How to control your employees in these modern times

Illustration: Studio Fee Overbeeke

Do you really trust your employees? Do your employees really trust you? The fashion is, to communicate that you really trust your people, and that you are more a servant leader, leading from behind, than an authoritarian charismatic leader, that people should follow. Your personal coach has said it more than one time: back off! Do not tell your people what to do, but listen, reflect, and inspire them with your vision. The reality is difficult. There are many people you do not trust, and in your view many of your people are lazy by nature, and they only start moving when you kick their ass.

How can you control your people, and look modern and people focused at the same time?

10 ways to control your people in these modern times

1. Select obedient people

Having an obedient workforce makes your life easier. Obedient people need less control. With today’s technology, it has become easier to select obedient people. Pick you top 10% most obedient people in your workforce, as well as the 10% least obedient, the mavericks that make your life miserable, but who you are afraid to fire. Give both groups a series of personality tests, and analyse where the results differentiate between the groups. Make sure all candidates have to conduct the test, and only hire the people with a high OQ (Obedience Quotient).

2. Use advanced tracking devices

There are several ways to track your employees, almost 24/7. With little Wi-Fi spots in the lamps, you can track where they are sitting. If you put a tracker in the company badge, you know how people are moving through the organisation, and who is conspiring against you with whom. Of course, people should be aware that you have installed the tracker and please ask their permission. Play the trust card (“Trust is our number one value!”) and tell them you want to use the results to improve the “employee experience”.

3. Analyse their e-mails

Text sentiment analysis is moving fast. There are nice tools, you can use to analyse the e-mails in your organisation and get an idea about the mood in the different departments. Unfortunately, the providers will refuse to report back on individual level but having the mood per department already helps. You know, which areas to avoid, when you are managing by wondering around (your favourite management practice).

4. Tear down those walls

Open Space and a lot of glass is ideal. You do not have to leave your designated area, to be able to control what your people are doing. Do not stare, do not use binoculars, and exercise your stewardess smile (“I am here to serve you”).

5. Install self-managed teams

Get rid of your middle managers and install self-managed teams. Hire an holacracy coach and declare that from now on your organisation is a holacracy, or a teal organisation, or both. There are many benefits. Your life will become a lot easier without all the middle managers, who want something from you all the time. In a holacracy, people will control each other continuously, so you have kind of delegated control. If major problems occur, they will come to you anyway. And, of course, you will be seen as a very enlightened CEO.

6. Use OKR

OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results. It is a method, to align what departments, teams and individuals are doing in the organisation. Many modern organisations, like Google and LinkedIn, are using OKR, so it will not be a difficult sell. OKR comes with full transparency, so after implementation you can monitor everybody through the OKR dashboard. Only challenge: how do you disguise your personal OKR?

7. Religiously promote the company purpose

Without a good purpose, you do not get far these days. Spend some money on consultants, and with their help you will be able to create a compelling purpose. The purpose is the “why” of your organisation. Be careful: the concept is heavily promoted by consultants, as they can earn good money in the purpose business, especially for companies where the “why” is not so clear. A good one is “To improve the health and happiness of the world”, you might even be able to use it, as I am sure it is true for your organisation as well, in a certain way… When you have the purpose, you can use it to better control your employees. When you see things you do not like, say it does not fit the purpose. Remove blockers, by stating they were not living the values and the purpose. Recently I overheard a CEO saying: “Help, my purpose is itching!”. When you have reached that state, you have gone too far. In any case: avoid showing Daniel Pink video’s, people have seen enough of those.

8. Rename your CHRO to Chief Happiness Officer

Do you care if your employees are happy? Probably not, as long as they deliver and do not leave too soon. But happiness (pronounce as “happinezzz”) is the fashion, and you will have to adapt. Now this is a good opportunity to harass your CHRO. Ask her to change the job title to “Chief Happiness Officer”. If this does not work, settle for “Chief Employee Experience”. Make clear, that happiness of the workforce is your number 1 priority, and that the main KPI for the CHO will be “Employee Happiness”. Ask for quarterly reports in the management team (that you have just reduced to yourself and the CFO).

9. Invest in people analytics

“Measuring is knowing”. If you have to make one investment, you have to invest in people analytics capabilities. You are already gathering people data from different sources (the Wi-Fi spots, the trackers in the badges, the email analysis). Add a modern pulse survey and distract data from your HRIS and ATS. With all this data, you can learn a lot about your people, and there will be ample ammunition for action.

10. Promote the use of coaches

As said, the wellbeing and happiness of your workforce, is your number one priority. As development is high on the wish list of people, offer your leadership team and your high potentials personal coaching. They can choose one of the coaches of the company shortlist. Just make sure, the chief coach is your coach, and that concerns regarding loyalty and stability are flagged to you. Alternative: ask one of the global executive search companies to assess your global leadership team and high potentials. Not cheap, but they will certainly report the main people risks back to you.

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