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How to Plan Employees Work


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1) How to Determine Work for Employees:

Formulating, planning and delegating (assigning) work to employees is a normal function of any manager who has a group of subordinates to be directed. Every manager surely wants to minimize impact of potential problems related to unclearness of work statement, which occur when managers do not completely understand how they can appropriately communicate tasks to their employees in order to obtain efficient performance. Those who manage employees need to remember a simple, but sure rule: Poor work performance begins with a poor work statement.

Signs and results of poor work determination may include:

  • Employee frequently asks for additional explanations or help from the manager or peers as he does not completely understand what he is expected to deliver;
  • Employee procrastinates the task because of inability to access certain resources (for example: lack of needed information) or to meet some obscure requirements;
  • Employee’s vision of work to be performed does not fully match vision of the manager;
  • Work results suffer from scope creep or some other defects;
  • Work gets affected rather by employee weaknesses than by his strengths;
  • Employee gets de-motivated as he thinks that he is not competent enough for this work;

In other words poor work determination leads to frustration of the working plans, poor results, and dissatisfaction of both employees and managers, so it is worth of investing some time to prepare a perspicuous work statement to be consumed by employee(s). To determine work properly, prior to approaching an employee, a manager can follow these simple guidelines:

  1. Define in your own words what you would like your employee to accomplish and why;
  2. Identify what major activities reside within the scope of this work and check if employee has all necessary resources to undertake them (skills, tools, knowledge, expertise, etc);
  3. Set measurable clear-cut objectives to identify desirable outcomes of the work (combining both targets to attain for employee and acceptance criteria for manager to approve results );
  4. Identify key work responsibilities and create guidelines, standards and constraints that employee needs to observe while doing this work (don’t waste too much time at delving into small details, but make stress just on the critical elements);
  5. Consider what information is necessary for employee to accomplish the given job;
  6. Ensure channels to allow employee accessing any required resources (for ex: if an employee is appointed to prepare a sales report, then make sure he can get all essential documents);
  7. Avoid trying to regulate just every step with some strict instructions, but identify aspects where you can fully rely on employee’s own creativity, expertise and opinion;
  8. Identify the major work-related risks to make sure that your employee has appropriate means or can get an assistance to mitigate them;
  9. Recognize and prepare all other necessary inputs for excellent employee performance;

Now, when the body of work is generally formulated, it is time to enrich and explain it in suitable terms and communicate the work requirements to performers.

2) How to Communicate Work to Employees:

The process of communication is directly linked to preceding process of work determination. Even if you have correctly determined the work, it is necessary to properly communicate the work to an assignee(s). This process embraces matters of work elements and communicative instruments.

It is necessary to communicate the following work elements:

  • Work Entitlement – labeling work to make it easily captured by mind and in official documents;
  • Employee Objectives – what tangible and intangible results to reach with completing the job;
  • Employee Responsibilities – when and how the objectives are to be reached;
  • Employee Deliverables – documents and information to be delivered to management;
  • Action Plan – this includes a description of any process or procedure, given in a specific format;
  • Management Support – what scope and kind of management assistance is engaged;

There are the following instruments used to communicate work elements:

  • Action Plan Format – a document including the framework to expound working plans in terms of embedded steps, constraints, etc. It may have appearance of:
    • Plain to-do list explaining workflow in a step-by-step manner;
    • Timetable of different design, with multiple columns and rows;
    • Calendar-like schedule, or any other appropriate style;
  • Meetings or calls – face-to-face meetings or teleconferences where manager openly talks about work which will be assigned to the employee(s). This is a proper environment for constructive discussion, questions and obtaining employee’s understanding and commitment;
  • Employee manuals – documented guidance on objectives, responsibilities and deliverables ;
  • Collaborative environment – a formal system of rules and intermediums used to maintain and regulate communications between managers and employees. This usually includes patterns for ongoing reporting over the working progress, receiving feedbacks and communicating changes;

3) General way to Plan Work for Employees:

  1. Make sure you determined Objectives, Responsibilities and Deliverables to be communicated to employee(s). For example:
    • Objective: to dye the entire car body;
    • Responsibilities: dye in “blue pearl” metallic color, accomplish before next Sunday;
    • Deliverables: to submit the payment bill from client in the billing system;
  2. Make sure you have an Action Plan that employee needs to adhere;
  3. Select right Action Plan Format to introduce workflow to employees (for example a schedule of milestones will suit when a task is well-known, while some non-trivial tasks may need more detailed procedures to be described);
  4. Prepare specific Employee Manuals or other kinds of documents to explain assigned guidelines, objectives, responsibilities and deliverables ;
  5. Make sure you know how to communicate the work requirements and plans to your employees – you have all necessary means (documents, forms, etc) and collaborative environment for this;
  6. Send official task assignment letter or notification to employee, if the official procedure in your company requires this;
  7. Hold face-to-face meeting with the employee. Make sure employee understands and accepts the work requirements as being feasible, and can explain the work in his own words;
  8. Encourage the employee to ask for management support once any questions or issues arise, and explain mechanism and scope of support that you are ready to provide;
  9. As a part of work planning you need to ensure a procedure to control the progress over assigned work (for example a progress tracking table to check-off accomplished milestones);
  10. Make sure that employee understands how the work will be tracked, appraised, and how he is supposed to deliver summary/report on accomplishment;

4) A way to Plan Employees Work with VIP Task Manager:

VIP Task Manager is a product that stands for collaboration between managers and employees, so it allows managers to set work plans explained in terms of particular tasks for their employees. Let’s consider simple step-by-step instruction to manage performance of employees in this product:

Instruments to be used:

  • Task List mode;
  • Task Tree mode;
  • Calendar mode;
  • Custom task attributes;

Task Tree mode actions (for managers):

  1. Create hierarchy of task groups to set the structure of work to be managed (you can set them for example in a project-oriented way so task groups will represent project stages);
  2. Create tasks ands et beginning date and expected date of completion (Start and Finish dates);
  3. Identify order of tasks by setting their numbers and priorities (create a gradual Action Plan);
  4. Add any necessary custom task fields to set Employee Objectives on these tasks (quantitative or qualitative requirements);
  5. Use Notes or Attachments sections to add descriptions of any procedures or requirements;
  6. Use Comments section to provide ongoing guidance;
  7. Assign tasks to appropriate employees;

Task List mode actions (for managers and employees):

  1. Create appropriate layout of columns to support your current needs (design action plan format);
  2. Group, sort and filter tasks to reach appropriate view of planned tasks;
  3. Use Task List to update and control statuses of working tasks, report results, check priorities, objectives and to access other work-related requirements;

Calendar mode actions (for managers and employees):

  1. Adjust Calendar mode to zoom-in/out work planning horizon;
  2. Retrieve working agendas for days, weeks and months using a customizable time-grid;
  3. Check visual time frames at time-grid to be clear with expectations;

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