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How to Manage an Effective Workplace

by Sam Ashe-Edmunds

You might have different levels of management responsibility during your career, from handling projects to running departments or overseeing a specific company function. If you become a business owner or are hired to run a company, you’ll need to manage the workplace effectively to meet your goals and stay in business. The key to managing an effective workplace is first to define “effective,” and then set strategies, policies and procedures for meeting that definition.

Define Effective

On the most basic level, a company is "effective" if it makes a profit. To achieve profitability, you’ll need to create an environment in which people with different skills working in different areas can form an effective and efficient unit. This requires setting certain outcome goals for employees, such as specific levels of sales and productivity levels. It also requires setting performance goals such as filling orders on time and keeping accurate financial records. By creating specific goals and parameters, you develop a sound strategy for an effective workplace.

Set Outcome Goals

To be effective, your employees must know the company’s goals beyond profitability. The marketing team, for example, must know the goals of the sales department so it can create advertising and promotions that support those efforts. The finance and production departments must work together to understand how to control production costs without reducing quality. Set big-picture goals for each department, discussing with the staff why the company has each department in the first place. Setting long-term strategies helps your staff create targeted tactics to reach those outcomes.

Set Performance Goals

Once your employees know their purpose within the company, create individual performance goals for each one. Set numeric goals with deadlines, where possible. For example, the marketing department might work to increase traffic to your website, add a new distribution channel or increase sales among a specific target customer group. Your finance department might be tasked with increasing profit margins by reducing overhead costs, decreasing debt by a specific amount each quarter or decreasing payroll taxes by adding voluntary employee benefits. Each staff member should have a detailed, written job description and be given an annual review to determine his effectiveness. To maximize performance, provide ongoing worker training and make sure staff have the tools they need to perform their jobs.

Create Personnel Policies

In addition to setting outcome and performance goals, you must set individual behavior goals to keep your workplace running smoothly. This requires you to create a company handbook or employee manual that sets parameters for workplace behavior. Include policies and procedures relating to dress, attendance, breaks, personal time-off requests, expense approval and reimbursement, safety, gossip, harassment, annual reviews, grievances and personal use of equipment and supplies. Negative or dishonest employees can reduce morale, derail productivity and increase your turnover. Annual reviews should include managers evaluating subordinates and subordinates providing feedback on superiors.

Monitor Your Progress

Waiting until the end of the year to see if you met your goals can be a recipe for disaster. Instead, track and analyze your outcome goals and performance goals each month. Review your annual projections to determine if you are on track to meet your goals or if you need to make changes. If an employee or department aren't meeting the goals you set, that's not necessarily a sign of poor performance. A variance analysis might determine that you set unrealistic goals and that the employee or department is as effective as can be expected based on the realities of your situation vs. your projections. Communications skills are critical to managing effective workplaces, so keep your subordinates informed of their progress.

About the Author

Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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