12 August 2014

Maybe it’s because we run such an eccentric business, but I’m always shocked to hear about companies with management methods more suited to Dickens’ time! Those businesses where employees have to ask permission to go to the toilet and you’re timed logging in and out of the phone system. It’s like the equivalent of a battery hen farm for humans.

micromanageFor me, micromanagement is the worst style of management. When it comes to measuring employee performance, if you’re standing over people’s shoulders, you run the risk of stifling their creativity. So how do you go about tracking productivity?

The answer is down to choosing the right people for your business and creating a strong culture where everyone is aligned and moving in the same direction. A really well put together team manages itself. I learnt this as a young man playing rugby, where a good team will self-police when it’s not doing well. There’s always someone to your left or right to say, “We need to step it up a gear.” I think it’s the same in business.

With UKFast, I have key indicators that I’ll take into account to assess overall performance, but the managers of each team will look at individual performances, which is why there are no more than six people in each team – so that nobody slips under the radar.

As a business, we use competitions like the current ‘tech 10’, which shows the individuals who have provided the best customer service each week. It’s calculated using several pieces of information, including time spent on the phone with clients and Net Promoter Score (NPS). The top ten tech support superstars receive rewards such as nights out and trips abroad. That being said, we don’t punish people at the bottom of the chart. In fact, we often find that raising the bar at the top inspires others to catch up with or even overtake the highest achievers.

Another important factor here is honesty. Expect your team to put their heart and soul into their jobs. If you’re not sure about somebody’s performance, ask them a straightforward question, such as, “Is there anything you need from us to help you in your role?” Often, you’ll get an honest answer. It’s the only way to address any problems and move forward. People at the coalface often know more than you so let them be the yardstick for your business.

I would rather have a happy team than one that felt they couldn’t think for themselves. Our small team has outperformed others that are bigger simply because they feel like they are running the business and they embrace that responsibility. In my experience, empowering people always works better than standing over their shoulders and breathing down their necks. Which management style do you prefer?

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