In The Workplace

Our management fully understands the daily hassles of commuting and wants to implement a flextime schedule for our employees. Our workers can come in as early as 7 a.m. and clock out at 4 p.m. How do we ensure that they will be as productive in the absence of supervisors closely monitoring their work? — Totem Pole.

Trust begets trust. Regardless of your work schedule, treat your workers as your own sons and daughters who can be trusted anytime, even without close supervision. I know. I was in the same boat when I was a working student. Flextime was not yet in vogue but I was accorded a special arrangement to work between the hours of 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. so I can attend night classes.

Our management was kind to me and I didn’t want to be ungrateful. Of course, that’s me. Not everyone can be like that. I’ve tested it more than hundreds of times with my direct reports over a more than 30 years when I was active in the corporate world. My lesson was simple. If management grants flexibility to employees, they will reciprocate positively.

It’s human nature. Without trust in any personal or professional relationship, it’s almost impossible to progress. Outside of a trustworthy work relationship, you can develop a company-wide program with a robust performance management system that ensures labor productivity is maximized.

Close supervision can only go so far. In fact, line executives who micromanage their workers often do worse. The trick is to understand the ability of the workers to perform their best without coercion or compulsion. Some managers may think of this as counterintuitive but not if you have a robust performance management system that may not require micromanagers.

There’s no better way to monitor employee performance than with a dynamic appraisal system that ensures all employee efforts are focused on meeting, if not exceeding management expectations, and that mutually agreed goals are consistently being met in an effective and efficient manner.

Going back to the situation you described above; how do we ensure that employees who work as early as 7 a.m. are doing what’s expected of them? One easy answer is to require them to submit the results of their work starting at 8:30 a.m. or whatever time normal operating hours start.

You must also set up your company’s performance management system along these lines:

One, set mutually agreeable performance expectations. There are many approaches to this. You can use the daily SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound) as one approach. Employees who have opted to work between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. must be held accountable for delivering their SMART results. These are working parameters that are to be done and evaluated daily.

Two, measure performance and provide feedback. This must be done consistently, not necessarily to evaluate worker performance but to include discussions on their challenges and milestones. Ongoing monitoring can be done with the help of applications found in your basic software.

Three, develop an opportunity to define training needs. Through a dynamic appraisal system, management can readily understand employee deficiencies in terms of skills, abilities, competencies and other behavioral requirements. If not, you can also decide if the person is fit for that current work assignment. Consider arranging an intra- or inter-department transfer.

Four, summarize performance over a certain period. This is easy to do if the frequency is monthly, unless circumstances warrant weekly or semi-monthly evaluations. Whatever the frequency, arrange a face-to-face interaction and be as casual as possible. Avoid formalities, which stifle open communication.

Last, recognize above-average performance. Reward and recognize the deserving, whether by written commendation, plaque of appreciation, merit pay, promotion, even brief study tours overseas that are fully funded by international organizations. However, this option requires that you stage a competitive application process.

Some managers think that the process described above is time-consuming. That’s true. But the truth of the matter is, micromanagement is not only time-consuming but devastating as well to the morale of your direct reports. There’s no other way. Once you’ve established the foundational policies and processes, the time needed to administer it will fall over the long term.

Like all management programs, the active participation and cooperation of all workers must be secured for best results. You can only do this with the help of regular engagement dialogues. One caveat though. Understand that not all jobs can be measured objectively. If such cases, try to discover other ways to measure employee performance.


Bring Rey Elbo’s leadership program called “Superior Subordinate Supervision” to your line supervisors and managers. Contact him via Facebook, LinkedIn, X (Twitter) or e-mail or via