Monitoring Work

Part 3 of the Mini-Series: “New to Management” We have talked about knowing your people, which helps you to set better expectations. Now we are going to focus on monitoring work of your people.

Let’s take the example of you have an expectation that you will be traveling by car from Phoenix, Arizona to New York City in 4 days to present to a conference on December 4th. A SMART goal? I think so. We all know that you need to have a map to make this happen. You can plan out your course and off you go. Let’s say you give that expectation to 3 different people. Would they choose the same route? Probably not. Like our day jobs, each person may have a different way of getting to the end result – what matters is the end result. We are going to focus on monitoring work towards the end result. Back to our example – there are many ways to track progress to end result. Highlight the map as you end the day.. Revisit your path and calculate each days needs. For you people they can do the same thing and phone in where they are to you. You can then track progress.

Monitoring work is extremely important. Since I have had manager roles in various business units – some roles have some really well defined monitoring tools. As a manager in a high volume manufacturing facility, you can bet that there will be plenty of ways to take how the shift is doing towards theoretical and the weekly output goals. There never is a question there. Other manager roles are a bit different. There “tools” available to you may not be as easy. You may have to get creative. Here are some of the examples I use to keep a eye on monitoring work.

  • Using the template for the SMART goals, I review those with my people monthly to track their overall progress toward the end result. Treat this one like performance against their schedule.
  • Weekly review meetings – that are short and sweet. 8 people can do a 15 minute review. 90 secs to go over what was completed last week, what is up on the work schedule this week and any help needed. We follow this up with everyone writing them in our workspace.
  • Our projects are tracked in a database – so, I have some basic reports to get in front of me on performance against task schedules, project manager confidence and so on.

The key only thing that you monitor is that beside you, your people have access to the information real time. Having them track their own progress is a point not to miss. Most people do not want to fail. Giving them the tools to monitor their own performance will insure that they do not.

As a new manager, there are some pitfalls to watch out for:

  • If you were a member of the team before becoming the manager, you have to watch out for the your preconceived understanding of the person’s performance. Watch out for when he was my teammate he never completed stuff on-time. He will be late now.
  • Mistaking activity for accomplishment. Make sure that you focus on the end result. Not all the stops along the way. The simple question – where are we to completion?
  • Incomplete information which causes you to make assumptions. Insure that you have the facts, listen and react properly.

Key Tip: Monitoring work should be both the employee and managers role. Having regular discussions on overall performance towards the end result should be the focus. Not everyone is going to take the same route to the end result, the route should not matter. Monitoring the progress to the end result – should.