My article is aimed at people who manage teams – whether they are project managers, team leads or those who aspire to managerial roles.
You might have thought at some point why some managers can get everything right: employees understand them immediately, they do all their tasks, come up with proposals if something goes wrong and so on. Yet another manager, who may have the same experience and skills, is having difficulties. Some of my readers would say that such a manager lacks charisma or leadership qualities. Others would insist on a lack of experience. And they will all be right in their own way.
It is easier for a person with charisma to manage people. And the more experienced you get, the better you can “anticipate” certain events – you can see what would motivate employees or where they might make a mistake – and you can do something to prevent it. But it’s not about charisma or experience. Of course, by becoming more experienced, you will yourself understand what I am going to talk to you about. If you knowingly start building such approaches within your team, then your efficiency as a manager will certainly be much higher. That is why you should look at regular management as an important factor of success.
What is regular management?
Regular management implies the formalizing of employees’ work and creating conditions for deliberate performance of a required number of actions. In other words, you formulate a set of principles for your team/project/organization (underline as appropriate), translate them into actions, and (most importantly) track their fulfillment and follow them yourself. Eventually, they become an integral part of your team’s work and are applied automatically. The process requires only insignificant corrections, and sharing these principles when onboarding new employees.
What are these principles and what benefits do they bring to team work? Let’s look at a simple case, not connected with your work. Parents ask a child to clean his room. What are next steps he or she should do? “Start cleaning his room,” you would say, and make the first mistake. What should an employee (or the child in our example) do before doing the task? First of all, he should find out where to put his toys, where he can find a dust spray, a cloth and so on. When should he start and finish the task? And does this include other activities such as cleaning the windows or vacuuming? Thus we get the first principle:
Principle #1. A given task should be analyzed before you start working on it
Suppose the task has been analyzed, everything is clear, and the child is able to do it. Then he starts doing it. To what extent should the task be performed? The answer is obvious – to 100%. What if there is a drawer that wasn’t dusted? – No. What if he gathered all the toys except the ones on the bed? – No, it isn’t! You may object that the task was not detailed, yet then you are in breach of Principle #1 – you analyzed the task and said that everything was clear and you could start working...
Thus, the next principle:
Principle #2. A given task should be performed 100%
To complete the task, the child performs simple actions: picks the toys and puts them in boxes, uses the dust spray and then cleans with the cloth etc. He may come across some obstacles – a table that is too heavy to move, or a place that is difficult to reach... The child decides, “OK, I’ll finish and then tell my parents that I can’t do some things.” And he continues cleaning the rest of the room. But the cloth gets dirty, making the furniture even dirtier, so that it needs cleaning again. Here we move to the next principle which can be formulated as follows:
Principle #3. Any obstacles on the way to 100% performance of a task should be promptly reported to the manager and all stakeholders
In other words, you should not finish cleaning first, as the outcome could be unacceptable – it might take too much time or be of low quality. The child should have realized this, ran to his parents and asked, “What should I do? I can’t go on cleaning, because some furniture is too dirty.” Generally, he acted right, yet what could he do to avoid laying the blame on his parents, distracting them from their chores, and making them find out what was so dirty there? He could have proposed some options for solving the problem, saying (for example), “I need some more rags, just one doesn’t work. Where can I get it?” This is our next principle:
Principle #4. A suggestion on how to solve the problem is more valuable than information about its occurrence