As a manager, it’s your job to monitor your employees’ progress on their tasks. This doesn’t mean that you need to stand over them while they’re working. This probably won’t give you a good assessment of what they’re accomplishing anyway. It’s more likely to intimidate them. There are better ways to keep up with worker progress on tasks and goals. These include one-on-one meetings, status reports and reviewing portions of completed work.
Employees need to have private working space away from their managers to feel comfortable doing their work properly. It makes people nervous when they feel like they’re being watched while they work. They get nervous and wonder if they are constantly being evaluated. This can cause stress and make workers less productive.
There are some other reasons that employees need their distance from management. As a manager, you probably have very different things on your agenda than your team members do. You probably have to participate in a variety of conference calls. You need to hold meetings with individual employees. Some of your meetings can easily distract employees. They may overhear information that should be kept confidential.
If you have an office with a door, you can shut it when you’re discussing confidential information. This is a good idea because if employees overhear parts of your discussion, they can jump to conclusions and begin spreading rumors that have little basis in truth. Closed door discussions allow you and employees to have one-on-one discussions that don’t need to be heard by anyone else. If you don’t have an office with a door, find a conference room where you can have private discussions. This is better for everyone because it reduces distractions and protects confidentiality.
Team members need to be free to talk to one another in the office. It shouldn’t be a free for all, but people need time to get to know one another. Team bonding is an important part of building an effective team. Occasional casual conversations, jokes and work stories are commonly shared among employees. This is normal and important for team growth. However, this kind of interaction will be seriously stunted if the manager is too close by. Employees are reluctant to have casual conversations because they don’t want their management to think they are wasting time. Constant talking in the office is a problem if it disturbs other team members but occasional conversations can strengthen relationships.
It’s important to keep in mind that a manager holds a different role as a part of a team. The manager is responsible for worker productivity and can’t be as casual with employees as they are with one another. Some managers struggle with this, especially if they were promoted from within the team. Unfortunately, it’s healthier if there is some distance between managers and their team members. If managers become too close with individual employees, it can be interpreted as favoritism and lead to tension among team members.
On some projects, employees need to think and analyze. Sometimes thinking, researching and analyzing doesn’t exactly look like traditional work. There may be times when it appears the person isn’t doing anything when that is not the case at all. The individual may be doing the kind of deep and creative analysis that you expect from them. This can’t always be done by typing on the computer. It may involve sketching out scenarios on a notepad, organizing thoughts with post-it notes or other similar activities. The problem is that the employee will probably become self-conscious if he or she thinks management is watching. People don’t want to give the impression that they’re being unproductive. However, if this is the kind of work they need to do, it’s important that they have a private place to do it where they won’t feel judged.
It’s easier for you as a manager to have some private space of your own away from the team. You’ll have fewer interruptions which will help you get significantly more work done. Most managers report that interruptions are the biggest barrier to their productivity. You will have more quiet space to do your work. You are much less likely to be distracted by team discussions and banter which means you will get much more done on a daily basis.