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Preparing for the Future, Part 3

In this third article we’ll take a brief look at what good owners and managers know. What they know is that their personnel perform better when they are aware of the following:

What they are supposed to do. This hearkens back to the first article in this series where we discussed clearcut assignments and needs no further comment here.

What authority they have. Authority should go along with responsibility and accountability. You really can’t have one without the other. They’re the three legs of stable team management.

What their relationships are with other people. In every organization, there is a chain of command. It may be as specific and detailed as in the military, or it may be as loose as deciding who is in charge for this project on this day. The key is who reports to whom, who is whose peer and who has ultimate authority, responsibility and accountability.

What the standards are for a job well done. We discussed setting standards in the first article. This comment is aimed at making clear to people when their work is unacceptable, acceptable and particularly well done. Unacceptable work must not be tolerated. Acceptable work is just that and no more. But setting high standards for a job that earns a “well done” and explaining them and rewarding those who do well is a key to improving overall performance.

What they are doing exceptionally well. Every organization has one or more superstar. When people per-form to that level, not only should they be recognized and rewarded but they can be used as a benchmark for future improvement in quality, productivity and safety.

Where they are falling short. Even the best worker can suffer a drop in performance. When that happens, it is incumbent on you to point this out and to deal with it. As discussed in last month’s article, if someone continues to fall short despite motivation, teaching and training, then that too must be dealt with. And, the sooner the better.

That what they are doing is of value. Every job has value, and that must be made clear. Whether talking to the newest hire, the seasoned veteran, the journeyman or the cleanup crew, the smart thing is to make them all be—and feel—part of the team.

That management is aware of what they need to get their jobs done properly and on time. Those needs include knowledge, skills and tools of the trade. Educational opportunities are important, whether it be in the classroom or on the job. Constant training on job skills will not only improve their performance but enhance the bottom line for the company. Finally, the old adage of the right tool for the job should be part of the way things are done. Making do, using the wrong tool, using outmoded or outdated technology is a sign of poor management and is the road to failure.

L. Douglas Mault is president of Executive Advisory Institute, Portland, Ore. The Web site is; he can be reached at (888) 428.3331.

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