Discussion: Automatically Logging Keystrokes

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Discussion: Automatically Logging Keystrokes

Discussion: Automatically Logging Keystrokes

85How Information Technology Changes the Nature of Work

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It is important for a firm to choose the right type of control for each position being supervised. Behavior controls make the most sense for physical labor in which incorrect particular body movements might be inefficient or even dangerous. Programmers would consider it quite insulting to have a supervisor exercise action control and watch every keystroke whereas transcriptionists might understand the need to track each keystroke. Outcome controls make more sense not only for programmers but also for many other personnel, such as engineers, sales managers, and ad writers. However, personnel controls are more useful when it would take several years to evaluate the results of work, which is often the case when goals are indefinable, conflicting, or confusing and the stakes are high. For instance, when Apple was having difficulty defining a meaningful product line in the mid‐1990s, the firm resorted to personnel controls when it determined that the right way to redefine its mission was to bring back Steve Jobs. After two decades, hindsight shows that Jobs was the right choice. Personnel controls are useful for situations in which it is difficult not only when to expect results but also to define what results should even be expected.

When the results of work are fairly well defined, technology can change dramatically how it is monitored. One technological solution, electronic employee monitoring (introduced in Chapter 3), can replace direct supervision and provide detailed behavior controls, automatically logging keystrokes, listing the Web sites visited, or even recording the contents of an employee’s screen. Technology can also provide outcome controls by tracking the number of calls processed, e‐mail messages sent, or time spent surfing the Web. When output is monitored digi- tally, pay‐for‐performance compensation strategies reward employees for deliverables produced or targets met as opposed to vague subjective factors such as “attitude” or “teamwork.” Further, supervisors can spend time coaching, motivating, and planning rather than personally monitoring performance because they can utilize the information gathered from electronic monitoring systems for that task. The introduction of BlueWork at American Express illus- trates the need to change from an approach in which managers watch employees and count the hours they spend at their desks to one that focuses instead on the work they actually do. These changes are summarized in Figure 4.3.


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