October 28/November 4, 2019: Volume 35, Issue 9
By Lou Morano
Everyone in every organization has a job description, whether written out or not, that includes their regular duties and tasks. (This includes owners such as myself.) If we are operating efficiently, everyone should be pretty much busy with little downtime.
Then we have additional projects that need to get completed. These projects are usually isolated tasks—some are recurring; many are not. Here are some examples: Your showroom may need to get new updated flooring; a new system is needed in your installation department to better handle communication with service calls; creating a better sample checkout system, etc.
As owners, we ask our people to take ownership in a project but they usually don’t get around to doing it. They will give reasons such as, “I will get to it,” “I have been super busy,” “I’ll get on it as soon as I can.”
Well, how would you like to have your people not only take ownership but contribute ideas on what projects should be addressed and have all the projects completed on an agreed date?
Here’s how it can be done: First, you make a list of the projects you would like completed. Then, tell your key people you are going to meet every quarter, and set a date for the first meeting. Explain to them that you would like input from them on what projects/tasks they think your organization needs—whether it is in their department or another department—and bring those ideas to the meeting.
When you all meet, put all the ideas (including yours) at the bottom of an Excel spreadsheet. Then, you explain the goal, which is to assign ownership of the tasks that can get completed within 90 days. Discuss who should get ownership of each task/project. Some people may only have one project assigned to them while others will have several. Next, discuss which projects are a priority. Then, discuss with each person each task/project and a date they feel they can commit to for completion.
Note: It is very important to give plenty of time and even add time liberally so they do not feel pressured. However, the completion date must be within 90 days. It is equally important not to give the team too many projects; you want to set them up for success, not failure. Do this together with your team and address each person individually.
At the end of the meeting, you should have several projects on the Excel spreadsheet with the project name, expected completion date and who is taking ownership of the project at the top of the sheet. You most likely will have projects at the bottom of the list that were not able to make it on the list. Distribute that Excel spreadsheet so everyone knows who is doing what and when their project is expected to be completed.
You will then meet in 90 days to go over all projects that were to be completed. Once you have gone through those projects, you can add some more projects/tasks to the bottom of the list, prioritize and repeat the process. In the unlikely event that one of the expected completed projects was not completed, you have a discussion as to why it did not get completed and get the commitment from the person responsible that it will be done in the next 90 days. When your people understand this process is ongoing and that you are committed to it, you most likely will see almost every project completed by the promised expected completion date and without you bugging them all the time.
Lou Morano started selling carpet for a major retailer at the age of 19 in 1981. In 1985 he and his father incorporated Capitol Carpet, Inc., and opened their first full-service retail store in 1986. Today Morano operates five retail stores, including a commercial division, under the name Capitol Carpet & Tile and Window Fashions.