Employee Engagement

Is your operational management style a S, M or L? [Quiz]

Operational maangement.jpg

Written by Tony Loxton
Nov 29

For the uninitiated, the term ‘operational management’ conjures up the image of Mr Burns, from the infamous sitcom The Simpsons. A representation of the typical American corporate overlord, Mr Burns owns and oversees the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, where he frequently forgets the names of his employees (including Homer), concentrating instead on the most effective way of increasing profit – even if it’s detrimental to his staff or the environment. It’s safe to say that this cartoon character is a personification of the very worst kind of operational management style: outdated, impersonal and ultimately, ineffective.

Operational management styles differ across the board; some hold efficiency in such high regard that they can’t see the wood for the proverbial trees, while others are so focused on the minutiae of everyday tasks that the bigger picture falls out of focus. Want to know what kind of operational management style you bring to the table? Take our quiz and find out:

You’re in a Monday status meeting with the various departmental heads, and are sensing a distinct air of defeatism due to the fact that budget cuts have been implemented across the firm. You attempt to boost morale by:

A. Addressing each head of department individually, highlighting the ways their team has excelled. Due to the fact that there are twelve heads of department present, the meeting ends up cutting into lunch time.

B. You voice your empathy regarding the situation, and inform everyone that you’ll sit down with each of them in the following few days to look at ways they can optimise their tasks within their reduced budget.

C. You wax lyrical about the fact that budget cuts are ‘good for the collective’ and urge them to focus on the bigger picture, even if the immediate future is fraught with frustration. You may or may not quote Obama’s (circa 2008): “Yes we can!”.

You’ve just been informed by HR that not one, but three of your best-performing employees have handed in their resignations. You proceed to:

A. Chat to their immediate supervisors, colleagues and the security guard to uncover the real reason behind their resignations. You then take a long, liquid lunch and berate yourself for your inability to hold onto some of your best staff.

B. You have an informal sit down with each soon-to-be ex-employee and ask them to speak candidly about their reasons for leaving. You listen to their feedback and then propose a new contract of employment that remedies their pain points. While you’re more than accommodating, you do draw the line at granting the request for a two day work week.

C. You ask HR to find out why the individuals have resigned, and then tell them to proceed as they see fit. You don’t have time to indulge the whims of every single staff member!

You’ve been informed by the Sales Department that several of your stores are not meeting their targets. Your solution to the problem is:

A. You send your PA – disguised as a secret shopper – to each store to do some digging.

B. You invest in people counter software and data analytics tools to implement in-store in order to determine the cause of flagging sales. In addition, you schedule meetings with each store manager to come up with a plan of action based on the findings of the data.

C. You call a company-wide meeting and harp on about the fact that ‘the whole is only as good as the sum of its parts’ and then allude to the fact that managers of underperforming stores will have to face dire consequences, including foregoing the highlight of everyone’s year: the open bar at the annual Christmas party.

Your response to the statement ‘Big Data and analytics are the answers to many operational hiccups’ is:

A. No one has time to nitpick at data, let alone implement new software.

B. I agree wholeheartedly. Data-driven operational management is the future.

C. I agree, in theory, but isn’t this supposed to be the concern of the IT department?

Without further ado, your operational management style is:

Mostly a’s: Small – Your tendency to micro-manage often sees you get wrapped up in the details, when your energy would be better spent if you took a step back and examined operational performance with an objective eye. While your earnest interest in the goings on of every single department and team is commendable, you end up getting wrapped up in the fine print – to the detriment of operations as a whole.

Mostly b’s: Medium – Congratulations! You’ve found the balance between keeping an eye on the detail whilst still prioritising the end goal. You realise that streamlined operations are the result of giving departments autonomy, viewing processes as agile, and the ability to adapt operations in line with new technology and industry trends.

Mostly c’s: Large – ‘Blue sky thinking’ has its place, but viewing operational management as something that doesn’t require a hands-on, human approach ends up being counterproductive. While giving each department autonomy is beneficial, you need to be familiarising yourself with daily operations on a more granular level if you want to ensure processes are running effectively.

Want to streamline your operations management? Find out how people counter technology can help in our free Guide to Going Beyond Store Performance, download it here.

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