A Four-Step Management Process
Keeps Women in Management
If you follow these four steps of the management process for every project or task you are assigned, either individually or as a team, it is much less likely anything will “fall through the cracks”.
Planning – Good managers don’t need to develop a long-term, strategic plan to be effective. In fact long-range planning these days often only looks out a quarter or a year at most – the business environment changes too fast to lock in plans for much longer.
You need a short-term plan, specific to the goal you are working to achieve, - one that you can communicate to your team with an appropriate sense of urgency.
- Figure out what your goal is (assuming your boss hasn’t told you) then figure out the best way to get there.
- Be sure you have the resources you need.
- Look at the strengths and weakness of your resources (people, money and senior management support) then optimize them (time-line for completion, number of people you can allocate, deciding to rent or buy needed equipment for cost effectiveness, etc.).
- Then look at all the possible scenarios and plan for them, including a worst case. Develop, evaluate, then select a plan that has the highest probability for success. The most overlooked part of planning is asking the following important question: “What could go wrong”? It’s well worth a brief brainstorming session with your team to identify even the remotest possibility.
One of the most effective management process tools is to ask the people who will actually be doing the work for their input!
Organizing – now that you have a plan, ask the following questions of yourself:
- Do all your team members know what they are supposed to do?
- Are your team members trained and motivated for what they need to do?
- Do they have everything they need?
- Are “spare parts” available, just in case?
Doing this legwork ahead of time ensures that everything is ready to go, when its needed.
Directing – your plan is in place, everything is organized:
- Think of directing as conducting an orchestra – everyone knows how to play their instrument, everyone has a score in front of them, knows what notes to play, and when to play. If you have team members who can play more than one instrument, you’re way ahead of the game
- Tap your baton and start the music! All your team needs is for you to give them the downbeat!
- Finally, encourage them! Wish them luck! If your goal is time-sensitive, maybe offer them an incentive to finish ahead of time and/or a “bonus” for extra quality
Monitoring – now that everything is moving ahead, keep your eye on everything. This is the final step of the management process.
- Stay on top of everything. Make sure individual tasks are on schedule. If not, pause and adjust your plan.
- When something goes wrong, as it inevitably will, that’s why you have a contingency plan.
- Continue to monitor, particularly the results of changes you put in place.
No matter how well you know what to do to accomplish an assignment, be scrupulous about following all four steps!
Once you have gone through the management process several times, the four steps will become second nature to you. Until they do, keep a “yellow sticky” posted in a place where you can quickly glance at it. In the heat of the moment, one step could easily be overlooked.
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