re in, you’ll receive guidance on how using the right communication methods will help.

To get your free copy, click on the link below.

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Chloe Martin
Content Editor

2+ years in SEO and content marketing. Striving to help public sector professionals develop their skills and learn something new through high-quality content.