“I don’t understand why my team consistently underperforms. We have a target to produce five units, they produce four. We are supposed to finish a project this afternoon, it doesn’t get completed until tomorrow,” Frances complained.
“You are the manager,” I observed. “What do you think is the problem?”
“I really don’t know. Before every project, we have a meeting to go over the project, all its elements. I try to keep those meetings upbeat, optimistic.”
“What if it’s not a problem with your team?” I asked.
“Then, what could it be?” Frances pushed back.
“Yes, what could it be?” I repeated.
I could see Frances racing through possibilities. Could it be equipment failure, substandard materials, faulty tools. “What if it’s me?”
“You are the manager?” I replied. “What are the productivity levers every manager has to work with?”
“Well, I pick the team, or I pick the people who end up on the team.”
“What else?” I was taking notes.
“I am the one who assigns the task. I set the context, describe the vision of the project, set the quality standards, quantity. I estimate a reasonable amount of time to finish the project, the deadline. I tell them what resources are available.”
“And, I watch, to see how well the team does.”
“And if they screw things up?” I asked.
“We have a conversation,” Frances nodded.
“And if the team member continues to screw up?”
“They are off the team.”
I finished writing down what Frances described and slid the paper across the table.
- Selection, who is on the team?
- Task assignment, quantity, quality, time and resources?
- Evaluate effectiveness?
“As the manager, this is what you control,” I said. “Your problem is on this list.” -Tom