Six tips to prevent important tasks falling through the cracks

Written by Shweta Jhajharia on 25 July 2014 in Features
Features

Shweta Jhajharia provides six tips that can help every business get more control 

Whether you’re a sole trader or manage a team of dozens, you need to ensure that the work that needs doing gets done – correctly and on time.

So how do you prevent the important (and even the not-so-important) tasks falling through the cracks?

Here are six tips, including a great tool that can help every business get more control:

1) Stop doing everything yourself

Share the load with people who are stronger in areas where you are weaker. The work will get done, the stress will be less, and your business will reach new heights. The following tips will help you do this.

2) Give away your low-skill, low-fun tasks first

All your tasks sit on a spectrum, from low-skill to high-skill and low-fun to high-fun.

The tasks to delegate are the ones that sit in the low-fun and low-skill quadrant.

Why? Because these tasks are:

  • Easier to train for
  • Cheapest to hire for
  • Create the most distractions.

3) Match the correct person to the role

Before you start hiring, you must define the role along with the responsibilities and the desired output.

You should then match that against a few key considerations:

  • Do they have the right skills for the job?
  • Does their personality type match the tasks that they'll be doing?
  • Are they enthusiastic about the job?

 

4) Develop a system

 

Introducing a system is absolutely critical if you want to ensure no job falls through the cracks. It will also you help you manage your team.

  1. Define the outcome. Ensure your team members know exactly what is expected of them.
  2. Timeline everything. Start with when the final result needs to be done and then backtrack.
  3. Ask them to recap. Hear it in their words and make sure they have understood and are on the same page as you.
  4. Include a touch point in your diary. Mid-way through the project, check-in and make sure everything is on track. If you wait until the end – it may be too late to catch an issue and deal with it.
  5. Install a task management system. For example, Asana or Podio, or for smaller companies, a basic spreadsheet can be used to manage tasks.

5) Document everything you do

Create concise but comprehensive documentation and it will feed back into your business by making the training of new hires a breeze, ensuring your business runs without interruption.

Remember to keep it concise and simple:

  • Limit yourself to one-page documents
  • Make use of checklists and bullet points
  • Create how-to videos using a camera or software like Jing that lets you do a video screenshot of what you're doing on screen.

6) Use this handy free tool

At the London Coaching Group, we have an efficient team that works very closely. And we exchange barely any emails.

What you need:

  1. Your team.
  2. A Google account (which is free) and an activated Google Drive (also free). http://www.google.com/drive
  3. A Google spreadsheet within Google Drive (click create > spreadsheet). This works much like an Excel Spreadsheet. It must also be shared with your team (click on share in the top right).

You then create column headings for the following areas:

  • Task description
  • Due date
  • Date started – filled in by your team to indicate when work on a task has begun
  • Date complete – filled in by your team to let you know a task is ready for review
  • Team Q's/comments – filled in by the team if they have any comments about the task
  • Leader responses – filled in by you, giving comments back to the team.

So how do we use this?

  1. Whenever a task comes to mind, I, as the team leader, will add it to the spreadsheet straight away.
  2. My team then gets started on it and fills in the fields accordingly.
  3. Once a task has a "date complete", I will double-check the task
  4. Once I've double-checked and it's done, then, and only then, do I delete it from this list. Only I can delete.

My team and I keep this document open during our entire work day. It acts as the communal 'to-do' list. Everyone is aware of the status of all other projects, which makes meetings a breeze and ensures absolutely nothing falls through the cracks.

By using the tips and tools above you can run your business and your projects smoothly and efficiently. You will be 100 per cent in control of each project – this reduces stress and that feeling of a ‘heavy load’. So you’ll have more time to work on the business and its future.

 

About the author

Shweta Jhajharia is principal coach and founder of The London Coaching Group

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