Friday, May 16, 2014

Not Everything that is Important is Actually Urgent

Some tasks and projects require more urgency than others. However, if we consider everything to be urgent, we clog our work queue and confuse trivialities with important priorities. Sometimes the challenge we face as a manager is to distinguish between what is actually urgent and what is not.

Consider these tips to help you determine what truly is urgent.

Don’t assume that “Urgent” means “Immediately”
Explore with the person that made the request of you what they are really trying to accomplish and when it’s actually needed. Sometimes the sense of urgency is just a way of conveying a person’s importance and power, or even a reflection of personal anxiety. Giving that person a little bit of your time before starting on their request may be sufficient for them to be assured you understand their request and its urgency. Then, you will have the opportunity to determine when you will actually need to address the request.

Distinguish between an urgent crisis and an urgent request
There are times when people making a request have issues that need to be resolved right away, and diving in immediately is the right thing to do. But depending on your business, this may actually be the exception rather than the norm. Probe the person that made the request of you about what would happen if you got back to them in a couple of days or the next week. Often, as long as you commit to a specific completion time, that will be sufficient.

Be prepared to say "No"
Good customer service doesn’t necessarily mean doing everything that the person requests. More importantly it means doing what is best for them, even when they may not realize it. Talk through the implications and outcomes of what the requester is asking for and make sure it’s the right thing to do. Explain your reason why in order to get them to understand and agree.


The PICK chart illustrated at the top of this post is a tool used for organizing and categorizing process improvement ideas in a Lean Six Sigma project. The acronym stands for Possible, Implement, Challenge, Kill.

David Schuchman

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Why You Need a Succession Plan


An organization uses succession planning to ensure that it recruits superior employees, develops their knowledge, skills, and abilities, and prepares them for advancement. You need to develop a succession plan to ensure that your employees are constantly developed to fill each needed role as the organization evolves.
As your organization expands, loses key employees and provides promotional opportunities, your succession plan guarantees that you have employees on hand ready and waiting to fill new roles. Through your succession planning process, you will retain superior employees because they appreciate the time, attention, and development that you are investing in them. To effectively do succession planning in your organization, you must identify the organization’s long term goals. In addition, successful succession planning builds bench strength to protect your organization against the challenges associated with these 3 occurrences:

Organizational Growth & Reorganization
Organizational growth has the potential to provide a company with a variety of benefits, including greater efficiencies from economies of scale, increased marketplace visibility, a greater ability to withstand market fluctuations, greater profits, and increased prestige for employees. While it spurs job creation, organizational growth also has challenges. A company may outgrow the skills or abilities of its leaders and employees. All those involved may quickly become stressed out trying to keep up with the demands of expansion. Without proper succession planning, the expansion may become ineffective and stall.

Loss of a Key Employee
Every corporation has key leaders or employees that make substantial contributions to the operation, profitability, and success of the business. Any individual who has critical intellectual information, sales relationships, product knowledge, and/or industry contacts that may adversely affect profits in the event of their absence, may be considered key. A succession plan will ensure that an organization can tolerate the short term and permanent loss of a key employee.

Easily Replace a Poor Performer
A poorly performing employee can negatively affect team and organizational performance. Sometimes, they can undermine their coworkers' efforts through their incompetence or uncivil behavior. When attempts to correct their behavior or improve their performance fails, it may become necessary to terminate that employee. A robust succession plan will ensure that an organization will have cultivated other employees to fill the void caused by a staff termination. In addition, it will allow you to plan ahead to replace that employee with a new recruit in a timely fashion.

David Schuchman