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Management Tips to Improve Any Business
How can you improve your organization's operational efficiency and bottom line, without wasting time on the latest management fad? What can you do to improve the operations of any business?
Finding the Right People
Put the right person in the job, tailor the job responsibilities to the person, train the person to fit the position or admit there is a problem in Human Resources.
Possession of an MBA does not make someone a qualified manager. In fact, you’ll find many good potential managers among those who’ve risen up from the shop floor or warehouse to line management positions but have never stepped foot onto a university.
Assuming that someone must have a four year college degree to be a good employee causes you to overlook about half of the workforce. Many people with a high school education and a work ethic will work harder in “entry level” positions and remain loyal for years than a college graduate who earned an easy degree but now struggles to pay off $50,000 in student loans.
Management, Metrics and Business Reporting
When someone is emotionally invested in a metric, find out why the metric matters so much. Is it because this is the one metric in which the work group can excel? Or is this measure of success because the person has staked a career on it?
Learn how to stop analyzing past failures when you cannot gain any remaining major insight to apply to the future or when analysis of the past limits the ability to plan ahead.
If people appear to be manipulating reports for the sake of appearance, find out why. There may be a general fear of showing the truth or something contrary to management’s appearances.
Knowledge Capture and Knowledge Transfer
When you teach employees what not to do, remember to teach the proper way of doing things as well.
When soliciting feedback, design surveys so that most of the results come from stakeholders directly affected. Ensure that your stakeholders’ responses are not overwhelmed by feedback from those not affected by any changes.
Create a coordinated system of knowledge capture and dissemination. However, be careful of having a formal system of selecting and assigning teachers. Do not automatically rely on the most experienced staff to be teachers – tenure rarely imparts teaching ability, and tenure in institutions like public schools has actually backfired by making it almost impossible to remove bad teachers.
Be sure to capture the context of your documented processes and procedures. You don't want someone following an assembly process that is obsolete or HR procedures that are no longer in compliance with the law.
Don’t mistake the number of credentials someone has with the ability to teach. Test possible teachers for their ability to impart knowledge and regularly evaluate their ability to teach others.
When you hear the sentence, “Only so-and-so does this,” know that you have to capture and disseminate that person’s knowledge.
Plan slack into your schedules. You must allow for human weakness, either in the form of failings or illness.
Pick achievable dates when scheduling projects. When someone tells you up front that a deadline will be difficult, don’t push them to achieve it unless there is a burning reason forcing the change, such as an underlying legal cutoff date. Never push people to finish sooner than a deadline if it will cut into product testing, product reviews or design reviews.
Managing Business Processes
Tailor processes to fit human nature. Don’t expect to warp people to fit complex and convoluted processes.
Ensure that changes actually improve an important metric such as cycle time, employee retention, profits or error rates. Never change for the sake of change or merely in the hope that changes such as adopting a new management technique will make things better.
Instead of holding seminars to boost creativity, look for barriers to communication and the capturing of ideas people naturally create.
When you come across a person who is constantly busy and yet receives tasks from others, study how this person is so efficient before spreading these work practices across the work group.
If you choose to implement a process improvement methodology, don't forget to dedicate the time and resources to continuing the process improvement methodology after the first wave of projects are completed.
Limit the number of structural changes, procedural changes and reorganizations. Constant change for the sake of change or the hope of making things better undermines efficiency and employee confidence. The book "Good to Great" covers this problem in detail.
Decide what is important to you and your team. Then decide what is truly important. When you set goals, choose those goals that are important to both the team and the customer or stakeholders.
Limit the number of top priorities to no more than three. Ideally, only have one “top” priority. Productivity suffers when people have trouble deciding which top priority is the one to work on.