As an Operations Manager I am often asked this follow up question when I explain what I do for a living, “Okay, what does that exactly mean?” If I am feeling a little snarky, I will reply “What do you want it to mean today!?” After which I go into a partial laundry list of all the duties I oversee, from making sure the correct insurance policies are in place to budgeting and forecasting future profits.
Being an operations manager, especially of a small business, one wears many hats and is pulled in many different directions between a variety of projects and tasks. Much of the time can be spent scrambling from task to task throughout the day, only to realize at the end of your day that the original plan from the morning has totally been derailed. All of which can be very overwhelming causing stress & anxiety, which causes us to be less productive, efficient, and ultimately nto fully engaged in our job.
Here are a few effective tips, which can help organize and alleviate the chaos an operations person likely faces:
Have at Minimum a Weekly Priority Meeting
- Meet with supervisors and necessary employees at least once a week to organize your priority list (try to have this separate from a regular staff meeting). If you are unable to have an in person meeting use Google Hangout or some virtual form of meeting. Sometimes a quick call is all that is needed. Priorities can be a moving target and a task, which was important last week, may be on the back burner this week. It best to stay informed!
- Have your own simple to do list. Many of us use project management software, but these can be busy and overwhelming. Co-workers are often “too busy” and weeks can go by before updates are given. Be proactive so your time is spent wisely and you regain some control!
Let It Go!!
Like the words from the song so many of us do not ever want to hear ever again, let tasks go and give them to someone else. I find many (most) of us on some level are control freaks and have a hard time letting go of work, duties, and responsibilities. We like to be in control. We say things like, “I am so busy to train someone to do it”, or “they wont do as good a job as I coul.” If these are thoughts you often have, try out a virtual assistant. There are services for all levels of work. Handing control over is a tough thing for most of us, so start with smaller items and test the waters to slowly gain trust.
Create an Operations Manual that documents policies and procedures for tasks you need to get done. As I write this I can see eyes rolling, we already have enough on our plate and want to get it done, but now you are telling me to write the process down and take more time… Believe me I have had the same sentiments, but ultimately the benefits far outweigh the negatives. The manual does not need to be anything fancy and can even just be bullet points that shares steps for completion.
As you move through different tasks, create a manual behind it. Using a program such as Jing, a more robust print screen option, or Start Meeting, where you can make a video of a procedure you are completing, is highly effective. The processes recorded will give an instruction manual to anyone you may want to delegate it to.
50/10 or A Variation
Work for 50 minutes on a project or task and reward yourself with a 10-minute break. Take a walk, look at social media (careful to not go down the rabbit hole here), etc. When you come back switch tasks or work on the current one for another 50 minutes. This will inevitably help with the end of day burn out feeling and is especially effective when completing tasks we may not be the most excited about.
Take a Break With a Mind Clearing Activity
Most of us know this is something we should do, but never follow through with it. Work is there and it needs to get done. We feel that there is always SOMETHING to get caught up with or maybe even get us ahead. The problem is, work will always be there and we can’t create more time for ourselves. Continuing to not take time for ourselves causes us to ultimately become less productive and effective over time.
So take some time with a mind clearing activity. Whether it be yoga, time with your family, golf, just something which will take keep your mind and get it focused on something other than work. (Television is not recommended).
Recently, studies have shown how meditation has many health and productivity benefits. This is a great relaxing, mind clearing activity. Many people hear the word “meditation” and think of maybe some of the more colorful people like I knew at my Alma Matter CU, Boulder, but in reality there are many types which any one can do.
Meditation will help reduce your chance of burn out, increase or maintain your engagement, and allow you to be more effective and probably be happier/less stressed.
Most of these tips (if not all) are not ground breaking or new. I have found in many past years as an Operations Manager that it is often time the simplest tricks and tips that we forget about and end up being the most effective.
Try some of these out for yourself and see what works, you may need to have a few variations till you find a sweet spot. Sometimes we need to change things up. What we have been doing is not working anymore and it is time to try something new. It is important to move forward, remember what works, and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE the tools that will help you excel along your career path for years to come!
By Nick Ritz, Chief Operations Officer at Institute for Mastering Success
© 2015, Institute for Mastering Success