At work, how often do you feel like a chicken with your head cut off? You run around all day handling one crisis after another. You run from one meeting to the next. You take one phone call after another. Yet at the end of the day, you feel as if you've achieved nothing. Or, are you in a situation where you have a few key supervisors or managers that you count on to handle the “critical” issues. However, because they're so busy handling issues, they're not getting “big” things done in the timeframes you need and want them to? In either scenario, you have a problem. And the basic problem is poor utilization of resources. That’s a snazzy way of saying, “Certain people are doing stuff they shouldn't be doing.” So how do you fix this?
The first thing you need to do is to determine who is doing what.
To do this, simply conduct an old time management prioritization technique – but with a twist. Ask each employee to develop a basic list that captures what he or she does in an average week. Simply have them write everything down in any order. Just get the items down – big and small. Then, in front of each item, have them list one of the following codes:
A = task you must do because of your position/title/pay/unique expertise
B = task you need to do as it is a critical part of your position responsibilities/job
C = task you like to do because it’s easy and allows you to take a “mental break” every now and then
D = task you should not be doing because it is a waste of your time, talent, pay scale, etc to do them.
These tasks should be delegated to another position (i.e., to the correct position who should be responsible for this.) For any “D” items, also ask, “Is it even necessary to still do this task this way or at all?” If not, change it or get rid of it.
The second thing you need to do is to determine who could or should learn to do new tasks.
Once, each employee has his or her coded task list, for each A, B & C item have staff identify the positions (and specific people who may hold those positions in the future) who should be trained on how to do each item. This will allow others to be able to handle these tasks when the current “doer” is on vacation, is promoted, or perhaps leaves the organization. For each “D” item, have staff identify the correct position to which this task should be delegated and why. If the task needs to be changed or deleted, also have them list how and why. (Note: I specifically said “position” where I did and not “person” as many employees are not currently fulfilling their position responsibilities because others are doing parts of their jobs for them.)
This is a great exercise for you and your key staff to conduct annually. You'll be amazed at the number of times you’ll find your $60/hour employees handling tasks that your $15/hour employees should be handling – just because they've always done them. Once you identify ways to make better use of your resources (i.e., using them to do the types of tasks their skills, talent, and pay scale require), you'll start seeing your staff’s and your entire organization’s efficiency and productivity rise.
And it all starts by just having people do what they're being paid to do.