Corporate Babysitters

Leaders, what does your hiring process look like?

Personality assessments, skills tests, a look at experience, aptitude tests, EQ scales, reaching out to references, outcomes from previous interactions, exposure to what a candidate can accomplish or execute on — we do so much now to increase the likelihood that a new hire is the right hire.

With all of this upfront investment in making a solid choice, why is it then that some of us make the mistake of thinking that we need to act as a corporate babysitter?

What is corporate babysitting? Here are a few examples:

It’s watching the clock to make sure that your employee is sitting at their desk for a specific number of hours each day.

It’s monitoring or blocking access to social media and online interaction, or even reading new sites, while on ‘your’ time. It’s not allowing them to work from home or perform their duties remotely for fear that they will do something other than what you ‘think’ they should be doing.

It is calculating and tallying up each sick day, each lunch and coffee break, each vacation submission. Asking for very detailed lists and progress reports when they are only part-way through executing on the outcomes we have asked them to produce, then injecting our opinions of how we think they should modify their plans to fit our ideal way of doing things.

It’s micro-managing these incredibly capable adults within an inch of their lives and creating an environment which says “If I can’t physically see you, and ensure that you are doing things in the exact way that I think they should be done, and have access to your delivery process, then I do not trust that you are able to deliver”.

This is corporate babysitting.

It is when you take the time to seek out and hire on the best talent you can afford, and then turn around and insist that they ask your permission to go to the dentist.

How can you move away from this burdensome behaviour, relieving both your workload and their resentment?

  1. Hire great people. Then leave them alone.
    Of course this doesn’t mean that you should do away with KPI’s or benchmarking, or that you should apply a sink or swim approach to leading your team.
    What this does mean, however, is that you have hired awesome adults to contribute to the success of your organization. Does it matter if they took a 90min lunch, but still execute on their objectives? Does it detract in any way from productivity if they are working remotely and still getting things done? 
    The goal in hiring great people is to achieve great outcomes — if you have fulfilled your responsibility in doing the first part, then they should be provided the freedom to fulfill on the second part. And then go to that dentist appointment.
  2. Stop equating # of hours present to successful execution.
    If you have provided an objective and a timeline for completion to your team, are there to support them when obstacles present themselves, and are available to give and receive feedback, then you are behaving like a leader. 
    If your definition of a strong employee is tied to the number of hours that you can physically see them sitting at their desk, then you are behaving like a manager that does not trust them to deliver on their responsibilities. 
    Great employees are able to find creative and innovative ways to get the job done and on time. This may take some individuals 90% of the time allotted, and for others it may take 30% of the time given. Rather than punishing them for doing it effectively and efficiently, insisting that they stay physically present until the very last second of the work day, start to reward them with the gift of self-monitoring.
  3. Treat Your Employees Like the Adults They Are.
    As an adult, when your parents start to ask questions about where you are going, what you are doing, how long you will be, insist you should go to bed earlier, say you’re working to much, that you need to eat better… we all have that feeling of, “Mom! I’m an adult, I got this!.” The same is true when you continually bombard your employees to provide you with every step they take throughout the day. 
    Your job is not to micro-manage every detail and every movement that your team members make. You do not need to lay eyes on them, or chastise them for taking ‘too long’ to chat with a colleague, or control their to-do list.

Unless there is a delivery problem, or timelines are continually missed (at which point a conversation must be had), then let your team do what you have hired them to do. It will open up the levels of trust, increase engagement, and show your employees that you know that they will deliver.

Leaders are allergic to the idea of babysitting their teams, because they know that — just as they are able to perform without a corporate nanny— so are the individuals they have brought on to the team.