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Tracking other people's work.

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  • Tracking other people's work.

    As manager of an audit practice, I have to not only manage my list of tasks, but also make sure my employees have work and are getting things done in a timely manner. They are often responsible for completing an entire project on their own and I supervise as needed and review the work. My source of stress isn't that I can't remember to buy batteries at the store, but that there are all these various jobs floating around that I am responsible for, yet are not actually doing the work.

    Anyone have a similar situation or some suggestions. I know it would be great if everyone at the office used GTD, but that just isn't going to happen.

  • #2
    Some ideas:

    You can control a list of projects of you staff. You can have a projects-delegated list for that purpose or just have an excel sheet with a list of projects, responsible staff and other details you need.

    You can also control actions of delegated projects. I think it worth for the most important of delegated projects or you will be overloaded. In this case put an action to update status of the project or check that some action is done into your @Waiting folder.

    That were ideas. Hope there's a solution that was checked by a professional manager in real world for a few years. Or at least some principles to model what should be done.

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    • #3
      Here's my way

      I manage a team of 5 devolopers and system analysts. Here the way I discovered to work for myself:

      1. I use outlook task for every project of mini-project ( some achievable outcome).
      For example: "create revenues olap cube" or "prepare quarterly ARPU analysis presentation"
      2. As a task category I put the responsible person's name (or several names)
      3. At the first meeting with directs responsible I write inside the task what is the desired outcome that we would like to achieve at the end of the project and when this is going to happen.
      I also write what are the intermediate tasks and results that the person responsible is to do and BY WHEN. I write the date of the meeting inside the task also. And I set the due date of the task as the date by which we agreed to meet again and review the intermediate results.
      4. I schedule the follow-up meeting ahead at the due date RIGHT AWAY (while we are still at the current meeting with the person responsible). I discovered this (scheduling the next meeting at the conclusion of the current meeting) to be on of the greatest productivity boosts. ALWAYS SET THE NEXT MEETING NOW - even if its just a status update
      5. I send to the person responsible the task at the end of the meeting so he/she knows exactly what to do and by when (and he/she was there with you while setting tasks amd deadlines so he/she feels more dedicated to accomplishing the task on time)
      6. When the intermediate date arrives I open the task, add to task notes the current date while talking to the person responsible I update the results that have been achieved based on the previous meeting outline. I also write the tasks that have to be accomplished till the next meeting and so forth.
      7. beside project meetings I also have 1 on 1 meetings with my directs. there it is so convenient to open this person's category and see all his/hers tasks so we can go over them and see if there are expected problems our delays.

      It took me a couple of years to get to the current system and there's much to improve, but the system its working for me and whats more important - my directs just love it. It saves them time and frustration.

      Hope this helps.
      Good luck.
      Michael

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      • #4
        If they're not doing the work...

        I'm a freelancer and if I don't do the work I'm contracted to do, then I don't get paid. If an employee isn't doing their work, then you should explain to them what the consequences are, like getting fired.

        Since you're the manager, you have the responsibility to make sure that the work is getting done. Keep a bit better track of the work done (and how long it takes to be done via waiting for lists) and show them the evidence in a monthly, bi-monthly, 6 month or yearly interview. Show them the evidence of how much was expected of them as output, the tasks that were delegated/assigned to them and using your waiting fors and other information, show them they are not meeting the standards that they agreed to by working in that position.

        After that just outline the consequences, according to your business culture. -get fired, demoted, re-assigned, reduction in pay, or whatever works for the situation. Just make sure they understand it's a consequence of their own action (or inaction) by showing them the evidence you have gathered, and not because you "don't like" them.

        I'm not saying you should just fire someone because of trivial things. People are not expendable like parts in a machine and should never be treated as such. But if you're following the GTD model then you should be flexible enough to allow for both marginal adjustments and more drastic measures.

        While I personally believe that fear is by far the worst motivator of all, some people have been trained (by culture, family, history, church, etc.) to only act when motivated by fear (lose their job). If you're willing to invest the time, money, and effort to train that fear out of them then good for you. But if you're not, then maybe a new employee (who doesn't have this problem) would be a better choice.

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        • #5
          some people need different kinds of structure from others

          Here is a link to executive functions in regard to ADHD but I think it is applicable to work functions in general. I think it speaks to dfferent people needing different kinds of tracking of their work by a manager or supervisor.

          There are probably other ways to look at things like this. Interestiingly, some of my most efficient coworkers and reports needed no oversight to meet deadlines and keep up a good volume but the work they did just meet the minimal standards and they could not or would not read articles, go to workshops or emulate models that showed a richer, deeper, or more meaningful quality of work. In fact, they took it as a personal criticism if they were asked to expand on something or consider a new idea. On the other hand, the folks whose work was more creative and done with a eye for incorporating new ideas, creating new formats, de-emphasizing something common place to spot light something new seemed to always have trouble starting, stopping, meeting deadlines. This group often had ideas for working more efficiiently on the mundane stuff but then put a lot of energy into the "extras".

          http://www.drthomasebrown.com/pdfs/E...omas_Brown.pdf

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          • #6
            Similar issues in college teaching

            If students are in some sense like those being supervised -- and I think they are -- then my job as a college teacher raises similar issues. I have tried, in one senior course where students complete a largely independent project, to require a "weekly review" patterned more or less after the David Allen model. Some students did it, and others just "blew it off." And I also have those who submit work on time but without creativity, and a rare few who procrastinate but then come through with superbly intelligent papers. There is diversity, for sure. Still, I think that the discipline of weekly (or at least regular) review is very helpful. And for students, if an assignment (such as a weekly progress report) counts for points, it's much more likely to be done!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by SoonerRyan View Post
              Anyone have a similar situation or some suggestions. I know it would be great if everyone at the office used GTD, but that just isn't going to happen.
              In this case, I think it 'should' happen already.

              Using a task management software or something similar will not only benefit you but the entire team or workplace for that matter.

              Based on experience, I actually am in a similar situation. However, for us it is in a way greatly needed. I manage a team of freelance workers. Each employee works on their own computers, location and timezone. Having a software or system like that to monitor the work hours and tasks is the only way to keep things organized.

              As long as they know up to what extent they are tracked and that the tracking is non-invasive with regard to privacy, everything should be fine.

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              • #8
                Simple. A list per member of staff, with all the projects that you are interested in making sure they complete in it. Go over it in the weekly review and you can feel on top of what your teams are doing.

                Its also a useful tool for staff meetings and one on one supervision meetings - and reminding you about projects you should be doing.

                I see no need to micromanage staff members by tracking their next actions, or even getting them to share their with me, I trust my staff too much. And if they let me down, it was their responsibility.

                Obviously this is different to where you are working alongside your team on a specific piece of work, when you might create waiting fors when they say they will do something.

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                • #9
                  I am a freelancer and I experience this with clients or contacts at clients a lot. Most of the time it is: people don't know how.

                  Even if they wanted. They have no idea whatsoever how to do the agreed on work.

                  They don't know how to do it and they don't know how to start.

                  I had many calls and emails basically teaching grown-ups do part of their jobs. My commercial solution is to build trainings into my production cycle and bill for them.

                  Based on that experience: maybe your staff just isn't sure about how to start?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by bishblaize View Post
                    Simple. A list per member of staff, with all the projects that you are interested in making sure they complete in it. Go over it in the weekly review and you can feel on top of what your teams are doing.

                    Its also a useful tool for staff meetings and one on one supervision meetings - and reminding you about projects you should be doing.

                    I see no need to micromanage staff members by tracking their next actions, or even getting them to share their with me, I trust my staff too much. And if they let me down, it was their responsibility.

                    Obviously this is different to where you are working alongside your team on a specific piece of work, when you might create waiting fors when they say they will do something.
                    This is very much how I manage my group of business analysts. We have weekly reviews but by no means could I possibly manage each of their next actions. They've got way to much going on plus, I peronsally wouldn't find it the best use of my time. I wouldn't go there unless there was an issue with a particular person meeitng deadlines and then, I would address it individually.

                    I use OneNote for each of my associates to document our conversations and in our next weekly check-in, use that to follow-up.

                    Hope this helps.

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