New Manager’s Success Plan: Managing Operations
Managing operations requires strategic and tactical skills. Many managerial decisions cannot be made in isolation. As a manager, you need to be able to think “big picture” but yet implement on a tactical level. This requires the ability to understand your organization, its position in the marketplace and which resources are available to support decision making. Managing operations can be challenging even for the most experienced of managers given the dynamics of competition, regulations, organizational politics and competing interests. Consider if using the following can help you be more effective:
Learn about your organizations’ products or services as well as any resource requirements. Review your organization’s website, reports, meeting minutes, press releases, etc. and any publicly available information to help you understand how well your organization performs as well as how it positions itself within the market. Look for trends, talking points and identify who communicates on behalf of the organization. Use this type of information to identify any areas of concern or opportunity and to learn how the organization wants to be represented in the public. For example, you may discover the extent to which new products or services are being promoted and other areas of focus for the organization. You can set up Google® or other alerts to receive the latest updates. This can help supplement the information you receive internally.
Know your numbers! Every organization has financial objectives they must meet to stay in operation. Obtain this information early and take the steps necessary to ensure you understand your organization’s numbers and the extent to which your department and employees have contributed to them. Learn about financial projections and the cost of doing business. Organizations tend to retain (and promote) managers who save or make money. You need to understand financial goals and challenges in order to recommend cost saving measures and other opportunities to your supervisor.
Understand policies and procedures. Follow purchasing and other guidelines and ensure your employees do as well. Ramifications for not following guidelines could negatively impact your reputation, cost you your job or, depending upon the circumstances, result in legal action against you or your organization.
Proactively communicate with employees. Being a poor communicator can be the downfall of an otherwise capable manager. Remember that your words and actions need to align if you’re going to establish and maintain a reputation as a competent and reliable manager. Establish norms for communication with your employees so they know what to expect and how to react in the absence of information.
Be consistent with all employees. It’s best to treat employees consistently when setting goals, recognizing good performance or handling discipline. Failure to do so can impede performance, negatively impact morale or even result in turnover. Managers also risk allegations of favoritism or discrimination when treating employees inconsistently.
Do not discuss religion, politics or sex in the workplace. This may depend upon what type of organization you work for but not discussing these topics can prevent incorrect assumptions and allegations and help prevent you from unintentionally damaging your reputation or even losing your job. Strive to create an environment appealing to all employees.
Empower employees. Encourage employees to make decisions about how they complete their work. Help employees feel invested in their jobs. Eliminate approval steps when possible and strive to find ways for employees to own processes from beginning to end. Give employees information and the autonomy to do their jobs. Find sources of stress and eliminate them if possible. You can empower employees but if they’re stressed they cannot perform at peak levels.
Use goal setting to guide performance. Employees can increase their productivity and effectiveness if they understand what they’re striving toward and know that they have the support they need to make progress.
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