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Just do the job!

Everywhere you turn these days it seems that we are being bombarded with messages regarding the product or service or process that will take our business to the next level or into the future. Forget the next level; I just want people to do their job today!

I’m on a bit of a rant today, so forgive me if I come off a bit angry. Everywhere you turn these days it seems that we are being bombarded with messages regarding the product or service or process that will take our business to the next level or into the future.

Forget the next level; I just want people to do their job today! To do what is required. No more, no less. I am not asking for superhuman feats or for someone to employ space age technology – just deliver on whatever product or service you are to provide me. That’s all.

I’m tired of having to check, double check and check again because if I don’t follow up, nothing gets done or it isn’t done correctly. Whether it is in the drive through and finding out once again that my order is incorrect or partially missing, or having a government organization lose an important original document, or finding out four days later that my computer order made online was lost due to a server crash, it seems that everywhere I turn no one is capable of performing the basic service they are there to provide.

In fact, this malady is getting to be so ubiquitous that any more I am shocked and awed when people actually do what they are supposed to. What has happened? Why is every transaction with another person for a good or service such a SNAFU?

Perhaps it’s me and my perspective is all wrong. It might be possible that my expectations are too high. Then again, maybe not. My personal theory – I blame management, or the lack of it for most of these problems.

Whenever I look at a person or unit or organization that is not performing, I usually spy management not doing one or more of the following:

Holding people accountable. – Whose accountable anymore? Missed meetings, deadlines missed, products not delivered, promises not kept. Plenty of blame gets spread around, but so what? No one ever does anything about it. Without accountability, where is the incentive to perform? Insuring that people are doing their jobs is what management is about, yet one of the most avoided tasks of a manager. Why? Because if people aren’t performing, dealing with them can be an unpleasant and time consuming task. However not dealing with it and showing that there are no consequences to poor performance sets a very bad example that is very contagious. People learn quickly what they can get away with.

Planning. Is it me or are many organizations seemingly flying by the seat of their pants? Often when I go into meetings I ask questions regarding projects or efforts such as “What is the goal or objective of this effort? Who is responsible for the deliverables? When will it be finished and what processes have been put into place to insure it will get done?

I often just get blank stares as a response. Apparently proactive management is alien to many of today’s managers?

Being realistic rather than asking the impossible. In this day and age of doing more with less there are individuals or units who simply cannot do anymore than they are doing because there are limits to how much they can perform. Yet management continues to pile on without the realization that something has to give – and that something is usually quality of product or service.

Being Active Managers. I remember having management defined for me as Planning, Organizing, Commanding, Controlling, and Coordinating. The last time I checked, these were action verbs. Too many managers these days manage from behind a desk and their only form of communication is email. And/or they are so wrapped up in meetings that they have no time or energy for dealing with day to day activities. Management has to make time to be visible and to see what is going on first hand. No one likes to be managed by the ghost that is rarely seen and communicates infrequently. If you want employees to work hard, you need to build a rapport and earn respect. Hard to do when you never enter the trenches yourself.

Remembering that the customer is what it is all about. Well at least that’s what I think it should be. Others might think it is profits or return on investments or such. Apparently I am in the minority on this subject because if I wasn’t I wouldn’t be getting such poor quality service.

Being that IT is first and foremost a service provider we need to insure that we are providing the best possible service we can for the level of technology that we have/can afford. Your IT shop doesn’t have to resemble a space station to provide excellent service. It comes from proper processes and management involvement. While my examples earlier were not IT related it is easy to come up with those as well.

Have you experienced any projects going nowhere because you are waiting for a sign off from an authority that never seems to have the time to give it? How long does it take for a problem to be resolved by your unit once it is discovered? How many reams of paper does it take to fill out a request to fix something that will take under an hour to fix? How often does nothing get done on an issue because the ONLY person who can do something about it is sick or on vacation or too busy?

If any of these sound familiar with your unit, perhaps it might be worth stepping back and seeing if you are practicing all of the above. If not, it might be worthwhile to think about them. In the meantime, I’m going to ponder how to fill out a web based help ticket from a PC without a network connection because no one will answer the phone at the help desk.