Saturday, August 27, 2011

Getting The Best From Employees

Are you good at following directions?

Recently I've been supervising a team with a project that has a limited run time and  well documented (if not so well organised) procedures and schedule to which they run. And by the way - I didn't design this process!

The team is a comprised of different aged people, from mid 30's to 70s and to a person, quite intelligent and self driven. As we get toward the end of the project, some issues arise that are things that we've covered off on in one-on-one discussions, and of course are in the procedures in full detail. Some things we have covered off on several times. And yet they arise as a surprise to some of the team!

Which got me thinking.

Sometimes we make things harder than need be the case.

An irritation for me during this project has been the large amount of detail to get across, but without a clear context of what's Important and what's just important.  What's a Must Get Right and what's good to get right but won't break anything if not every I is dotted and every T crossed.  Since I tend to work best with an understanding of the global concept (big picture) and then the detail, this has seemed a bit akin to being given a jigsaw puzzle to do - without a lid to the box to see what the thing is supposed to look like when it is done.

 Are you good at giving directions?

People are not all the same. Some people just want to know the details that relate to them, and others (like me) want to know how it all fits together in order for any of it to make sense. But we don't always give good directions or format them in ways that accomodate these different styles. Keep in mind there is no right or wrong kind - just different and we can streamline much that is to be done through producing directions that allow for both types to be covered.

If you have good instructions for new work you have to do be glad! But if you are faced without a clear map of how it all comes together, a good idea is to map it out first and create your own guide to capture any information that turns up that wasn't covered in the instructions.
Make a List!
  • Draw the project up as a mindmap diagram
  • What are the critical elements in this project that need to be covered off 
  • Write a checklist for each section that can work as a cheat sheet to which you can refer. 
  • Check if there are any materials or resources or extras that you need to get this done but aren't included
  • Verify what your understanding is for the actions you need to take before you begin
  • Clarify and resolve any ambiguity that arises
  • Follow the instructions for the procedure! 
  • Again... Follow the instructions!
Whether you are the one carrying out the work, or the person writing the instructions, make it easy for these steps to be done and you'll save a heap of time, aggravation and unnecessary stress along the way. And get a better outcome as a result.

If you are creating projects to be carried out by others, then ensure you design a process to make it easy for those who will bring it to fruition to feel competent and smart.

So the team has done very well.

It's been fun to work with a range of ages and personalities doing something new and that's always great for building new neural pathways, for everyone concerned.

And gave me a blog to write!

Do you have a favourite tip for learning new processes? Please share your comment below.

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