Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

What Is Going On Around Here?


What is going on around here???

In your work place do you often hear that good work can’t be done or done on time because everyone is too busy? Do you notice recurring problems related to quality or quantity of work or the interactions between employees? Does everything seem to be a disorganized mess and it’s not because of creative productivity it’s because things are a disorganized mess? Do you often think that few things get done efficiently and effectively–they only get done painfully and with one crisis after another?  Conduct a work audit and find out what is going on.

You can apply this same concept to your own work when you feel you are bogged down, when there have been complaints or hints about a need for a improvement or when you just want to reevaluate your efforts and results. You can also use the concept when you want to have something specific to take to your supervisor if you feel there are problems outside your control.

Steps for a quick work audit

  • Resist the thought that you know the problems already. If you do know what the problems are, you should be doing something specific about them.  However, whether you think you know what ails your work place or not, audit anyway to get a better look. One key benefit is that your conversations about it afterwards will let employees know you are aware of their work and their roles in the work place.  If you are looking at your own work, you can discuss it with your supervisor or manager to show that you are taking responsibility for your work and results.
  • Identify the core job description or work requirement. What is the essential work that must be done? If the essential mission isn’t happening in the right way, there is a breakdown or failure somewhere or with someone, no matter how sincerely people are trying or how well other things are being done.
  • Make a list of the people and processes that have the key roles in getting work done.  Focus on your own group but also consider where there might be weak or strong connections between your group and other areas. You may need to work with supervisors, managers or fellow employees in those areas to find solutions to problems. (Or you may need to find ways to work around those people, if they are determined to create problems.)
  • Review, survey and evaluate, using quick methods that give you snapshot of work.

Re-read emails or memos about work issues.
Talk to a few key internal or external clients or customers to get their perspectives.
Make a list of the problems, concerns and complaints you have heard from individuals in the group.
Look at work statistics or work products and see if there are deficiencies.
Go into work areas to see what is happening.
Now and then stop to listen and closely observe. 

Those actions will not give you the thorough assessment you might want to do later, but they can quickly help you understand:

  • The overall activity level of the work place and each individual employee.
  • What the work environment looks like, sounds like and feels like.
  • What is being done right now instead of work and how much time is being spent on that activity.
  • What work methods you are seeing that may keep work from being done effectively and efficiently.
  • The apparent attitudes of all levels about their work–employees, supervisors, managers, and others, based on what they say and do.
  • The status of the complete picture of good work: performance that is high in quality and quantity and behavior that is effective and appropriate.
  • Who is steadily working and who is not.
  • Who is assisting and who is distracting.
  • The end result of it all for clients, customers, users and others in the work chain. (In a short time you may get a very clear picture of why there have been complaints or grumbling!)

The bottom line: Improved effectiveness and efficiency and an improved work place starts with getting a picture of where things stand right now. Conduct a brief work audit to begin to find out. Take a few hours and briefly audit work–your own or the work of those for whom you are responsible. Then, get with each person for whom you are responsible and direct the immediate changes that are needed. Next, set a schedule for long-term improvement. It is possible to achieve that, so keep your focus and give others a focus as well.

March 22nd, 2010 Posted by | Personal and Professional Development, Service to Customers, Clients and Coworkers, Supervision and Management | 6 comments