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Of course, results speak louder than words. In the program’s first year, Cascades Diamond saved $5.2 million, increased productivity by nearly 15 percent, and reduced quality-related mistakes by 40 percent. Not only that, but 79 percent of employees said that their work quality
EXECUTION: GETTING THE JOB DONE
concerned them more now than before the program started, 73 percent reported that the company showed concern for them as people, and 86 percent of employees said that the company and management considered them to be either “important” or “very important.” Quite a change in employee attitudes, to say the least.
TOOLS FOR WORLD-CLASS MONITORING
The measurement system you select will be simpler or more complex based on how simple or complex the performance to be measured. If the goal is simply to increase the number of customer grades of “excellent” for your customer service staff from 500 per month to 600 per month, then a simple count will tell you whether your employees have achieved the goal. However, if the goal is to design and fabricate a cold fusion reactor in one year, your job of designing a system for measuring performance will be much more difficult.
Graphical representations—Gantts, PERTs, and the like—of all the goals, milestones, actions, and schedules involved in a project are often much easier to understand than text-based lists of these items, especially for complex or prolonged projects. In the sections that follow, we’ll explore some of the most common and useful.
Bar charts, sometimes known as Gantt charts, allow managers to quickly see exactly where the project is at any given date and compare actual progress with planned progress.
Bar charts contain three basic elements:
1. Timeline: This is the scale by which you measure progress. The timeline can be illustrated with any units that work best for your projects, including days, weeks, months, or more. The timeline appears along the horizontal axis (the x-axis) in most bar charts.
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2. Actions: These are the individual activities that must be performed to get from one milestone to the next. In a bar chart, actions are listed—usually in chronological order—vertically along the left side of the chart (the y-axis).
3. Bars: Bars on your chart indicate the estimated length of time that a particular action should take to accomplish. Short bars represent short periods of time; long bars represent long periods of time. The bars provide a quick visual reference of complete and incomplete actions.
The advantages of the Gantt chart are its simplicity, ease of preparation and use, and low cost. While Gantt charts are generally unsuitable for large, complex projects, they are great for projects that are relatively simple.
As we mentioned above, bar charts are great for simple projects, but not so great for complex projects. Why? Because they don’t illustrate the sequential flow of actions in a project that are predominant in complex projects. This is where flowcharts come to the rescue. Like bar charts, flowcharts also have three basic elements:
1. Actions: Arrows indicate actions, leading from one event to the next on the flowchart until the project is completed. The arrows’ primary purpose in a flowchart is to illustrate the sequential relationship of actions to one another, and their length is not necessarily proportional to the amount of time between actions.
2. Events: Events, represented in flowcharts by numbered circles, are used to indicate completion of a particular action.
3. Time: Time estimates are inserted alongside each action (arrow) in the flowchart. By following a particular path and adding up the
EXECUTION: GETTING THE JOB DONE
number of time units, you can determine the total time for the completion of an action.
Flowcharts show exactly how actions relate to one another, and the critical path—the actions that determine how soon that a project can be completed—can be ascertained by following the longest path in terms of time. This method of analysis is commonly known as the Critical Path Method (CPM).
Program evaluation and review technique (PERT) is a variation of CPM that uses statistical techniques to average a range of possible times to arrive at estimates for each action when the time to complete individual actions cannot be estimated with a high degree of certainty.
PUTTING NUMBERS INTO PRACTICE
Of course, once you have all your goals, measures, and other performance measurement tools up and running, you’ve got to use them to positively impact the performance of your employees. Here’s how to accomplish that particular task:
• Compare results to expectations. Let’s say that your employee has a goal to complete a report by November 1. The first question is: Was the report completed on time? As it turns out, the report was completed on October 15,—two weeks before the deadline. This particular goal was accomplished with time to spare.