Saturday, 28 May 2022

Only Three Options

 When I was learning about management and productivity, one important exercise was the in-tray exercise where the student is faced with a pile of documents from an in-tray and has to work through the pile dealing with them if possible or prioritising them for later handling if that is more appropriate.  Some could perhaps be delegated to others and a small number could be ignored (such snd those where the recipient  is simply copied in to a wider-circulated note).

This was, for me, a very useful exercise where I learnt that, wherever possible, a message should be handled only once.  When at the end of the exercise, if the pile left for later handling is nearly as big as the original pile, the student has failed in this aim (of handling each paper only once).

Now things are even worse for managers.  The existence of email, internal messaging systems and social media sites such vas LinkedIn make the pile of things to deal with much bigger than it used to be in ‘paper days’

But the principle remains.

Whether a message arrives on paper or electronically, you should aim to ‘touch it’ only once.

To keep it simple, remember that you only have to decide to do one of three things:

File it, discard it (ignore it) or take action.

Often this is a simple decision.  If it isn’t, make it so.

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Careful how you read the data

I read quite a lot of studies that suggest that remote working did not and does not, negatively impact productivity.

However, I am sceptical.

The studies are generally of 2 types.

The first set are studies that essentially consist of questionnaires asking employees if they have been less productive whilst working from home.  Not surprisingly, they say ‘No’.

The other set are ‘technical studies’ which purport to show that remote employees spend as much time on their computers, make as many keystrokes and so on.

Neither of these measure outputs or achievements …. surely the only thing that really matter.

So where you look at such studies, read them carefully to see what was measured.

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Too Much Coordination?

Many employees claim they spend too much time coordinating their activity with others instead of driving forward their primary activities.

Working from home has made this worse.  Employees are forever on Zoom or Teams calls, talking about that they have done or what they are scheduled to do..  This means they are not carrying out their primary task.

Coordination is essential, of course, but managers have to find ways of making it more effective and more efficient.  Meetings should be shorter and more focused, preferably using g pictorial representations of progress that can be easily assimilated. Similarly goals, and progress towards them should be easily communicated and assessed.  Wherever possible, coordination should be part of the primary task, rather than a second order activity superimposed on top. 

This requires modified, not new, management skills and managerial processes.  Managers themselves need preparing for this new paradigm - one where communication between individual and teams automatically ensures coordination.

Are you ready for this?

Saturday, 7 May 2022

Management 2.0?

in the past, you measured how hard people were working by such things as noting who was at their desk or who spoke up in meetings, and who had extended breaks or too many days off sick.

In these days of remote and hybrid working, you’ll have to find a new way. Those simple observations are  no longer possible;.

They were not effective measures anyway. Highly productive employees probably spend less time completing their tasks than sub-standard workers.

We need to measure achievements and accomplishments rather than hours worked.

This means we have to have clear objectives and targets and measure completion or progress towards them.

Make sure employees know what is expected of them this week or month.and let them know whether this is what you got from them.

Work should be a series of journeys where employees know their destination of each, and know when they’ve reached it, not a relentless hamster wheel of repetition with no end in sight.

Managers need to know their staff, their strengths and weaknesses. their level of motivation and commitment and the level of monitoring and intervention necessary.  This could be regarded as Management 2.0 but is just Management 1.0 done properly.