Employee management is a broad term that encompasses every aspect of managing, developing, and interacting with your employees. The goal is to give your team members every tool and advantage necessary to help them achieve their goals so your company reaches its corporate goals.
Keys Areas of Employee Management
We can break employee management down to six key areas: hiring, measuring, interacting, developing, rewarding, and disciplining. Effective employee management will require your adherence to all six areas, as each one builds on the next. A misstep in any one area could snowball.
Effectively managing your employees begins before you hire. To get off on the right foot, your job description must provide clear and detailed information about the job you need to fill. Listing mandatory qualifications can help you weed out unqualified candidates.
When hiring, look for a job applicant who checks off as many of your qualifications as possible. No one will be perfect, but the more boxes an employee checks, the smoother your experience managing them.
For each position you have in your company, you must understand the key metrics for that role—the items that make someone successful. Measuring an employee’s performance based on these metrics allows for a fair assessment of their work.
Evaluating each employee’s performance regularly helps your team get feedback to make adjustments in their work and helps you ensure you’re getting maximum output from every employee. There is a fine line between effective performance tracking and micromanagement, which we will touch on later. Communicating with your team about how you grade their performance and then grading on those exact metrics goes a long way toward being seen as a fair manager.
Effective employee management doesn’t involve just conducting performance reviews. As a manager, you must be in tune with your team and that means having an open and consistent line of communication with them.
Regularly do the following:
- Communicate job expectations
- Provide positive feedback
- Give constructive criticism
This doesn’t mean you constantly stand over their shoulders. The more important thing is to explain why employees should do things, rather than telling them how. That’s a big difference between an effective manager and a micromanager.
- Effective managers tell employees why they need to do something
- Micromanagers tell employees how to do something
Employee turnover is both painful and costly. Your success depends on increasing your employee retention, and developing your employees is one way to achieve that goal. Through effective employee development, you can help your team learn new skills, giving them the development they seek. Having new and advanced skills without hiring a single new employee is an excellent benefit for your company.
In this way, effective employee management focuses more on the coaching aspect. Seeing an employee’s potential allows you to assist them in gaining new skills that not only benefit them but also your company. The more you invest in your employees, the more loyal they will be to you.
Many managers lean toward correcting bad behavior or only speaking with employees when a job or task was done improperly. This is a poor approach and will lead to your employees equating any conversation with you as a negative one.
You must provide positive feedback when things go well. I don’t mean you need to throw a party every time an employee gets a task done right and on time. What I mean is that you need to recognize hard work, effort, and collaboration. A simple “nice job” or “I really appreciate your effort on this project” can go a long way and may help soften those more unpleasant conversations.
While no one’s favorite part of being a manager, disciplining employees is crucial to keeping your team on track. Disciplining takes many forms but usually revolves around progressive corrections. This means that you increase the level of reprimand for each instance of poor behavior or poor work performance.
Be sure that you follow your company’s progressive discipline policy so you’re treating all employees fairly. It’s unpleasant to have a conversation with an employee who is underperforming, but I find it serves two purposes:
- You can help the underperforming employee correct their actions and chart a path for their success.
- You send a message to the rest of your team that you will not tolerate poor performance or unacceptable behavior.
If you need more guidance on how to handle an employee’s poor performance, check our tips for employee discipline.
Why You Need to Manage Employees
You are the eyes and ears of the organization, helping each employee understand their piece of the corporate puzzle. Additionally, effective team management benefits your company as a whole.
Managing employees provides numerous benefits to your organization, including cost savings from higher efficiency and increased retention. When employees are properly managed, they are less likely to leave your company. This results in a reduced time commitment, energy expenditure, and cost to replace them. If you currently have high turnover, employee management may help you address the root cause of the problem.
Proper employee management also helps with engagement. A disciplinary action can either leave an employee angry, or it can reassure them they are valued members of the team. But even for employees who just witness poor work performance, when they see you take action, that incentivizes them to continue putting their best work forward.
Tools to Manage Your Employees
Employee management is a core component of your company’s performance management system. This system will include tools to help you effectively manage your team to ensure maximum efficiency.
Keeping tabs on when employees are working is vital to your company’s cost management as well as the effective management of your team. Specifically for hourly employees, you need to know exactly how many hours they work each week. Using tools for this will make payroll much smoother.
For some employees, even in remote environments, attendance is an issue. It’s important to correct behaviors like showing up late. Without software to determine when employees clock in and out, you won’t know whether your workers are running late or cutting their hours short.
For more information, check our guide to the eight best time and attendance software.
Monitoring the performance of your employees is one of the most important tasks for a manager. We’re not talking about micromanaging or computer tracking software, though those are options (but not recommended).
Effective performance monitoring includes the use of data to help you gauge an employee’s effectiveness. This may include spreadsheets that you manually complete (not recommended) or software that automates data collection for you. Either way, you need to know if your employees are doing quality work. In my opinion, one of the worst things a manager can do is confront an employee about their poor performance with no evidence to back up their claims. By monitoring performance, you have the data you need to have these conversations.
Check out the top performance management systems we recommend.
HR management software is another crucial component of effective employee management. From payroll to benefits administration, this software will give both you and your employees a central point for all data.
Good HR management software will also provide a confidential location for your employees’ personnel files. This is where you would keep performance reviews and documentation of any disciplinary actions. This information is best kept in a centralized, confidential location to meet legal requirements for document storage.
I am a huge proponent of good project management software. Being able to reduce a massive project to individual tasks and see the workload placed on each team member is invaluable.
A good project management software allows you to see each employee’s daily task list and how these tasks contribute to larger projects. You can easily assign duties and move due dates as projects move. Most of these tools also provide you with detailed reporting so you can see if any employee is missing deadlines that may affect future deadlines on a project.
Tips on How to Manage Employees
Employee management is a constantly evolving process. But there are certain constants that remain necessary for a solid foundation of effective employee management.
Communicate Clearly & Often
Never shut employees out. Sure, they may not need to know the intricacies of the company budget, but as it relates to their daily duties, make sure they see why their piece of the puzzle is important.
The best way to do this is to keep open lines of communication. This applies whether you are working in the same office and speaking face to face or if you have a remote-first company and communicate via other means. Your employees will thank you by being more loyal, engaged, and efficient.
This is hard for many managers and small business owners to hear. Study after study consistently shows that when employees are given the tools to do their job and then trusted to do so, they perform at higher levels and more efficiently. Micromanaging employees has the opposite effect.
When you hire an employee, you must trust them to do the job. While you should train and guide them on the steps to take to accomplish the job, you should also believe that they can determine the individual steps as needed. If you don’t trust them to do the job, they may be the wrong employee.
Tip: Micromanagement is not avoiding feedback altogether. Rather, it is allowing employees to do the job you hired them to do. Check out our guide on how to be a good manager for more tips.
Give Fair Feedback
Providing both positive and negative feedback to employees is part of your job. It may not be your favorite, but it is still a crucial component of employee management.
With every employee, be fair. If, for example, you are discussing an employee’s repeated tardiness, mention that it violates your company policy to be late. Also ask if there’s anything you can do to help. Maybe they were having car issues or had a sick child. It is possible that they have a perfectly good reason for their tardiness and, by being fair to them, you demonstrate your flexibility.
Understand Legal Issues
Managers are the front lines of ensuring a company adheres to employment laws and must understand how to follow them. Otherwise, your business could face serious legal consequences.
You cannot discriminate against employees based on:
- National origin
- Immigration status
- Genetic information
If you are disciplining employees who fall into one of the above protected classes but other poor performing employees are not receiving the same treatment, you could open yourself up to legal liability for workplace discrimination.
You must take care to ensure that you treat each employee fairly and equally. That’s why it is in your best interest to have clear employee management policies and procedures in place for you to follow each time. This can help you avoid legal scrutiny and claims of workplace discrimination.
Above all, remember: What you do for or to one employee, do for or to all. Have a policy and rigorously stick to it.
Managing employees is a stressful job. You’re trying to motivate your employees to get the work done efficiently and accurately while also managing their expectations. No manager or company has mastered this process, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
Make sure that you are doing everything you can to build loyalty and trust with your employees by communicating openly and clearly with them. The best managers are more like coaches, providing both positive and constructive feedback while developing their employees’ skills through effective employee management.