Managing People at Work

Posted: October 17th, 2013

Managing People at Work


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Managing People at Work

Managing people is among the most complex tasks in the workplace because people usually have negative perceptions about any form of evaluation or surveillance within the workplace. Management of people via the use of surveillance systems has attracted outcry from within the workforce who view such means as equal to the invasion of their privacy. However despite such control the use of surveillance systems is relevance in that it contributes to the ease in the management process as well as ensuring employee efficacy in their work and use of company resources.

Control is one of the most important elements in the management processes because it ensures that the management asserts authority in the company to achieve the goals and objectives of the organisation. Various methods are applied in the surveillance and control processes to ensure that the management has information about the happenings within the workplace (Ball, 2010). The presence of technological advancements has enabled contemporary organisations to adopt new and efficient means of evaluating the labour force. The workplace surveillance means using technology-based products is bound to ensure that the organisation is precise in retrieval and collection of information, which is vital in the management processes within the entire organisation. Electronic mail monitoring, video camera surveillance, tracking systems are a source of agony for the employees within the workplace due to the invasiveness of such products which leave workers without room to enjoy their won individual privacy.

Use of new forms of technology has enabled management to ease costs of managing people as it reduces the number of employees needed to work within the organisation in terms of supervision and other management duties within the entity. Supervision is an important factor in achievement of employee efficacy and ensuring equal delegation of duties. Despite the image portrayed about the use of the technology-based products as invasive, such products enable the management in the delegation of duties and focusing on the management by exception approach such it focuses only on the factors which hinder the employees from achieving maximum individual potential and more so the organisational maximum potential. Management by exception within the organisation enables the organisation to lay emphasis on important issues, which relate to the employees. This is because the surveillance systems collect vast information within the organisation, which might be both important and irrelevant within the organisation. Hence, it is paramount for the organisation to exercise means of surveillance within the organisation

For instance, within the organisation management is able to monitor events such as breaks within the workplace and their effect on employee profitability. Surveillance within the organisation is vital for the management of the entity to ensure that the deviations within the organisation are dealt with promptly. Surveillance has been part of the corporate world due to need to exercise control over the investments by the management or owners of an entity. Traditional organisations had their own means of surveillance to ensure ease in management and supervision of the duties and responsibilities delegated within the organisation (O’Rourke; Teicher & Pyman, 2011). In the digital age, it is paramount for organisations to employ new forms of surveillance especially with the use of technology-based products. Hence, it is a part of an evolution in the part of human resource management, which is largely attributed to technological advancements.

Surveillance systems can be described as better than previous forms of supervision or surveillance in that they enable focus on minute details and are unobtrusive within the entity. Such eradicates coercive means of supervision and management of people in the work place, which was bound to generate conflict within the organisation. In addition, the use of the new surveillance systems is necessitated by the need for responsibility within the organisation. Tradition organisations differ from the contemporary organisations in respect to managing the workforce in the aspect of enabling responsibility within the organisation. Traditional systems had collective approach in terms of tracing responsibility among the workers. In addition, it was an approach whereby teamwork was given emphasis despite the presence of lazy individuals within a team. Moreover, in some teams, there were cases of inefficiency, which might be attributed to relatively few individuals within the organisation (Richards, 2012). The inability of traditional organisations to attribute both achievement and failures to specific individuals within the organisations is an indication of lack of efficiency within the organisation.

Management requires good degree of accuracy to achieve the organisational goals and objectives. With specific reference to the management of employees within an organisation, it is paramount to ensure that duties and responsibilities within the organisation are traceable to the individual employees to ensure employee productivity. For instance, those with errors in the execution of their individual tasks within the organisation can be identified to explain their reasons for the deviations. Accountability for individual actions within the organisation is a sure sign of a mature organisation in the management of the employees within the organisation. Accountability and responsibility go hand in hand, hence the ability of the employees within the organisation to exercise responsibility within the organisation ensures the employees are mindful in their conduct and more so in the execution of tasks and responsibilities delegated to them within the organisation. The presence of accountable and responsible behaviour spreads out through the organisation such that even those within the senior management become responsible and accountable in the execution of individual tasks within the organisation. Thus, the ability to trace individual work with surveillance systems enables individuals within the workforce to accrue individual merit or demerit based on the work done.

However, there are instances of lack of surveillance and supervision within the top management enabling them to become dictatorial in the management of the people. This is detrimental to the organisation in that it inhibits good management practises and ethical practises in managing labour within an organisation. Lack of ethical approaches in the management of labour is bound to accrue negative effects within the organisation. Such approaches enforce situations such as favouritism and other unfair practises, which are bound to put unwarranted pressure on the individuals. Stress within the workplaces can be due to unfair practises by the management of the employees giving others undue attention and favours (Thompson, 2003). This inhibits worker productivity within the organisation, as they are unmotivated because they view their actions even though productive as unrecognisable. The management exercises control in that those in management are able to ignore some individuals within the organisation due to favouritism.

It would be unfair not to mention the invasion of the individual privacy within an organisation with the new technological means of surveillance and supervision of the labour force within an entity. The use of privacy invasive surveillance within the workplace has attracted condemnation from the workers (Watt, 2009). The use of such techniques however enables the organisation to focus on employees and if they are working as required to the achievement of the organisational goals. Employees are unable to work diligently and optimise their skills because of the presence of a system of surveillance. However, for some employees the presence of surveillance systems ensures that the employees are able to work optimally as they fear deviating from their delegated duties and responsibilities due to the presence of supervision or surveillance from the management. Individuals within the management might propagate invasion of privacy with surveillance systems, For instance they might monitor individuals within the organisation from a sexual perspective. This is tantamount to sexual harassment and lack of respect for individuals within the organisation.

Despite the negatives attributed to the use of surveillance systems, the use of such systems has numerous benefits to both the employee as well as the organisation. The use of such systems enables the management to focus on issues, which affect the employees and inhibit their productivity. Work related problems might be a hindrance to the effective execution of the duties and responsibilities of the workers. Thus, the surveillance systems enable management to evaluate the factors, which inhibit optimal employee performance within an organisation. In addition, the use of surveillance systems enables the organisation to focus on security and welfare of the employees within the organisation.

Surveillance also ensures that the employees are able to focus only on work related issues. Such an aspect helps reduction of idle time, which is costly to the organisation. It ensures that the employees who are in constant check by the management are vigilant in conduct of their duties and responsibilities because of the fear of failing in their duties as they are monitored and evaluated on an individual basis. In essence evaluation of employee performance cannot be achieved without the use of surveillance systems because the focus on the systematic execution of duties and more so the output delivered by the employees in the organisation. Performance appraisal is an incorporation of surveillance to enable management to reward the most productive individuals within the organisation. Hence, it is paramount for organisations to implement surveillance systems, which do not infringe on employees rights to individual privacy but focus on the efficiency and the execution of duties and responsibilities within the organisation. (1500 words)


Ball, K. (2010). ‘Workplace surveillance: an overview’, Labour History, 51:1, 87-106.

O’Rourke, A.; Teicher, J. & Pyman, A. (2011). ‘Internet and Email Monitoring in the Workplace: Time for an Alternate Approach’, Journal of Industrial Relations, 53:4, 522-533.

Richards, J. (2012). ‘What has the internet ever done for employees? A review, map and research agenda’, Employee Relations, 34:1, 22-43.

Thompson, P., (2003). “Fantasy Island: A Labour Process Critique of the ‘Age of Surveillance’” Surveillance and Society, 1:12. 138-151.

Watt, J. R. (2009). ‘Electronic workplace surveillance and employee privacy: a comparative analysis of privacy protection in Australia and the United States.’ Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, 1:12, 123-147.

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