One of the biggest mistakes in management is to try to treat everybody the same. Everybody is different, so treat them uniquely.
The biggest difference between employees is the white vs blue collar aspect or as some people like the generalize: the production workers and the knowledge workers. Where production workers are being managed with the performance indicator “time” (time spent, speed/hour), knowledge workers should be managed by result, but are rarely so.
So lets talk about these knowledge workers. These are people who have studied so they could start working. This is a big difference with other kind of employees. These people are professionals and willing to perform.
It’s your job to make it clear what the vision, mission and strategy of the company is and how the team plays an integral role in it. If professionals know what to do, they take action and do it.
Now, don’t make the mistake that many other managers make! Don’t walk in front of your professionals trying to control and see what they are doing. Just agree with each person or team what the deliverables are and be there for them when they have questions. For the rest of the time; mind your own business, unless asked.
Of course this sounds all like a perfect heaven but in business not everybody who is in the function of a knowledge worker IS a knowledge worker. Recognize and act on that! If you see that the person can become a knowledge worker, coach him. If you see that he can become a knowledge worker but that it may take a long time, give him another function or be clear and help find him find another job.
It’s so important to have a team that performs, but if you tackle the problem of creating highly productive professionals that work by result instead of hours, you will find that your team will do okay automatically.