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Weekly Reports and Other Ways to Keep Track of Your Employees

Often your employees will run into problems and may be too shy or not have enough initiative to communicate them to you. If kept unchecked, this may lead to frustration, feelings of being trapped or worse. Here are some effective ways I found to avoid such issues, based on my experience from some of my previous workplaces.

The first is to ask every employer to submit a weekly report: of what they have accomplished that week, what they plan to finish the next week, which problems they have run into, and what help they think they need. This report can be sent to their manager or supervisor, but they should feel free to send a carbon copy to their peers.

Another method that I came up with, is to have an interactive multi-way Internet-based channel/“chat-room” where all the team’s employees can talk and chat. This can be implemented using a dedicated IRC (= Internet Relay Chat), using the more modern XMPP protocol, and possibly using such dedicated proprietary solutions such as the now disbanded “IBM Workplace”. By chatting online about their work (and other stuff) and keeping logs of the conversations, one can get a feel for what the employees are feeling.

Finally, it is a good idea to try to ask your employees once in a while what they feel or if they’ve run into any problems. Often, a different person can provide a fresh perspective on how to things and come up with creative solutions for how to solve their problems.

Naturally, I’m not suggesting going to extremes such as monitoring your employees every move (as Joel Spolsky notes in his “Two Stories” (about Microsoft and Juno) essay), much less installing keystroke loggers or otherwise violating your employees’ privacy. But it would be a good idea to keep abreast of the problems they run into and see how you can solve them.