What expectations should HR/the firm place on managers?
It's too common for there to be little to...
Being a manager means you're 100% responsible for everything that happens in your unit, and everything that fails to happen, whether you know about it or not.
This is a huge level of responsibility.
In order to accept this responsibility -- while not actually doing all the work yourself -- you will need to create systems to ensure things happen.
Ensuring things happen is not trivial. Humans have been trying to address this challenge for millennia.
The best pattern I've seen for dealing with this is the five-element PRoPeLS Pattern: Policy, Role, Process, Log, and Standard.
The five elements of PRoPeLS are simple. But if you don't know that all these elements go together, you miss a glorious opportunity to improve your management game. If one or more of the five is missing, or if you jumble some of the elements together, you can create big enforcement and maintenance problems for yourself and your team.
Here are shorter and longer definitions of each, followed by an example.
You've probably made use of the PRoPeLS pattern yourself thousands of times. You've probably invented a few, in at least partial form.
As a restaurant manager you want to establish clear ownership of your Clean Restroom Policy.
First, should your policy talk about the act of cleaning, or the state of being clean? Notice the difference:
I prefer to completely separate the Policy ("must be clean") from any description of HOW it is accomplished. If you're working the graveyard shift and nobody has used the restroom in three hours, do you still need to clean it three times? Probably not. Should you walk through and verify it hourly? Probably yes -- someone could have used it messily without your awareness.
If nobody owns the work, it's not going to get done reliably. Think of the phrase, "That's not my job." Assign the work in such a way that a specific person knows that the carrying out of the policy is, indeed, their job. Include their role name in the policy assignment, and include the policy name in their job description.
Example clause in the Policy assignment statement: The busboy is responsible for ensuring the restrooms are kept clean according to the Clean Restroom Policy, and for executing the steps of the Cleaning the Restroom Process. The manager is responsible for ensuring that the Clean Restroom Policy is upheld.
Example clause in the Busboy Job Description: The busboy is responsible for ensuring the restrooms are kept clean according to the Clean Restroom Policy, and for executing the steps of the Cleaning the Restroom Process.
The Process is the series of steps that, when carried out, reliably delivers the result the Policy is asking for. Processes can be quite lengthy -- here's a sample from Imperial Dade, The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Your Commercial Restroom in 14 Steps. A good Process will include preparation steps, a list of required equipment and supplies, and notes on how to verify you've done a good job.
Example text from the Imperial Dade process: Remove any debris from in and around the toilet and urinals. Place any urinal strainers in a bucket of disinfectant solution. Flush the toilet to make sure it is clear and working properly. Remove all visible soils with a multi-purpose cleaner or cleaner/disinfectant. (See the full Process at the link above.)
A good Process is hugely helpful in empowering staff to deliver quality results. I strongly suggest you have your top performers create and revise your key Processes and that you encourage suggestions and improvements. As Sam Carpenter says in Work the System, "If a staff member recommends a change, and affiliated staff and direct management concur, the working procedure [Process] will be tweaked instantly."
A Log is a business record of events that occur that are relevant to the business. No policy is complete without a log, because the log provides proof of evidence of the policy being enacted. You should log each instance when a Process is carried out. Include the date, time, individual doing the work, and any other details needed to track compliance with the Policy.
Make it clear to your people that falsifying a Log is illegal and, depending on severity, could be a firable offense. A person who is found guilty of falsifying a document may face civil penalties such as fines or a loss of professional license.
Where the Process helps staff do the work, the Log helps management have visibility into what work got done. If there is no Log, there is neither auditability nor accountability.
A Standard is a place to answer the question "at what quality?" Sometimes a Policy includes a Standard baked in: "Each restroom must be clean and must be inspected for cleanliness hourly."
If your work calls for a deeper dive into creating policy statements, articulating business rules, and empowering staff to devise clever and adaptive ways to carry out your strategy, I recommend these resources:
See Also: Enforcing Compliance with Policy (forthcoming)
While much of my content is aimed at senior leaders, I often get questions regarding how we can...