One of the most vital things every business needs is an effective management toolkit. The problem is they are rarely perfect. While you may be thinking your organization has bigger issues to focus on, allow me to explain why the management toolkit is so important.
Management toolkits are meant to translate overall business objectives produced at the strategic level down to the front-line in a way that managers and supervisors can understand and use effectively. These tools drive accountability through clear definition of roles and responsibilities by providing the ability to plan, assign and follow up on work in a structured manner. So that sounds great, but what does it mean?
It means we can improve the visibility of operations by using a language that is understood by employees and management. If everyone can understand what’s going on, everyone can play a part in identifying operating problems in real-time!
A well-designed toolkit enables management and staff to identify how their operating activities are linked to business objectives. It also gives businesses the opportunity to monitor variances and correct their path so their strategic vision becomes reality.
At my firm, we work with organizations to lay out their management toolkit into six separate elements:
- Strategic Direction – Uncovers the firm’s business objectives.
- Forecast – Delivers financial, operational and sales plans for the firm.
- Performance Plan – Develops targets that guide the decisions and schedules of business units.
- Schedule – Organizes and plans work for business units.
- Execution Control – Ensures the firm is on schedule against planned daily activities.
- Results Measurement – Measures performance on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
All six of these elements are required for a complete management toolkit. While developing your toolkit, keep in mind that these elements need to be communicated in a way that ensures both executive and front-line management understand them.
The challenge, of course, is that executives think about the macro and the future of the company while front-line managers operate in the micro and are concerned with day-to-day activities. If the leadership and the front-line are not able to effectively communicate with each other, business objectives won’t be adequately translated for the operational level (and vice versa).
This results in the front-line not understanding how it’s contributing to organizational goals, and it may be disconnected from the system. On the flip side, executive management will not be able to see how business objectives are being realized on the front lines, and they won’t be able to adequately support their staff. What follows? Strategic targets will not be realized, forecasts and budgets will be missed, and the competitive position of the firm will be weakened. Disaster.
Aside from allowing your organization to communicate and manage processes more effectively, an effective toolkit provides information that can be used in process improvement efforts. This can provide a solid foundation for a culture of continuous improvement and ensure that your efforts target the biggest pain points within your business.
If you feel that your management tools could be improved, my advice would be to act now. Reviewing and redesigning a management toolkit requires time and focus to identify areas where disconnects are occurring.
Management toolkits contribute to the success of a business, and their review and redesign play a key role in every engagement my firm undertakes. If you are stuck on where to start, we would be happy to assist you in the redesign on your future toolkit. Or if you would like to have a more in depth discussion on how this would help your business, please feel free to reach out to me.