Using effective business task management

effective business task management

5 tips to help with effective task management:

These observations have provided by with some subtle differences that can make your task management and delegation much more effective.

The suggestions offered below are a small sample to help get you started, regardless of which management system you use.

1. Clarity is critical.

Whether you are setting a Task for yourself or delegating one to someone else, it is best to document each Task as specifically as possible, so it is patently clear to you and everyone else in your team exactly what needs to be done, by whom, and by when.

The best way to achieve this level of clarity is to imagine that the person accountable for each Task might receive a notification about the Task on their mobile device, without having any context of the bigger Goal or Project it is associated with.

Would they know from reading the Task wording, exactly what they need to do and by when? If not, rewrite the Task so they would.

2. A clear statement of intent.

Another tip is to write each Task like you had to assign it to someone via Twitter, and that’s all the information they would have to go on. You need to communicate everything the Task recipient needs to know within the 140 character limit. (If you need to add more explanatory details you can do so in an attachment or in an accompanying description field)

Don’t create vague, open-ended Tasks like “Work on the new website” or “Make some sales calls” ­neither of which are helpful, and are too open to interpretation.

If you want to create a high performance culture of accountability, be very clear about the specific action that is required to be performed.

Don’t write: “CRM training” (too vague) Do write: “Conduct training session for sales team on how to use the new CRM plugin”

3. Break it down into component parts.

Don't combine Tasks: “Provide series of training sessions on the customer onboarding process”

It is more effective to create a separate Task for each training session and be specific about what each training session entails. Let the Task owner check each task off as it gets done so they can track their progress, and feel a sense of fulfilment each time they complete a step.

4. Only make promises that will be kept.

The Task owner should only make promises that they fully intend to keep, and are happy to be held firmly accountable for (with the best knowledge they have available at the time). This especially applies to setting due dates for Tasks.

The due date should not be a wish: "I hope to get it done by then"
The due date should be a promise: "You can count on me to have it done by then"

Therefore, if you are delegating Tasks to your team members, you absolutely need to discuss and get agreement from the Task owner about what is a reasonable and achievable due date, not just delegate Tasks and assign due dates without consultation. In addition, any support or resource requirements need to be agreed at the time of delegation.

After both parties have agreed the due date, if a Task subsequently falls overdue, the Task owner has, in essence, not kept their promise to their manager and to the team. This is an accountability issue that needs to be raised and discussed at your next weekly meeting.

If there is a valid reason for the Task being overdue, the reason should be documented ahead of time (e.g. in the Task description field) to inform everyone in the team about the reason for the holdup, and when the Task will be actually completed by.

5. Close the loop.

Documenting Tasks effectively is just the first step to making sure things get done. If you are the manager, you must follow up to make sure Tasks get completed on time by your team. This is not micro-managing. You let the Task owner use their initiative to figure out how best to achieve their Tasks, but you must “close the loop” to ensure the work actually got done.

Make sure you praise and acknowledge people for getting their Tasks done too. Praise your people for successful completions.

Alternatively, you must confront lack of performance, otherwise “not getting things done” will quickly become the norm in your team and without even realizing it, you will create a culture of mediocrity through your inaction.

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