Saturday, May 19, 2012

Advice For New Managers - The Rapid Status Snapshot

How can new managers get a rapid snapshot of their team whilst understanding the urgent and important issues that need addressing? By using a 9 point plan a methodical and precise approach can ensure new managers are aware of their team and, critically, all urgent and important issues.

1. Performing quickly and efficiently is based on a rapid status assessment of issues to address and assigning priorities to them. A 90 day action plan, split into 30 - 60 - 90 day sections, needs to be created by the new manager. It is vital to get the broadest possible input at an early stage in the plan's creation to make sure all possible data sources are considered before assigning priority work. Any existing plans and their status, success or otherwise must be understood. In building the plan distinction needs to be made between urgent and important work, not everything that is urgent is important and not everything that is important is urgent. Getting the balance of urgency and importance of the work to be done is vital to allocating team resources.

2. Whilst talking to different people and asking for their views of what needs to be done the list may start get quite long. One technique to prioritise which issues get immediate attention is to ask "what will happen if I don't do this task and what will happen if I do do the task." By examining the consequences of taking action or delaying work you can better decide what to prioritise.

3. Legal matters are highly sensitive and very confidential but the new manager must at least know what's happening if any of the team, customers or business partners are involved with, or threatening to take legal action. It is quite unusual for this to happen but the new manager must make certain to be aware of such matters.

4. Financial matters are concerned with costs and expenses or payments and income. New managers should know about budgets for the team and how the team is performing against that budget. Ask for a written summary of budgets, approval levels and any other details from the finance department or direct manager.

5. Customer, or any recipients of your team's work, satisfaction needs constant monitoring, if the previous manager left the job some weeks before the new manager started work some customers maybe feeling neglected. The team or the support desk should know which customers need attention. This demonstrates an approach to the job in an organised businesslike approach and sends a message of customer focus from the start.

6. Based on input from senior management and the HR department any people risks in the team should be identified. For example star performers could be threatening to leave or poor performers in some kind of HR process. Find out who the new members of the team are, they might need some support and are often the best source of information for a new manager.

7. The team should be able to tell the new manager what key customer deliverables are due in the next 90 days, and what potentials risks could affect them. This information can be compared to what senior management explain is needed and will complete the customer profiling.

8. Operating processes and reporting procedures of the team need to be understood, and why they are carried out. These can of course often be changed but initially there is a need to understand the existing situation.

9. Infrastructure issues range from people getting paid on time or receiving their expenses on time to problems with Information Technology or even phone systems all make people very frustrated. People who work from small remote offices or are based at home are especially vulnerable to such problems. New managers with remote teams need to make a special point of visiting people based in remote offices and or calling them into the headquarters occasionally to find out what they are concerned about.

Using this 9 point plan new managers can ensure they quickly assess the job they need to do, and above all what is urgent and important.

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