As a Manager, Do You Know What's Expected of You?
This month we're going to talk about creating job descriptions for you and your employees. We'll also talk about creating incentive programs for your technicians, developing an organizational chart for the future and the importance of recruiting "all the time."
The vast majority of new managers begin working for companies without job descriptions. The new manager is simply told to "Do what John did." Or, if it's a newly created position, you are simply asked to "manage the department." Since many new managers have, at best, a cloudy idea of what is expected of them, the job often ends in failure and frustration (even though it was not explained clearly in the first place). If this scenario seems familiar, then it's time to change it. It's time to develop your own job description. It's not really all that hard, if you follow a few simple steps.
Ask yourself a few questions. The first important question is "Why is my job necessary?" When you're through answering that question, ask yourself another. "What do I think my boss expects me to accomplish?"
Write a list of what you do. Over a period of one to two months, make a list of every task you might be expected to do in the course of a week or month. Depending on your situation, the list could be very long.
Prune the list. Prune the list by deleting every task that does not directly contribute to the completion of your job. The final list should have no more than eight to 10 key activities you are expected to complete.
Present the list. Present the list to your supervisor (but not like it is set in stone) for discussion and finalization. This is the part of the process where you and the person you report to must have a meeting.
Finalize the job description. The final job description will give you, and your boss, a clear picture of what is expected of the position you currently hold.
When you have completed the task of creating your own job description, it is time to repeat the process with each and every technician/manager that works for you. It is difficult to meet your superiors' expectations when neither of you know what those expectations are. Job descriptions are very important. If they don't exist for your position, then be a leader and make it a goal to begin the process of developing (a job description) one for your position and for those within your department.
Incentive ProgramsThe second goal for new managers should be to develop incentive programs for the technicians they supervise. Few people will do their very best at a job without having some vested interest in doing it correctly. In other words, if there is not a direct reward for doing an outstanding job, few people will work up to their potential. If you read the articles a couple years ago about how to develop proper hourly rates, you will remember that the single highest cost of doing business was the cost of nonbillable time. Managers need to do all that they can to reduce this cost as much as possible. That is where incentives come in. Below, you will find several effective ways to reduce nonbillable time.
Pay a percentage of the job. Consider paying the technician a percentage of the total job as opposed to being paid by the hour. Although the company is still required to keep the same records as if the technicians were paid on an hourly rate, paying on a percentage basis has some significant benefits. This method of payment completely eliminates nonbillable time. It also allows the company to know the exact costs of the job or service performed. There are benefits for the technician as well. Since they are paid based on a percentage of the job, the faster they work the more money they can earn.
Bonus for exceeding budgeted billed hours. Pricing for jobs and services are based on billing out a certain number of hours per month. If the company is able to bill out more hours than were originally budgeted, some really profitable things begin to take place. Exceeding the number of billed hours budgeted will reduce the number of nonbillable hours. Reducing nonbillable time reduces overhead and saves the company money. Billing out more hours than were budgeted also increases the company's gross sales. Increased billed hours not only increases profits, but the existing overhead is spread over more total hours, therefore reducing the cost of every job. When additional hours are billed out, share the profits with your technicians in the form of a bonus.
Pay different hourly rates. If you want to make an immediate positive change in the number of hours you bill the customer, try this: Pay the technicians a significantly higher hourly rate for "billable" hours than you do for nonbillable hours. Guess what happens almost immediately? Right. The number of hours billed the customer immediately increases.
Incentive programs are great for all involved. The technician makes more money. The company makes more money. You, the manager, are recognized for running a very efficient department.
Do you know why most technicians leave a company? Most would say it is because the company down the street offered them an additional 50 cents an hour. In most cases, that is not the real reason. Most people leave a company because they don't see a future. If they're a technician now, in all probability, they will always be a tech. So, why not change employers for an additional 50 cents?
That leads us to our third goal. Create an organizational chart for the company for three to five years in the future. In the chart, map out the new or "future" positions. Perhaps over the next couple of years, the company will need a service manager, additional sales person or additional help in the office. Make it clear to current employees that someone will be filling those additional jobs, and it is the company's desire to fill them from within. If an employee is interested in one of the future openings, then the company will help him become trained for the position. This will give current employees a clear job path with the side benefit of lower turnover for company.
The final goal for new managers is to learn to recruit all the time, not just when you need people. Keep your eyes open everywhere you go. Remember that the most qualified members of your profession already are working for someone else. That means filling future positions probably will involve looking outside of the industry. Stop looking just for technically qualified people. Begin looking for people who could be trained to fill the positions.
A good standard to go by is this: "Hire for attitude and train for service!" An employee's attitude is difficult to change, so look for people who have a great attitude. Always be on the lookout for employees who are willing to be trained for a new position in your company when (new) opportunities open up. Your next employee may be working at Wal-Mart, the local diner or perhaps the gas station around the corner. Keep you eyes open.
Goals are important. If managers, experienced or new, can accomplish the four goals just discussed, they will have happier employees, less turnover and higher profits. These are goals worth accomplishing.