Time for focus on management and getting things done pt2

Steve Macaulay concludes his piece looking at effective management for the future. 

Shop-floor operations

Every organisation has its shop-floor or operations, where work is processed to output. Shop-floor management is concerned with ways to enhance efficiency and analysis. Shop-floor or operations manage the process of inputs, then processing into desired output of product or services.

The business environment is putting increasing pressure on companies’ operations. Inside the organisation, managers are presented with a dilemma that only the high-performers resolve satisfactorily: the correct balance to be achieved between control and allowing employees discretion and freedom to get the job done themselves.

Performance monitoring

Performance monitoring is often put in place to guide operational decision making and to achieve business objectives. Measures and standards can play a vital role in the management of operations and serve to pinpoint and motivate action to maintain and improve performance, both in the short and long term. 

Such measures need to reflect what matters in the organisation and their links to its strategy. 

HR and L&D action now will provide managers with the necessary skills to keep everything on track and help to a secure the future.

Performance needs to be continuously tracked and communicated, both formally and informally to all employees, often using a range of visual management tools. For big and difficult changes, many organisations are using programme and project management techniques to implement initiatives, particularly those which are complex and cross organisational boundaries.

Creating a guiding management group of line and specialist managers is essential to oversee any changes but also initiate implementation in each local area in the organisation. Monitoring also involves:

  • Spotting knock-on effects. Managers must understand how a problem can have a ripple effect and create blockages and barriers in other areas.
  • Being alert to key signs. Most firms spend on technology or IT but sometimes neglect fully to equip their employees with new skills to make processes sustainable.
  • Uncovering a bigger picture. If the manager does not keep a close eye on how their areas of responsibility are performing, it makes it much harder to recognise and correct emerging problems that have potential to cause damage. These shortcomings may have a trail which leads back to bigger management and organisational issues – something managers can sometimes be reluctant to uncover and deal with.

Target setting

Implementing targets can be a strong motivator, but equally a lot of skill is involved in devising and communicating targets so that people feel ownership of them. Targets are often a balance of financial and non-financial targets, with non-financial targets often powerful, inspiring and challenging.

Financial goals are important, but if that is all there is, they tend to be uni-dimensional, neglecting important parts of the organisation.

Well-chosen targets using performance measures can be invaluable in getting results. Cranfield’s Centre for Business Performance suggests the sort of criteria to make targets and measurement of company and individual performance work well: measures need to be clearly defined; provide timely and accurate feedback; focus on improvement, not blame and reflect the business.

Incentive setting and people priorities

Are companies hiring, developing and keeping the right people? The delivery process is unlikely to function properly unless the manager skilfully manages the people component. Core managerial skills demand managers who understand people and are able to:

  • Communicate priorities and direction in ways people understand in their part of the organisation
  • Put together an effective team of diverse skills and talents
  • Review and encourage individual and team performance
  • Recognise and reward effective contribution

Priorities for management: HR and L&D Actions

Shop-floor operations

Review and consider shop-floor operations and service provided:

  • How well do people in your organisation understand   the contribution of shop-floor operations?
  • How is your operation judged? Is the judgement positive or negative overall?
  • What can be done to enhance shop-floor operations?


Performance monitoring


Review performance monitoring process:

  • Outcomes: direct and indirect consequences
  • Resources: the people, equipment, systems, etc that enable the process to function.
  • Coordination and control mechanisms:
  • to set (and reset) the targets, monitor performance and allocate resources.

Target setting

Make certain that targets are:

  • Allocated appropriately across individuals and teams
  • Based on rigorous data analysis
  • Periodically reviewed
  • Supported by a specific action plan.


Incentive setting and people priorities


Key questions for review:

  • WHO should be rewarded and recognised?
  • WHY should they be recognised and developed?
  • WHEN should this happen?
  • WHAT form should the recognition take?























Key action points for HR and L&D

In today’s environment it is a necessity to review whether HR and L&D are doing enough to equip managers to understand how to execute plans successfully and how to take the initiative in making changes. 

In particular, there needs to be emphasis on enabling managers to develop implementation approaches tailored to their organisation’s context, rather than to a standardised recipe.

Taking stock: a core management checklist

Ask yourself these core management questions:

  • What can be done to enhance the management of operations?
  • Throughout your organisation or your team, how are you keeping consistent focus on priorities?
  • Are you rewarding and recognising people against the key deliverables?
  • How are you generating enthusiasm and passion for the success of the organisation at all levels?
  • Are the skills of your people up-to-date and do they feel confident to make their own decisions which fit local circumstances?






The current pandemic and its knock-on effects have brought into sharp relief the core management skills required to manage under today’s challenging conditions. HR and L&D can do much to assist managers to approach their role in a thorough and flexible way. HR and L&D action now will provide managers with the necessary skills to keep everything on track and help to a secure the future.

You can read part one of this piece here.


About the author

Steve Macaulay is an associate at Cranfield University’s centre for executive development; he can be contacted by email on: s.macaulay@cranfield.ac.uk.


Learn More →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *