From the Ask Tom mailbag –
Sometimes, identifying level of work seems elusive. I try to look at the timespan of the task, but sometimes, my intuition just seems off.
The biggest mistake most companies make is underestimating the timespan associated with a role. In addition to timespan, there are other clues that can help us with level of work.
Examine the task. The first clue to level of work is the timespan of the task. Here are the two questions. When does it start? When does it end? When we imagine a task, sometimes we focus on the middle without truly defining the start and end of the task.
While a craft trade (S-I) might look at a task as a one-day project, the supervisor (S-II) may be concerned about the permit inspection in two weeks. The manager (S-III) may be concerned with the system in which the project was completed, accountable for a one-year warranty that accompanies the work product. The VP of Quality Control (S-IV) may be accountable beyond the warranty to multi-year statutes related to defects. For the role, when does the project start, when does the project end?
Examine the tools. A craft trade (S-I) generally uses real tools, machinery, equipment. The supervisor (S-II) will use schedules, checklists and meetings. The manager (S-III) will use flowcharts, sequence and planning. The VP (S-IV) will use multi-project Gant charts.
Examine the problem solving. A craft trade (S-I) may make good use of trial and error problem solving. The supervisor (S-II) may rely on documented experience like SOPs and best practices. The manager (S-III) may employ root cause analysis. The VP (S-IV) has to look at multiple systems simultaneously, systems analysis.
All of these are clues. With the work defined, the next question, is the team member effective in the work?