People have to be developed to adopt responsibility for the systematic aspects of the business - both in and outside management. Getting them to surround themselves with indicators of this responsibility, such as charts and graphs, is a good start.
But there is also a need to use all opportunities to equip your people with the knowledge skills and attitudes that will ensure they are effective in making the optimum decisions for taking your business forward. Some of these opportunities are:
Teamwork, where individual skills can be combined both to achieve a larger task, and to share those skills through supporting and developing others
Training, both on the job and in special forums - and focused not just on the current role but also on future rolls
Empowerment, where the skills and experience developed are tested and refined by the challenge of appropriate responsibility.
Self Managed Workgroups, take the concept of responsibility and empowerment still further into the concept of groups that literally manage themselves
Meeting Analysis can provide insights into how well teamwork is taking place, and the quality of interpersonal skills that are employed (a very underrated consideration in ensuring efficient progress)
Surveys can help to create a picture of the less tangible aspects such as attitudes, growth and motivation.
And finally, Competence Planning, which helps to bring all of the above together into a coherent strategy
Not all of the above approaches are relevant to all situations, but in some form or another they provide a wealth of opportunities for developing your people into taking real systematic responsibility for your business. It is important however that any work that is done in this area is part of a planned strategy of development, and not just thrown in ad-hoc. Please click on the diagram below (or on the associated text) to explore the various approaches that have been used to gain full potential of 'People' within organisations.
(click below for an oversight)
Case studies of success
Managing by Design
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Transforming performance through QFD
Testimonials on systematic management
Meeting Analysis, Survey, Competence Planning,
Training and Development as a Process
As the company adopts a more systematic approach to the management of its activities, more and more of your staff will become involved in the process of management - even if it is only the management of local improvements.
Initially not everyone will have the skills they need for this task, but teamwork provides an excellent opportunity both to combine the skills they do have, and to actively develop those they don't.
But for teamwork to be truly effective in both of these tasks it is not enough to throw together a group of people and expect them to get on with task - the task may well get done, but it is unlikely to be done in the most efficient or effective manner, and many of the opportunities of using the challenge to develop the capabilities of your people will be lost.
Teams need to be set up properly if they are to fulfil the opportunities they have. Setting up a team involves ensuring that the four elements of teamwork are properly in place (see diagram right).
Firstly, the team needs to develop a consistent and shared view of the objectives. Secondly, the team needs to decide and agree on a practical process to pursue those objectives. Thirdly, the team needs to have established the roles and responsibilities of each of the team members in working through that process, and any essential support to it. And fourthly, the team needs to have an agreed way of working together so that ideas and communication do not become distorted by inappropriate responses or misinterpretation.
These things have to be put in place from the outset, although they may at times be temporary, or may need to be reviewed as the task becomes clearer. If the team is unable to do this for itself they made need to involve a 'facilitator' who can help them through it and ensure the quality of the four elements is maintained throughout the life of the team.
This may be especially valuable during the early stages of teamwork. Teams tend to progress through a number of stages in their development - a polite and careful phase called 'Forming', a challenging phase called 'Storming', an adjusting and accommodating phase called 'Norming' and finally into 'Performing' (see diagram in top left corner). Focusing on the four elements of teamwork will ensure a healthy progress through these phases. When something goes wrong with the teamwork it can always be related back to one or more of the four elements.
If these things are attended to properly, the team environment will prove an excellent mechanism for both growing your performance and your people. And teams can be established to undertake any task, from agreeing how to organise a coffee break, through to running the company itself.
The adoption of a systematic approach places new demands on people. Demands for which they are not always well equipped.
Training provides an effective means to equip people for their role, to provide them with confidence to undertake it, and to give them a common language to share experience with their colleagues.
Training to be considered in ensuring your people are so equipped would include: training in teamwork and team processes; training in interpersonal and influencing skills; training in personal responsibility; and training in facilitation skills for those required to coach and support their colleagues as they adopt the new approach.
Empowerment is a concept that is often misunderstood. Some see it as a democratisation of the management process - a handing over of rights to the previously disenfranchised. Some see it as an abdication of responsibility.
Empowerment is essentially the provision of the ability to influence of control those things which affect the quality of our work. The granting of authority is only part of it - the main part concerns the development of skills, the provision of resources and facilities, and the coaching of understanding.
Empowerment is about growing the ability to respond, and then formalising the 'authority' that matches that ability - not the other way round. Empowerment is first and foremost about developing the potential of your people, and only then is it about delegating your authority.
However, empowerment is a key feature of establishing a systematic approach to management. It is essential that people grow to take responsibility for improving and managing the performance of the processes that they operate. But empowerment is a process, and only at the end of the process is the full authority conferred.
The following checklist may help you think through the responsibilities a manager has if he/she is to empower a subordinate to take responsibility for a task:
Self managed work groups (SMWGs) are in many ways an extension of the concept of empowerment. In an SMWG not only is full responsibility of the task delegated to the team, but the team are also given responsibility for those management activities that concern the maintenance and development of the team.
In an SMWG the team take decisions on its own recruitment, training, organisation, and sometimes even its working hours and remuneration. SMWGs can be very effective in the right circumstances - and they can have the motivating factor of the team in a very real sense 'running its own business'. However the responsibilities of empowerment are key to setting an SMWG up effectively - for all the roles the team is expected to undertake.
A useful device for SMWGs in understanding their role with regard to other groups and the other parts of the business, is the roof of the QFD (see Philosophy). In working through the potential for the SMWG to support or conflict with other groups, the roof provides a means for them to think through what communication they will require.
Most of management takes place in meetings - whether those meetings are full blown formal whole-day affairs, or whether they are a simple interchange between two people. Our effectiveness in meetings is in large part our effectiveness in management.
Because of this, strategies to reduce the number of meetings are often doomed to failure - the goal must surely be to have meetings that are more efficient, more appropriately attended, and better run.
One way of achieving this is to review each meeting in order that future meetings can be improved. Such a review need not be complex, and generally we would favour a simple analysis of 'what went well?' and 'room for improvement' listed on a flipchart by the group at the end of the meeting. The flipchart can then be revisited at the start of the next meeting in order that the mistakes are not repeated.
The quality of this review can be helped by prominently displaying the criteria that represents good meeting discipline in each meeting room. This will both guide behaviours in the meeting and ensure a more comprehensive review.
Surveys are a very useful mechanism of evaluating the companies performance in all areas of PEOPLE. Designed appropriately, then can provide feedback on the effectiveness of empowerment, the quality of meetings, how well teamwork works, management style, the value of training, and on the deployment of every aspect of the management process. An example of a possible survey is included in the resources section.
Typically a company would undertake a comprehensive survey of its people's perceptions on an annual basis, and feed this into a cycle of improvement planning. But simpler, shorter surveys can be used on a sampled basis on a monthly cycle for those aspects that management wants to keep a tight control of through the general management process.
Competence is essentially the link that channels your resources to meet the opportunities that exist around you (see diagram on the left - source Martin Price).
As such Competence is essentially a strategic tool, and needs to be thought through accordingly. This is a long way removed from the traditional focus that competence is what we need to get the job done - it moves Competence as a concept from a reactive disposition to a proactive one.
One tool that helps this thinking is to use a modified form of an Ishikawa diagram. By putting the strategic objective or opportunity at the head of the diagram, and the Critical Success Factors for fulfilling that opportunity on the legs of the diagram, it is possible to explore a number of things.
In the diagram on the right we illustrate the use of this model to identify the measures that management need to establish as part of their management routine (blue dials), the responsibilities they need to define for people within the process (red men) and the competence development that will be needed for these people to fulfil those critical roles (green books)
Training and Development is a process, and not a response. Training and Development is also something that only happens in small part within formal training courses.
Most training takes place (effectively or ineffectively) at the actual place of work.
A manager's role is two-fold: deliver improved performance today, and deliver the potential for improved performance tomorrow. But it is often the second bit that gets forgotten.
Each task or activity has the potential to contribute to both aspects of the manager's role. The process for thinking through the first part is often clear - but there is often no process for thinking through the second part.
The diagram below is one model for helping Manager's to think through this more clearly.
© Tesseract Management Systems Ltd 2003