The idea of this chapter is twofold. First, for you managers out there, this will provide you with the knowledge you need to successfully counter the slacking tendencies of your employees. Find slacking wherever it exists and terminate it with all due haste. For you slackers, this chapter will introduce you to the tricks your managers use to keep track of you, even if you don’t think they’re really keeping track of you. Know your enemy.
The surprise visit
A manager wouldn’t be a manager if you didn’t keep track of your employees while they’re working. Nothing scares a worker into working like the sudden appearance of a manager in his/her doorway/cubicle/seat across the desk. Here’s how you can always keep your employees on their toes so they never know when to expect you to drop in:
- In cubicle environments, always pace around the office, peeking in on the workers. Take this stroll at least once a day, and every day randomly pick one hapless employee to “see how they’re doing.” (See Conversation Tricks below.)
- For the evil manager with cubicles, walk around all the time. This will really stress your employees because they know they won’t be able to slack in your presence. Of course, do check what the employees are doing as you’re walking around and lay the smackdown on any slackers.
- You don’t even have to do this in person. Call your employees on the phone for a weird twist on this method. This is just a mind game, nothing more.
- In offices, this is much more difficult to do because you have to be very blatant about walking in to see what the employee is doing. Try doing this a couple of times a week with each employee. If the employee has deployed a defensive office strategy, be certain to walk all the way around the desk before talking with him.
Once you are talking to your mindless drones, you need to be certain that they’re giving you honest answers. Here is some advice for getting the truth out of your employees.
- First, lull the employee into a sense of security by making small talk about his/her personal life. “How’s the wife?” or a simple “What’s been going on (outside work)?” will suffice, but make sure to keep it up for at least half a minute.
- Next, bring up the general work question: “How’s the project/task/etc. going?” Jump on any hesitation or waffling answers.
- Specifics are next. If you have domain knowledge of the employee’s task, take programming, then ask them about the specific duties they’ve been doing lately. Always ask to see evidence of the progress of their work.
- Give the employee a new task. Tell her to finish it within a week and get back to you with the results. This will really put the employee on edge, but at least you’ll know whether or not she’s doing the work.
Of course, conversation tricks are no substitute for other forms of monitoring your employees.
Dirty tricks for dirty people
So you suspect your employee is seriously slacking and you need a way to find out whether or not that’s the case. Try these tips, but only after getting approval from people up the food chain or otherwise sufficiently cover your ass.
- Install spyware on your slacker’s computer. Try BackOrifice or VNC or PCAnywhere or similar software. That way you can check out what’s on their desktop at any time.
- Cameras, microphones, and other surveillance equipment never fail as long as they’re hidden in a sufficiently surreptitious location.
- Hire other employees as your informants. Pay well and you’ll get good info. Be careful not to get into a bidding war with other employees trying to pay off your informant and mislead you with false information.
And for you drones out there who might be the target of such tactics, just remember that it can work both ways, significantly to your advantage.