Eliminating Unproductive Tasks
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Eliminating Unproductive "Under the Radar" Tasks

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You may have heard the story of the woman who always cuts her roast before putting it into the pot.  She learned to do this from her mother.  One day she asks her mother why the mother cuts her roast in two.  The mother responds "I don't know, but your grandmother always did it that way."  So, they both approach the grandmother and ask her why the roast is always cut in two before putting it into the pot.  The grandmother blithely explains, "Oh, I would always cut it in two because I never had a pot that was big enough to hold the whole thing."  The tradition of cutting the roast in two originated from necessity two generations ago and was carried forward unwittingly even when the daughter and granddaughter had acquired larger pots.

Well, some work tasks and job responsibilities are like that.

They're handed down from generation to generation.  Nobody knows why their done anymore.  They simply acquire a life of their own.  They can be completely off the radar screen, yet demanding time and energy from otherwise busy or overburdened employees.

If you're good manager or supervisor you may want to proactively identify these sorts of responsibilities and tasks, and evaluate whether they ought to be put to rest.

If these sorts of responsibilities have accumulated over time or been passed down to your employees, now may be the time to reassess and eliminate them or to reassign them more appropriately.

Of course, it's easy enough to say nobody's complaining, so no changes are needed. 

But, the danger of inaction is that resources may be being unproductively consumed.  Here, by being proactive, you can address underlying hidden problems before they become problems.

One way to get a fix on any under-the-radar job tasks or responsibilities your employees have is to ask them to do a daily list of the work and tasks they perform.  Have them do this for a set amount of time.  Make sure your employees know why you're doing this and ask them to be complete in their listing.

When the process is finished, take a look at what your employees have been spending their time on.

Are there any tasks or responsibilities which no longer need to be done?  (If so, eliminate them.)  Or, are there tasks or responsibilities that are more sensibly performed by someone else either because they are more suited or they have more time in their schedule?  If so, reassign them.

Undertaking this process should allow you to not only help your office to become a more productive, but by intelligently eliminating unproductive tasks or reallocating tasks that are more appropriately performed by others, you can achieve a more balanced workload on the part of your employees and get better overall results as well.

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