Crash course in management
We can improve the effectiveness and cohesion of our staff and businesses.
Despite the complexity of corporate America, the essentials of management are actually very simple, and yet somehow the most neglected actions.
Starting with the basics, any organization sells a product or service. The most trained staff at delivering that service should be the ones who help decide how that service is accomplished. This creates what's called a 'workflow' which is often drawn up on a workflow chart. It's actually one of the first steps of training, which is, above all else, the most important element to the success of any business as it helps the staff see how everything plays out together, instead of apparently isolated duties that wear them down. If your workplace doesn't have a posted workflow chart then it's likely management doesn't recognize the importance of training, or thinks that a couple videos and "learning on the job" make any sense.
For too long, training has been heavily overlooked. Employee laziness, stress and mistakes have largely been considered personality issues. When, usually, they are training issues. The personal factor only plays a role when they've been trained elsewhere. Which is much better for locations that have no real training protocols. In the past they "may have seen results with on the job training" when in actuality they just got a larger group of individuals who were actually trained, resulting in a more even distribution of the workload that then allowed them time to train the others.
Ever seen a martial art student go from white belt to black belt in a tough school? It's a pretty cool sight to see. Watching them begin all uncertain of themselves and slowly become a peaceful force to be reckoned with. This is the concept of training. The study of what it takes to help your staff become able to get more done in less time and with less stress. Signs of stress don't just mean that person isn't happy while you rake in the profits on your private yacht, they're actually signs of:
Loss of profits
Improper training based on the responsibility they face or the independence they are expected to operate on.
Possible attacks against their pleas for training and proper support
Unbalanced workloads (which will mean loosing your best workers)
Lack of recourses to do their work (Including internet connections)
Increased possible liability (Expect calls form angry clients)
Increased chance of workplace injury
Misutilization of personnel (Putting staff on their weaknesses)
Likely burn out (Increasing costs of recruitment)
Thus we can't afford to ignore signs of stress but what do we do when we see them? Make sure the list of training, resource and time elements are 'in' as delineated later on.
When few people are trained then a much larger burden becomes placed upon the hard workers, and often with no recognition, bonuses or praise from management in any way. And in actuality, management is oddly only more likely to punish those hard workers for the mistakes they are guaranteed to make. When those hard workers finally leave, they will have been of less and less value to the point that management may even feel thankful for them leaving, when it was their own failures at management that lead to the turnover.
This is why you can't just hire anyone whos been with you for a long time to management, you want to seek out people who've been trained to manage. Even if they only took a few community college classes. Or at the very least, have your managers read our introductory material as generally their own training will consist of everything but the three key fundamentals. Their lack of training in how to improve conditions then forces them to become illusionists.
Multiple industries have been able to get by with shoddy training, and without the other basics of management due to lower workloads and less complicated technology and or machinery. With the pressures, demands and complexities of today we literally can't afford to neglect training any longer.
We can continue to wonder why we can't get our employees to work, why we face so much turn over, drama and liability. Accidentally engage in mismanagement of personnel, misuse of resources, overburden our top performers until they too become a liability from the sheer stress and pressure they're put under...
Or we can simply put in the basics. When we do, we will find everything else will tend to work itself out.
Here's simply what should occur step by step:
The most trained individuals help decide on how service should occur
They may need temporary hires to take some of their workload to make this possible.
Management reviews their ideas and reviews it to ensure fair workloads on each step of the way.
This is then typed up into training materials so that the team can all see where they and others fit in.
A flow is drawn up, possibly using fiverr.com, and posted so that all personnel can quickly see the workflow chart of their position and how it helps with the bigger picture.
For all the employees to don't feel like they're making a difference and cant find the motivation to get to work, this will actually help them.
A training manual is written up for each position that fully explains their duties, how to do each part of their job, where they can find tools and resources to do their work, how to use various systems, who to go to in case of trouble with various systems, staff or clients etc.
"On the job training" without a printed manual of how to do their job is more correctly known as torture, especially in environments where the patients lives are on the lines.
Training checklists are then typed up for each department and role that's based on their contributions to the overall workflow primarily. With steps, based on their training manual and work flow chart for them to sign off on WHEN THEY FEEL ABLE TO DO THAT ACTION ON THEIR OWN. Not when they've been shown once or told in passing. Secondarily, they are then trained on other supportive tasks they may need to help with in case of personnel issues.
Have a volunteer take out their phone, get video wavers signed and record the best staffers doing each step from intake to processing, actions, delivery etc. Have these videos on a secured vimeo account or something that all staff can access.
Make sure all staff sign off on having watched each video.
Block off time from a workload schedule, even if just 30 minutes at the top of the day, for the staff to practice what they learned in the videos.
For telemarketers the main ingredients will always be compassion mixed with confidence and a relaxed tone.
For techs in a medical facility, the story of the samurai may help them a little, but more importantly at least having these flow charts, printed training materials and videos, followed by repetitious tasks are the key to victory.
Hopefully, those staff members can do more work aligned with what they focused on that morning.
Leads of each department should keep an excel spreadsheet with the key areas of responsibility along the left and the staff along the top in order to better be able to manage their staff and try and keep staffers on their strengths, instead of, say, continually putting a computer illiterate staff on writing histories when he happens to be a master of every other area, including the ability to train others on key areas of their jobs.
This is management, or the sophisticated organization and procurement of resources in order to maximize profits.
Now what's to be done once all of this training support has been created? Review the strength of your training program. Treat all signs of stress as the need of more training and support in that area.
Make sure that all items the staff need are in place in order for them to do their jobs:
Machines and equipment
PPE as applicable
Tools and resources
Fast and dependable server/internet connection.
Time spent of your staff staring at a screen waiting for it to load is lost profits and increased burn out since they now have to do more of their actual work with less time, also leading to more liability etc.
Possibly a large board on the wall with a list of each of the main steps along the left and the name of the clients along the top so that all individuals can clearly see what has or has not been done and by whom.
In the veterinary world the program 'smartflow' does this quite nicely and should be modeled in making your own program.
Only now can management and lead staff ask where things can be improved that then either turns into more training, resources, protocols, sops or tools while being careful to not overwhelm staff with unnecessary sops for every possibly way a sneeze can occur.
Time is not really something we can directly cause. As in demanding how efficient our staff should be. More than anything its an indication of how well management is doing.
It's important to know what reasonable work loads are of our staff. As in how to treat staff, a lot of managers would do far better treating their staff like machines, read that page for better clarification but essentially it's important to know that if we make a machine run faster than its currently able then we will burn it out. Or that if a machine isn't functioning properly perhaps there's an issue with other machines it depends on, as in the training of other staff.
If more work is required of our staff than what is reasonably possible then our choice is as follows:
Leave that much work on their shoulders and destroy them, and become baffled when they leave or break their contracts.
Or rein in their workload to more reasonable, yet still highly profitable levels.
The medical industry has the hardest time with this one and due to the insane level of demands upon them as any attempt to "make their work loads more reasonable" can actually result in lost lives. Yet if they are allowed to simply burn out the far less lives will be saved in the long run. Workload can actually be addressed greatly be efforts in training and resources, as well as hiring assistants to prevent highly trained staff from working on scheduling or other menial tasks that literally anyone can do. - Yet this is also why management and the front desk should establish ways to help make sure they only see clients who are more willing to take action. People who are just confused and want more information should receive it, instead of taking up valuable doctors times when they had no intention or funds to pursue complicated actions to begin with.
Poor management always gets this false idea that they can crank up the profits on staff by increasing demands, while taking no responsibility or action to improve training of the staff under them. But when the above is done, then profits naturally rise.
Finally, in order to increase the speed of ones team there are military group like activities, likes passing objects around in a relay sort of race etc. But more than that should be a wellness first environment. Which basically pushes the staff to take better care of themselves, to spend more time on solutions and less time on drama, to unite in a common effort to increase profits and better serve the clients than to remain divided as the illusionists most desire.
That's really it. Management should not be engaged in endless meeting about all the meeting's that need to take place. It needs to take action. Meetings are not there to try to read the tea leaves and figure out why the company is struggling. It's stress. The general chain of command should be able and wiling to put ideas of solutions in a common shared folder. And then agreed upon good ideas are then met on to work out the kinks of implementation etc.