Managers earn more money (generally) than individual contributors, because organizing a group of people, managing their work, and being responsible for the results is generally harder than doing the tasks assigned to the contributors. That's fair. But managers often make their work much more difficult than it needs to be. 

Human Resources Executive Jordan George has had enough experience in the people business to know what matters and what doesn't. He came up with the following list of 10 things that managers should just stop worrying about. 

  1. Watching what time people arrive to work
  2. Watching what time people leave work
  3. Watching how long someone's lunch break is
  4. Requiring people to "request" time off
  5. Requiring people tell you why they are requesting time off
  6. Requiring a doctor's note for sick time
  7. Forcing people to work a 9-5 schedule
  8. Forcing people to work a 50-hour week, regularly
  9. Worrying about where or when someone is working
  10. Requiring every minor decision to be run by you first

I just heard some managers begin to sputter "but what about..." and you are right--there are some caveats. George points out that not all of these apply in all situations. In retail or a doctor's office, of course, punctuality is very important. The doors don't open if the store manager isn't there. But, these are good rules to go by, with careful consideration of any possible exceptions.

The real question is, how are people performing? If their performance is top notch, it doesn't matter what time they arrive at the office. (Please note, for non-exempt employees, it is important that they clock in and out and that their time is recorded properly, but most likely it doesn't matter if they clock in at 9:00 or 10:15.) If their performance is in the toilet, it still doesn't matter when they arrive--it matters that their work sucks. 

Naturally, you can address punctuality when you address performance, but it's the performance that's the problem. Punctuality might be a symptom and it might not be. 

With 50-hour work weeks, you can say that's standard in my business. Fine. If it is, you better be 100 percent clear in your job postings and recruiting efforts that that is the case. If your company website brags about "work-life balance" and being "family friendly" and then requires people to work like this, you need to knock it off.

You want people who are engaged and happy in their work. That means they need time to refresh and think about things other than work. Let them have that time.

Basically, you need to let your people work. Manage performance, not actions. Realize that different employees need different levels of support and give what is needed. Don't be a micromanager. Don't give your employees hoops to jump through just because you can. 

You'll find you have more time for your important things when you stop focusing on the little things your staff is doing. Keep a close eye on performance and results and let the other things go.

Published on: Jun 7, 2019
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