Managing People: Your Most Difficult, Most Rewarding Task, Part II

The following article is continued from the January issue.

Improving Work Methods

To improve work methods and habits within your organization, look around your organization or company and decide what the criteria for change should be: less costly work methods, less time involved, smoother work/ paper flow, greater customer service or faster repair turnaround. Next, determine how much you want to expend to affect those changes. If the change is economical and the return is great, it is worth following through.

Analyze what is being done. It's surprising how quickly policies and rigidity set in, even in the youngest of organizations, and work is done simply because "that's the way it is done here." Find good reasons for everything that is being done, and make certain that the right people are doing the job.

Redesign the job, if necessary. When people are encouraged to communicate and participate, they often will arrive at recommendations on how to reshape the task so that it can be done faster, better, more accurately and at a lower cost. People are uncomfortable with change, but they are less uncomfortable when they feel they have some control or input in the change that is taking place.

Test the new job or system. Once you have made the change and are conducting the test, ask the same set of questions you did when you decided that a change was necessary. You may find that the situation has improved, the job was done better before the change, or there was no benefit one way or the other.

The Art of Delegating

If you're a very effective manager, you already know how to delegate, and you use the technique to its maximum benefit.

Choose the right people for the right job. One of the prime jobs you have within your organization is to sort out those people who are really good at the tasks given them. Then make a concentrated effort to provide a job that constantly challenges their talents.

When you delegate, communicate. One of the most difficult jobs each of us has is communicating. All too often, we assume too much without directions, instructions and requests. For this reason, it is important that all parties clearly understand what is expected before a task is initiated. Encourage and solicit questions at the outset.

Give credit freely to people who undertake and complete projects. People respond to "warm fuzzies" or compliments and recognition for their efforts.

Request, don't order. You can tell someone, "Do this now," or you can ask, "Could you get this done now?" Both approaches may get the task completed, but the latter approach will get you assistance and cooperation rather than compliance under duress.

Be tolerant of differences, mistakes. People may approach a task differently. They may take longer, and they may make mistakes along the way, but they improve with each endeavor. Regardless of their approach, the results are what you should be most interested in. When people accomplish the objective, give them credit. When they make mistakes, help them along the way because they will learn from them.

When you really understand yourself and your interrelationship with people who work with and for you, everyone can accomplish more. You will be managing more by managing less.

About the Author

G.A. Andy Marken is president of Marken Communications, Inc., in Santa Clara, Calif. He may be reached at marken@cerfnet.com.

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