High Output Management

Find out what successful management is all about.

It might seem that management is a tough task. A lot is expected from managers, they have to listen and talk to their staff, they have to coordinate the workflow and they have to improve the overall performance. However, is it possible for one person to handle all of that?

This article will help you discover all the key tasks that a manager has to do and the essential information you need to know about your employees. You will learn the proper way of collecting the required information so you can decide which decisions are the right ones, the best ways to motivate your workers and how you can enhance their performance.

Additionally, you will learn:

  • What’s the connection between management and serving breakfast;
  • The best ways to discover if a certain employee lacks motivation; and
  • Why managers should consider consulting a sports coach.

Managing a company is like serving breakfast - it requires a sound understanding of production processes.

You might dismiss this, but being a waiter gives you the necessary experience to be able to manage a production process in a company.

How so?

Truth is, managing a production process is very similar to serving breakfast. For example, you are given a job where you need to serve a three-minute boiled egg, toast and coffee, which means you are already involved with the most important requirements of production. You need to respond to demand by bringing a product which has to be served within a certain timeframe. At the same time, you need to meet the projections for quality and reduce the costs.

To manage all these tasks, you always have to go to basics and remember the first question of production: Which of this steps is the toughest?

With serving breakfast, it has to be boiling the egg because it wastes the most time. All the additional steps need to be set in place based on the hardest one so you can complete your task in a timely manner.

After discovering what step is the most important when it comes to production, your position as a manager comes in place because you will need to find the best way to take advantage of the resources you possess by spending the least amount of money.

Think for a second that a waiter has to stand and wait to use the toaster while the customers expect their food. How to solve this problem? The usual options are to ask help from a colleague, to prepare the toast beforehand or to get a new toaster.

Managers should be the ones who discover and fix problems like this one and some of their solutions could be, hiring extra work, increasing inventory, or getting more equipment. However, keep in mind that every choice will cost money and the manager has to make the most cost-effective decision.

Another thing managers need to do is to detect problems. This is because problems can appear at any time during production. To do damage control it’s important to find these problems as soon as possible.

For instance, if your kitchen ends up having a lot of rotten eggs, it's better if you discover that while they are in the fridge and not when they are getting boiled or being served. The manager has to be prepared to monitor every production process.

Managers need to know how to select production indicators and extract important information from them.

Normally, a manager can’t be at several places at the same time. To be able to monitor everything, the manager needs to prepare good measurements.

To accomplish this, the manager needs to pick at least 5 indicators that are put in front of him every day when he gets to work.

The sales forecasts should be the first indicator. This will tell the manager what’s the number of breakfasts he will have to make that they.

The next indicator should be inventory levels. The manager needs to know how many loaves of bread, eggs, and pounds of coffee are located in the reserves.

The third one is the condition of the equipment. If a toaster broke the day before, it’s important to replace it before rush hour begins the next day.

Then we have the workforce updates. The manager needs to know how many employees he has at his disposal at all times. If someone got sick, a replacement needs to be found immediately.

Last but not least we have the indicator that measures the public opinion. This one is quite simple, did the customers enjoy the breakfast they had?

However, possessing these indicators isn’t enough; the manager needs to be able to find all the necessary information within these indicators. Putting two indicators together is a good way of doing that.

For example, to better maintain your inventory, put it against the sales forecast. That way you will see if you can expect an inventory shortage and fix the problems before it occurs.

You also need to pair these indicators with the results they brought in. To give an example, if you were assessing the quality of a salesperson you wouldn’t only look at the number of calls that person made but also the number of successful deals he made.

Another thing you can do with indicators is to obtain useful information by analyzing trends. For example, a manager can count the number of breakfasts that he made this month and then compare that number to the previous month. That way he will know his performance and he will be able to foresee if he will make less or more breakfasts during the next month.

A manager holds many responsibilities and her success depends on that of her team.

Even though sometimes it doesn’t seem so, management is always a team effort. This is exactly the reason why a manager is rated based on the achievements of the whole team and not his personal performance.

To give an example, if a manager is good at production planning, allocation of resources and discovering mistakes, however, the staff doesn’t execute the plan properly, the manager is still responsible for that outcome.

So the question is, how to improve your team’s overall performance?

Gathering and sharing essential information is considered to be the most important responsibility when working in a team.

Usually fast, informal conversations are the easiest way to do that. Truth is, a casual talk between manager and worker is much better than sending memos.

Another important responsibility is asking team members to give you written reports. It takes a lot of discipline to write a report which in turn allows the employee to reflect on their job and better understand her current tasks.

However, managers need to make decisions which makes gathering information an even more important responsibility. For instance, the decision to start a new branch or hire new workers falls directly on the manager. He won’t be able to make these decisions if he doesn’t have all the required information.

Last but not least, the manager needs to be a role model for his workers. A manager needs to find different ways on how to motivate his workers. Every manager that puts in a lot of working hours and is dedicated to the job will be a fantastic example for his employees.

Make sure you note that values can’t be transferred through simple conversations and memos. The manager should be the person who shows the rest of the workers how to act. Leading by example is very important in management.

Meetings are an essential managerial tool and they come in different types.

Most managers don’t enjoy meetings. Peter Drucker who is a leader when it comes to modern management stated that if a manager spends more than 25 percent of his time in meetings has a poor organization plan. However, meetings are still a very important routine for any manager.

Meetings are the starting points for all other activities. So far we have said that the most important duties of a manager are accumulating information, decision making and being a role model. All of these can’t be done properly without having meetings.

Based on that, don’t be worried about spending a lot of time on meetings. They are necessary for any manager.

On the other hand, meetings can be quite different. There are mission-oriented meetings that are intended to solve certain problems by making a decision. These meetings are usually held in cases of an emergency.

There is another type of meeting and it’s called process-oriented. In these meetings, information and thoughts on matters that are not an emergency are discussed. These meetings are more often between a worker and a supervisor.

If you have untrained employees, these meetings should be held at least once a week. For instance, in a marketing environment where changes occur daily this type of meeting should be held more often. On the other hand, they can be held less frequently in a research department.

These meetings should last about an hour and they should be held somewhere in the vicinity of the employee’s workspace. There you can also check your worker’s desk and you will be able to discover if he is an organized person or is someone who gets distracted easily.

It’s a manager’s responsibility to foster motivation.

Let’s imagine a certain employee is not meeting expectations. Are you aware that you can quickly discover if his skills are lacking or he is just not motivated enough?

Ask yourself this, “could he perform his task if his life depended on it?”

If the answer is yes, that worker is most probably having issues motivating himself. It’s not possible to be good at playing the violin without having some music training. However, if you were running from a serial killer, I am sure you would run 10 miles without stopping even if you were in a bad shape. Fact is, employees who are not pulling their weight are either lacking skills or they are not motivated enough.

With that being said, it’s no wonder that motivation is one of the most important things when it comes to management. The biggest reason behind this is the fact that the number of knowledge workers has grown a lot in the past years. Think about this, it’s very easy to calculate the quality of work that was done by a manual worker. If you have a bricklayer who is not motivated he will make a crooked wall.

On the other hand, when it comes to knowledge workers, it’s harder to immediately notice whether a task was done correctly unless you are a real expert in the field. This shows that it’s crucial that your workers maintain a high level of motivation. Because the errors that can occur could be costly.

The manager should be the one motivating the employees. However, motivation has to happen within, meaning the manager needs to create a positive environment where all the employees will be able to stay motivated.

The best way of achieving this is by finding out if your employees are achievement-driven or competence-driven.

The first type are individuals who are driven by success. This type of workers should be put in an environment that has a very ambitious setting so they can enjoy it.

The second type of workers get motivated when they expand their skills and knowledge. Imagine a musician who practices day and night to improve his technique. The manager should motivate these workers to give him some concrete results and that way switch their focus away from only self-improvement.

Employees can’t be motivated by financial rewards alone; they need feedback and support from their managers.

All employees expect some kind of reward for the job they did. Money is often the preferred choice, but is it always the best one?

These days money is probably the best motivator, however, that’s not always the case.

For instance, rich people look at money as proof of their success. A rich person prefers other types of motivation because he doesn’t care how much money the job will earn him.

On the other hand, simple workers who use their salaries to support themselves and their families find money to be a great motivator. However, this is true until a certain point, where their standard of living is decent an all their needs are fulfilled. When a worker reaches this stage he starts seeking different rewards.

The question is, how to keep employees at their top performance level?

By creating a system that reflects their success. This is probably the only way that allows workers to gradually progress.

Have a look at competence-driven employees who always want to expand their skills. To motivate them you need to show them there is still room for improvement. If you don’t show them their potential, they will lose the desire to better themselves.

A manager can create performance reviews that will rate the employee based on his achievements and that way he can show the worker his potential for improvement.

Keep in mind that you need to be careful when doing this. Some of the achievement-driven people can get scared by the fear of failure and they could begin underperforming. Talk to your employees and make them understand that failure should be accepted and that you will always support them.

To enhance performance, managers should encourage competition at work and take on the role of a coach.

Have you ever come across people in your office who seem very slow and unmotivated during work, but you see them running a full marathon in their free time.

What do you think motivates this type of people?

The short answer is probably their desire to beat others.

This happens because, during a competition, people like to take on different kinds of challenges. Having the motivation to run the distance, or win a competition is mostly the result of self-actualization, a term that was first introduced by the renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow back in 1954.

Every individual that believes he can be the best at some challenge, has the motivation to accept that challenge. That person will then have the urge to reach his potential and actualize himself through that challenge. This is why the best place for self-actualization is competitive sports.

How does this affect the manager?

The manager has to create a competitive environment in the workplace. This means allowing employees to compare each other, based on how they finish their assigned tasks. For example, the company Intel had a maintenance service that had a lousy performance for years until one day a program was put in place which grouped all the different maintenance teams into competition with each other, by rating the work they did and comparing the achieved scores.

The only incentive these people had was the desire to beat the other teams. Thanks to this the performance of the cleaning teams went up dramatically, once again showing that competition is essential to increasing performance.

In some cases, a manager should act like a sports coach. For instance, a good coach never takes credit for the team’s accomplishments and it should be the same when it comes to managers.

Sometimes coaches have to be tough with their players if they want them to perform better. Excellent managers need to find the right way to give their employees some constructive criticism.

There’s no perfect management style, but there is a way to find the right style for the situation.

I am sure you are asking yourself whether there is a management approach that’s better than all the rest. Not really.

When it comes to management changes are constantly happening so a perfect style can’t be created. Back in the twentieth century, management was based on hierarchy and it was really harsh. Everyone was supposed to follow orders, without questioning the superiors.

With time, management went through serious changes and the individual employee was taken into consideration for the first time, instead of just his productivity. This was a huge transformation, but it didn’t lead towards an optimal style that everyone would use.

Nevertheless, there are perfect methods for every situation and most researchers can point to the right one based on various variables. This style of evaluating your underlings is known as task-relevant maturity or TRM.

The style consists of the employee’s tendencies towards achievements, as well as training, practical knowledge and education. Because of this, a worker can have a high TRM for a certain task and low one for another task.

For example, the TRM of a sales manager’s is definitely high for sales, however, it’s probably low when it comes to managing the production process. Asking this person to do the later won’t bring positive results.

This proves that TRM levels can be different and in order to control them different styles of management have to be used. If a worker has a low TRM for some task, the manager needs to explain in detail how the task should be accomplished.

With time, the TRM of that employee will increase and the manager can stop his huge involvement.

These way the worker and the manager have a relationship that is close to the one between a parent and his child. As the kid grows older and learns more about the world, the parent can reduce his involvement. It’s the same with employees, with time they will find their own road to success.

Final Summary

Managers have different kinds of responsibilities and the way the job changes constantly has transformed the managerial role. Managers these days are responsible for tasks like making decisions, leading by example, information gathering, motivating employees and evaluating their workers.

Actionable advice:

Make up your mind whether you consider your employees to be your friends.

A lot of people want to know if having a friendship with people who work under you is considered OK. This question is asked because it could be quite hard to hold on to such a relationship, especially if the person that’s on a higher position has to scold his subordinate. To avoid issues like this, make sure you decide how you feel about this beforehand. To make it easier, imagine that you have to take disciplinary action against a very close friend. If you have no problem doing that, then being close with your subordinates might be a good thing, and it could even strengthen the bond between manager and worker.