With the rise of remote work, many employers are turning to a new tool to drive productivity – employee tracking software.

In fact, a recent survey showed that 60% of organizations with remote workers now use these tools to monitor their employees and track productivity.

It all sounds great on paper…

But in reality, it’s never going to permanently drive performance.

Even worse, it usually makes employee performance WORSE!

If we’re serious about putting people at the center of your business, this isn’t the way to do it!

I understand the impulse to track your team members. Leading teams in a remote environment can be stressful and make you feel like you’re not in control. But tracking software isn’t the answer – here’s why.

Are You Treating the Symptom, or Are You Treating the Problem?

Employee tracking software is advertised as giving you a better understanding of just how productive every team member is – but does it really?

And even if it did, are you treating the problem, or is it just treating the symptom?

Have you asked WHY your team members aren’t doing their job before you start trying to fix the problem by forcing them into compliance?

Lets face it, if large portions of your team members aren’t doing their jobs or delivering the right results, you have bigger problems than tracking software can fix.

You either have the wrong people, the wrong leaders, or both!

It’s easy to blame it on your team and say the underperformers are “just lazy.”

But what if they feel unmotivated because they never get credit for their achievements?

What if team members aren’t putting in discretionary effort because they already feel like their boss dislikes them or underappreciates them…and nothing they do is going to change that?

What if the team members that you see as underperforming believe they’re doing an exceptional job – because you never communicated different expectations? I have had this happen multiple times over the years – and you probably have too!

If you have widespread performance issues, look at the common denominator. The problem is very possibly the way you are hiring people, or the way you are leading them.

It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s the truth. I had to learn that lesson the hard way!

The Damage You Cause Along the Way

The other aspect to consider here is the damage you cause when you implement employee tracking software.

When your people find out they are being monitored – and they will, sooner or later – they’ll learn that you don’t trust them at all.

If you did, you wouldn’t feel the need to track their performance or activity. That does serious damage to morale, your relationships, and just leaves people uninspired to give you their best.

Additionally, it puts people under stress and pressure to constantly hit arbitrary metrics of “performance.”

What if someone takes longer to do their job because they’re spending more time with customers…but as a result your software shows them “lagging” behind key performance metrics?

There are many stories of employees being penalized for going above and beyond in a way that is poorly reflected if you’re only looking at the numbers.

In short, when you implement this software, you might damage your relationship with your employees in a way you may never be able to fix.

In doing so, you’re undermining performance even further…rather than delivering any real solution to your performance challenges!

A Better Way

So if you’re worried about performance or struggling with performance, what’s a better way to address the issue?

The first thing to do is make sure you’re setting the right expectations.

Communicate very clear expectations about what you expect from each team member.. What results do you expect and by when?

When someone struggles to meet the clearly defined expectation…have a conversation with the person in question about what is happening.

Hold the conversation not from a place of judgement, but from understanding. Seek to understand why things aren’t working out. Ask the team member why it’s happening. Ask open-ended questions – questions that can’t be answered with a “yes” or “no.”

You can’t fix performance issues until you understand WHY they’re occurring. If you jump to conclusions or are quick to assign blame, you’re only getting farther from a solution.

Once you have a better understanding of why someone isn’t performing, you can start coaching them on how to fix it – OR look at yourself and see how you can adjust your leadership to support their success.

And remember…if you can’t coach them up, the next best thing is to coach them out to a competitor!

You Can’t Solve Performance by Tracking People

Employee tracking software is just the new version of the boss who breathes down their employees’ necks every day.

You may see marginal, temporary gains in performance once employees realize they’re being watched…

But is it really worth the damage you do to your relationships and morale?

And wouldn’t you rather drive performance by setting clear expectations, and coaching team members to become the best version of themselves?

Just because tracking software is easy doesn’t make it the right thing to do. Just because everyone’s doing it doesn’t make it the right thing either.

Driving performance by a different path isn’t always easy. But nobody said building great teams was going to be a cake walk!