In order to decrease the complexity and confusion in your department or group, try the following tips:
1. Do a “productive work vs. non-productive” work survey.
In addition to doing this yourself, ask each person on your staff to record the following data for two weeks. List tasks that truly contribute to the products they’re supposed to produce. List all the tasks that subtract from the time needed to complete products. Log the time spent on both activities, productive and non-productive.
2. Develop flowcharts.
Have your staff members chart all the steps in their processes, not as you want them to be, but as they are actually performed now. List even the wasted steps. If employees have more than one job, have them do flowcharts on each one separately. After they’ve created their flowcharts and assigned time-lines for getting their jobs done, review each process with each employee and ask the following questions: Is this really where the process starts? Is there anything you should do or need to have earlier? At each point, ask, “Does it always happen this way? Does anything go wrong here?”
Modify the chart according to the answers to these questions and have your employees redo the flowchart as they should be. You want copies of both “as is” and “to be” flowcharts.
During the flowchart process, you undoubtedly will discover opportunities to save the company quite a lot of money and time. You will see areas where you can make simple, on the-spot fixes. This exercise often reveals whether the right people are doing the right jobs and helps you gain a better understanding of what your people face every day.
As an added benefit, the flowcharts will provide valuable documentation that can easily be the basis of written work instructions and training materials for new staff members. Another important benefit is that this exercise gives everyone on your staff a sense of belonging to a team. Every time you change something complex into something simple, you save the company money. And don’t forget to reward your staff members when they simplify a complex task.
3. Delegate authority and tasks.
Unload tasks that eat up your time and that others can do as well as you.
4. Prioritize your activities.
If there’s one thing to learn from the lives of great executives, it’s how they concentrate their efforts. Effective supervisors do first things first, and they do them one step at a time.
5. Complete what you start.
The basic life cycle of anything in the universe is birth, change, decline and death. Or think of it as start, change, stop. All things, great and small, follow the same sequence. However, people often become stuck in one part of the cycle or another. Some people are great at starting things, but aren’t so great at changing and stopping. Others do best at changing things. A few others are good at trying to stop things, even before an activity has started or changed.
Supervisors wishing to develop highly motivated groups of subordinates who work together as an effective team should be sensitive to the benefits that follow from creating a positive work environment or culture. People want to be asked to think, not just told what to do! How about you?
Do you enjoy, or would you enjoy, continually being given direct orders with little or no chance to participate in decisions of importance to you? And if you don’t, why should anybody else is expected to?
A highly directive manager can make a poor atmosphere worse (even insufferable) by venting unbridled anger or rage, as insensitive supervisors so often do. Some misguided managers even believe that in order to obtain or achieve power they need to periodically “chew tail.” But generations of deep thinkers and successful managers have proven that this radical and angry approach can only hurt the company’s production.