I’ve been thinking a lot recently about new houses and their construction, what with the building boom and all. It seems as if every second section now transforms itself in simply a matter of weeks – an old house today, pods and new framing the next, and voila, a new something or other the one following that. And in amongst all this of course, are the dedicated home handypersons who titivate their home and section every weekend.
In admiring these endeavours, I’ve often thought how one of the keys to the builders’ or home handypersons’ success, is having the right tools for the job. What a difference it must make, in time and physical effort expended, to have the right thing on hand, when you need it. So speaks the woman who has tried to do wondrous things with only a few paint brushes, a Philips screwdriver and a hammer, in her toolkit. So it is with managers. Many make do with only a few management tools in their toolkit while others get by with tools that are past their use-by date. Some however have the right tools for every eventuality and maintain them, to keep them up to date.
I asked some managers recently what tools were in their management toolkit, which ones they wouldn’t be without and why. Regardless of the size of the organisation, it seems these must be included:
Position Descriptions – These helpful little things are designed to clarify boundaries between roles, determine the key tasks and result areas expected and eliminate organisational chaos. They are particularly effective when they are regularly updated. These and their cousin, ideal person specifications, are a must-have.
Delegation Templates – Much more useful than a quick corridor discussion, written delegations set out the whys and wherefores of a delegated task before a person begins the work in question. They minimise wasted time (going backwards and forwards, getting bits of information) and possible confusion.
Time Management Techniques – So essential to have – diaries, to-do lists, saying no, filing systems, chunking and labelling, bring-up systems…..all need constant use otherwise they become blunt, ineffective or no use at all.
Problem Solving/Decision Making model – Tempting as it may be to make decisions rapidly, these models provide the structure to consider issues fully and make informed decisions on the best options available.
Coaching Model – Contrary to popular belief, coaching isn’t about telling people what to do. Oh no. A coaching model gives an easy to follow, step by step guide that is easy to use and understand and if used correctly in skilled hands, gets results.
Different Personality Types – If you’ve ever wondered why you drive your staff crazy and they, you, then this is the information to have. Knowing what may make people tick and how to work to people’s strengths, is invaluable. It’s especially useful when assembling project teams and assigning work.
Summaries – If 200 page tomes don’t do a thing for you, then succinct plain English summaries on Things You Need to Know, such as the Health and Safety Act; the Human Rights Act; the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act; Privacy Act; the Fair Trading Act, etc, etc, are the ideal tools for busy people.
Journals, Articles, Resource Books – Gathering resources on items of interest as a quick reference are invaluable for people in a hurry and useful to share with colleagues and staff. Good filing and information retrieval systems (so you can easily find things) are critical.
Simple Planning Format – So many plans morph into long winded affairs that require a map and a torch to find the goals, actions and result areas. A simple, effective format is invaluable – for the writer and the readers.
Critical Incident Analysis Template – This versatile tool is perfect for the post-event analysis and getting to the root cause of any incidents/accidents. They’re also a critical component of an organisation’s risk management procedures. This tool enables in-depth analysis and not the once-over-lightly approach.
Referrals – It’s really useful to have known, trusted people to refer colleagues and staff to. Industrial lawyers, accountants, counsellors, psychologists, journalists, marketing advisors, public relations advisors……may be needed in time, by you or others, so a list is essential.
Like any toolkit, management tools require attention. They need regular maintenance, critical evaluation (are they doing what’s needed); replacement (is the tool out of date or not up to the task?); new additions (things change, all the time) and regular use. No point in having the right tools for the job if they’re never used.
When was the last time you spring-cleaned your management toolkit? Or if you haven’t got one with all the tools you need to help you in your role, what are you waiting for?
Dwan & Associates, 1/12/04�