How to Monitor the Performance of an Employee

Monitoring employees in the workplace is an important part of a manager's day-to-day schedule. It's completely inefficient to assign work and assume it will get done exactly as you expect it to without ever checking in with your employees. Although employees do need to speak up when they encounter a problem, sometimes employees won't realize they're on the wrong track until you check their progress and provide feedback. Learning different performance management techniques can help increase productivity and employee satisfaction around the workplace.

Visually Monitoring Employees in the Workplace

Depending on the type of work your employees engage in, observing them in action may be the fastest way to gain insight into their performance. Direct observation is even more effective when it happens on a regular basis and when employees aren't necessarily aware of your presence.

Get in the habit of making the rounds throughout the day to gauge everyone's attitudes in order to quickly spot a problem. For example, if someone seems abnormally frustrated, they might need some guidance or assistance. However, you should also regularly shadow your employees for a longer period of time to note whether they have any inefficient habits or weak skills.

Using Task Management Software

Of course, visually monitoring employees in the workplace won't work for remote teams. For these situations, task management software can help you track the progress and performance of your employees.

Task management tools are typically cloud-based so that multiple people can access the same to-do lists and workflows. They come in a variety of different designs, so try out a few popular ones (like or Teamwork) to find one with the features you need to create an efficient workflow. To effectively use these tools for performance management, break tasks down into small to-dos, set realistic due dates, make sure all employees receive automatic notifications and reminders about their tasks, and immediately check in on late tasks.

Spot-Checking Progress on Longer Projects

The only way to tackle a long-term project is to make slow and steady progress, but employees can easily lose momentum and motivation if they encounter numerous roadblocks. Set your team up for success by clearly outlining goals, expectations, and milestones, and hold everyone accountable by letting them know you'll be spot-checking progress and asking for updates on a regular basis.

Exactly how you perform spot checks depends on the work being done and how its progress can be demonstrated. According to, you can schedule standup meetings on a weekly or daily basis for quick progress reports, "walk the floor" to directly observe tangible progress, ask to see the current draft of a presentation, etc.

Spot checks also allow you to keep a finger on the pulse of the the work being done. You'll always know what's being worked on and have an opportunity to take care of problems right away. In addition, spot checks can also motivate employees to come to you with obvious issues quickly, rather than waiting for you to "catch" the problem in a spot check.

Asking the Employee Directly

According to, an often overlooked method for monitoring performance in the workplace involves directly communicating with the employee. Rather than assuming your employees will sugarcoat their own performance, give them an opportunity to share their opinion. You may be surprised at how willingly they express any concerns or frustrations they have about their role and responsibilities.

In terms of performance management in particular, you can pinpoint a performance problem by asking employees to describe the steps they took to reach their current result. Try to get them to share as many details as possible. Did they take shortcuts or completely miss an important step? Reiterate your goals and expectations to help steer them back on course.