Thought about your New Year's resolutions? They're not only for your personal life-you may want to think about them for your work as a manager, too.
Most resolutions focus on improving some aspect of our behavior-saving more money, eating healthier foods, spending more time on important things in life. Most resolutions, however, don't have two important elements: methods and outcomes. Or if there are outcomes, they can be unrealistic. We say something vague like, "I'll spend more time reading good books." Or perhaps, "I'll lose 50 pounds by February for Valentine's Day." These resolutions can't and won't be fulfilled.
So if managers were making resolutions, what might they sound like? "I'll make my department the most productive in the business." Or, "I'll surpass all previous sales records." Or maybe, "I'll organize my time better." How will you achieve these resolutions, and in what way will you get there?
Perhaps you don't have resolutions. You have goals instead. It definitely is good business practice to have goals and objectives-what I call GO management. One problem with GO management is that we do just that-go-as we begin to work towards the achievement. We don't think too much about how to get there.
Yet there are some nagging questions. What are our methods to reach goals? In our management system, are there methods in place to:
Understand our business or manufacturing process enough to know where there are flaws or waste?
Know where the knowledge gaps are, and the training needed to overcome those gaps?
Accurately measure productivity?
Fair ways to assess the need for performance improvement in the employees who are to help the goals happen?
So perhaps the resolution method or the GO management style overlooks many critical factors to achieve and advance in business. The New Year is a good time to do a thorough assessment of how work actually gets done in your workplace. There are two key steps in such an assessment: systems analysis and performance improvement.
There are a number of proven methods to do a systems analysis. One that's in vogue right now is called 6 Sigma. It's an excellent approach to defect elimination in the manufacturing process, which then addresses the waste of time, materials, and energy. Others find the General Electric Workout method helpful when looking at integration of different manufacturing units and eliminating bureaucracy and time waste. Yet another is supply-chain analysis. Despite the different systems analysis approaches, the desired outcome is the same: improvement in business practice.
The other side of the review is the need for performance improvement. When a systems analysis reveals the need for process improvements, the typical response is, "We just need to get our people working harder and smarter." One of the problems in 6 Sigma, for example, is documentation of process flaws sometimes results in a managerial demand to employees that they'd better change how they do their work. But how? What retraining is necessary? How should we change productivity standards?
We rarely get to these questions, and the result is employee discontent. We want and need their help to achieve the goals and advance the business. But we may not know how to translate process improvement to performance improvement. There's a terrific opportunity available in Peoria this year: the Human Performance Improvement program offered through the Heart of Illinois Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development (HOI-ASTD). The HPI program trains managers and human resource specialists in how to translate process improvement needs into performance improvement practices. For those who complete the program, there's certification awarded through HOI-ASTD. It's an excellent program that will bring performance improvement to a new level of professionalism.
You have resolutions, and you have goals for yourself. I believe a strategy for success is essential for goal and resolution achievement. Through systems analysis and performance improvement methods, you can make this the best year ever in terms of personal performance, productivity improvement, and managerial capacity. GO for it-and take advantage of the opportunities right here in our area to make your personal life, your work, and your business find a new level of excellence. IBI