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Management by Observation

As a manager, you are responsible for a group of people and their actions will be a reflection of your management skills. Your failure to keep them together will say so much about your ability, so it is important for you to understand how to get through to your people, so that they can accomplish a lot with you.

Managing a group of people is not going to be easy. Mothers do it, with her children and they can be quite a handful. Teachers do it with their students and they can be a pain. Managers and employers do this every day with their staff and it can be very difficult to do. It is hard to manage people because they have different personalities and they come from different backgrounds. To be able to get through to everyone, you will have to get to know every single person, through and through. Management by observation operates through this virtue. Experts believe that to be able to control a group of people, you have to closely observe them.

Knowing What to Observe

People are given twenty-four hours everyday. Only a portion of this time is allotted to work, and for as long as they are clocked-in, they are your responsibility. These people are expected to perform according to your expectations. They are your team, and therefore, your responsibility, so you should keep an eye on the following:

  • The way they handle themselves. This concerns the manner in which a person dresses, talks, walks, and converses. You are in a workplace, so there is a specific decorum to follow. They should be professional enough to observe that. They should dress appropriately, so as not to ruin the image of the company. They should also behave in the way they are expected to behave.

  • The way they relate with other people. The people in question are their colleagues, their subordinates, the customers or clients, and even you. What kind of relationships do they have with these people? Do they get along with each other? Are they comfortable enough or are they becoming too comfortable for their own good? The relationships that people have with each other are important because this will affect their performance at work.

  • The way they perform every task. Do they do things by the book or do they perform in the way they believe is fit? Are they skilled or merely trying to survive? Are they fast workers or are they procrastinators? These things are important for you to note because you can guide them in order to improve themselves and you can make sure that tasks are better delegated to the person who can truly handle the load.

The Power of Observation

Observation is a scientific process that makes use of a person’s five senses. As a manager, you are encouraged to be very observant because your people have to answer to you and you have to answer to those higher than you. In other words, they are your responsibility. You cannot lead a flock of people if you do not know who they are. By giving yourself some time to get to know your team, you will know their strengths and weaknesses, and your knowledge of these things will be beneficial to you because you will know how to better utilize them for your cause.

By knowing them well, you can inspire them easily. By knowing them, you can appeal to them with ease. People are different, so you cannot assume to know every single one of them, by just looking at one person. You have to take time to observe people. By being observant, you will get a hold of facts and information that you can use.

How to Observe People

If you have decided to use this method of management, you have to know how to use it. Observing people is not just about looking at them. There are some things that you have to know and equip yourself with:

  • It is important that you observe your employees while they are doing their tasks. You can do this in two ways. You can give them a heads up and allow them to prepare for your observation session or observe them without their knowledge.

  • Make a list of the things you want to observe. Observing your people will be some kind of investigatory work and you will need to be able to obtain results that you can use. To get the right results, you have to write down a list of things that you want to find out about them.

  • Set a record or grading scale. To better evaluate your employees, you have to assign a grading scale, which you can use when you look back at the data that you have gathered.

The Significance of Your Observation

You observe your employees because, as their superior, you are responsible for them. The observation process is going to be useful for so many things. You have to understand that you did not just spend time “stalking” your employees for nothing. It serves a bigger purpose:

  • For evaluation: It is customary for superiors to submit evaluations of their people, after a specific period of time. Evaluations are used for all sorts of things and since the Human Resources Department takes these forms seriously, you cannot just invent what you have to say. Your input should be a product of thorough observation and study.

  • For promotion: If you are looking to promote someone in your team to a specific position and you do not know whom to pick, or you are eyeing a specific person and you do not know if they really qualify, observing them at work will be very helpful for your purpose.

  • For dismissal: If you are receiving complaint after complaint about a person and you are thinking of letting them go, you have to be sure that the person truly deserves to be let go. You observe their work and find proof. You have to see things for yourself and not rely on mere hearsay.

  • For improvement: If you want to build a team according to your ideals, you will observe their performance and take note of all the things that you believe need to be changed. How can you teach them what to do, if you do not know how they work? To be able to criticize, you have to observe. To be able to teach, you first have to learn.

Some people will find it difficult to put others under the spotlight. Some will think that watching people, especially without their knowledge is invading their privacy. As a manager, you have to overcome these thoughts because it is your responsibility to watch your subordinates at work.