Friday, October 14, 2005

Seven Strategies to Manage Your Operation More Effectively

By Rama Ramaswami

As the holiday season approaches, it's time to make resolutions for next year -- and this time around, perhaps the wisest resolution you can make, in today's competitive workplace, is to become a better, more effective manager. According to business strategist Chuck Martin, it is vital for overworked managers to learn to keep things in perspective. Although 95% of executives keep a list of things to do during the workday, Martin says, 99% do not complete the tasks on those lists. In a column written for Darwin magazine, Martin offers these seven practical ways to deliver the results that high-profile corporations demand without caving in to pressure or losing work-life balance:

1. Communicate clearly.
You may believe that you are doing so, but the message may not be getting through. Tough management requires an overabundance of communication that is clear, concise, timely, and truthful.

2. Force the hard decisions.
Most executives and managers say their superiors do not deal with tough decisions right away. Managers need to collect all the necessary information available at the time, make the decision, communicate it, and then move on. The toughest decisions involve people, but they still have to be dealt with in a timely manner.

3. Focus on results.
Tough management requires that every person identify exactly the results that matter most and determine the actions that produce those results. This requires focus, working smarter, increasing productivity, and delegating. It also means being more realistic about what results are being demanded and what tools and time frame must be provided to deliver those results.

4. Remain flexible.
Managers today need to be self-organized to be able to change directions quickly. Tough management requires pushing back and saying "no" at times, as well as morphing to be flexible. It also requires stopping something at work and viewing yourself as more of a "virtual enterprise."

5. Prove your value to the company.
It is essential that you align with your company's values so that you can prove your value inside the enterprise. This means accepting even more new challenges and becoming the person everyone turns to for solutions. However, there is a fine line between proving your value and having the organization take advantage of you. Working away from the office and using commuting time can help focus more on what you deliver rather than on number of hours worked.

6. Force collaboration.
Teamwork at every level is required for tough management. This involves new levels of information sharing and a new willingness to learn.

7. Practice tough management without being a tough guy.
You can deliver quantitative results without being brutal to subordinates in the process. Tough management requires executives and managers to pause if the workload and hours worked are getting out of control, potentially causing lost perspective. It means breaking away, improving employee morale, and taking steps to protect talent. It also involves recognizing people for doing a good job and providing what is necessary for them to do their jobs better.