In his breakthrough book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Dan Pink articulates the 3 primary drivers of workplace motivation: autonomy, mastery and purpose. Each of these requires a great amount of trust between the employer and the employee.
In general, the more creative your employee’s job, the more critical it is to reinforce this trusting relationship.
I can personally attest to the power of this principle of trust in action in my workplaces, both for good and bad. I’m sure you can as well.
However, as important as trust is to proper motivation, equally important is knowing when NOT to trust your employees.
The answer is simple. Because you don’t have to trust them in certain areas. When trust doesn’t benefit both the employee or the employer, then it should be eliminated. Or at the very least, trust should receive serious attention.
3 Areas Where You Should Never Trust Your Employees
As the old Russian proverb states (made famous by Ronald Reagan during the 80s), “doveryai no proveryai”, “Trust, but verify”. These are the 3 areas where you should be careful not to trust your employees completely:
Perhaps there is no clearer area that requires close supervision than properly maintaining the accounting books for any organization. Hundreds of years have taught us that there is no place for blind trust.
Can you imagine a CEO who gives a CFO full control over a company’s books with no checks and no transparency? The risk for mistakes are high. The temptation for fraud is too great. Obviously, checks and balances are essential. This one is easy. The 2014 Global Fraud Study by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners reveals that accounting is one of the areas where 77% of occupational frauds happen.
I’m guessing I don’t need to convince you here.
2. Customer Service
Your front-line employees are your eyes, ears, and mouthpiece of your business. They represent you, as an owner, manager, or stakeholder to the client. Of any area where trust is required, this one is it! The phrase “Trust, but verify” was tailor-made for this activity. In this case, trust isn’t enough when it comes to this most important task.
Fostering a culture of great customer service starts with ensuring your employees understand the vision of your company, giving them autonomy to succeed, and helping them master essential skills to be effective. Help your employees understand that their success is always made possible by your clients.
However, never allow a single point of failure when it comes to resolving customer service issues. For example, say you are a cleaning company, and you have a customer complaint requiring resolution by one of your employees. Perhaps a bathroom wasn’t cleaned properly the previous night. Make sure there is a mechanism to ensure transparency in the resolution of these types issues. Make sure a manager or supervisor is involved, at least tacitly, in signing off on the resolution. Trust your employee to resolve the issue, but verify that the problem is solved.
In short, as an owner, manager, or stakeholder, you shouldn’t fully entrust the responsibility of delivering excellent customer service to your employees alone. You must ensure that proper training and processes are in place to address customer concerns promptly. Your business will live or die not by whether you and your clients will run into problems, but how these problems are resolved.
3. Employee Time Tracking
Maybe this one isn’t obvious. Let me tell you a story. I was involved with a large company who employed tens of thousands of people throughout the USA and Canada. The front-line work involved manual efforts, and was done far away from the watch of central office at hours that made supervision extremely difficult.
They soon discovered that their employees were improperly rounding their timesheets. In fact, as this company learned the hard way, studies have shown that if an employee is allowed to declare their own start/stop times, they will almost always round in their favor, which can add up to large sums of money.
And these are the honest employees that they trusted. They simply subconsciously rounded in their own favor. Even worse, dishonest employees will steal time adding up to even greater losses. However, what was most egregious was they found their very own supervisors, the ones that were with these workers day in and day out, were creating “ghost employees” that didn’t exist, and collecting their paychecks. The problem was so bad, the supervisors also found ways to beat fingerprint readers by putting ghost employees on multiple of their fingers!
Thankfully, the company found a solution to payroll fraud issues. After implementing modern facial recognition biometric time clocks, they found they were saving millions of dollars per year.
A Forbes article confirms that payroll fraud is a big threat as it happens in 27% of all businesses. What’s worse is it usually lasts for around 36 months. It means that when something like this happens to your organization, you will be overpaying existing employees or paying ghost employees for at least 3 years!
But why create an environment where this is even possible? Why create an environment where honest employees don’t even know they are overestimating their time? Why have an environment where employees, or worse supervisors, would be encouraged to commit payroll fraud and justify this dishonest behavior?
With facial recognition biometric time clocks, especially mobile facial recognition devices, more companies are realizing that trust isn’t needed with time tracking. In fact, this advanced system made the punch in/out process much easier for the employees than manual timesheets. It eliminates the possibility for fraud, and moves the employer/employee relationship beyond the trivial and to the more important subjects such as productivity and job performance.
Companies who have implemented the use of facial recognition biometric time clocks don’t have to worry about whether time fraud is taking place. They know it will never happen because it instantly gets rid of the possibility of buddy punching with the use of touch-free and highly accurate face recognition attendance system.
Here’s the key takeaway: Never substitute trust when trust isn’t required. If you haven’t already, implement a comprehensive time and attendance system with full facial recognition biometric clocks. This is a must if you want to save your company thousands to millions of dollars in payroll fraud losses per year.