Marge was frustrated. “I am fed up to here,” she stated flatly. “”I spend more time correcting than I do controlling the work.” She had just paid a visit to the shipping dock. Four orders, mis-packed and two orders with the wrong ship address. Luckily, the errors were discovered before the freight company picked up, but the orders would now be delayed another day.
“What do you think the problem is?” I asked.
“Well, Martin just doesn’t seem to be catching on. He has been here for five weeks, now, and I swear it’s like he is still in his first week. He is supposed to be matching and proofing orders and picking tickets, catching mistakes before they get out the door.”
“When you look at his job, how would you describe the longest task he has to perform, longest in terms of time frame?”
Marge thought for a minute. You could see some insight wave across her face. “He gets an advance report every Monday that looks two weeks out for orders and their target ship date. It’s like a rolling two week calendar. Of course, the orders during this week are much more definite, but we want him to think out two weeks.”
“And how far in the future do you think he is working?”
“Oh, no more than one day. If you ask him about tomorrow, you get that deer in the headlights look.”
“Did you ever think about that when you hired him?” I asked.
“No, he had experience as a packer, but not as a supervisor. I never thought it would be that big of a deal to really control what was happening.”
“Marge, don’t feel bad. Most companies underestimate the time span required for success in the job. And if you key in on time span, you can get much more specific about the level of the person you need. Here is the key question. When you look at the job, how would you describe the longest task the person has to perform, longest task in terms of time frame?”