Achieving More Through Active Management

When discussing lower management and supervisory levels skills, management consultants often speak of Active Management Behaviours and how they affects operational performance. But what is Active management, how does it help to achieve more and how can one implement it within the organisation? This white paper will shed some more light on the different activities and how active management affects operational performance.

What is Active Management?

Active management is a concept that defines how managers and supervisors should behave when efficiently managing the operations they are in charge of. It is made of 7 activities and behaviours that the people in these roles must express in their professional life and when interacting with their teams. The seven Active Management behaviours are: Planning team members’ activities, Assigning tasks to the team, Following up on the performance, Problem solving, Giving feedback, Coaching and training, Reporting back to the team and up within the hierarchy. A more detailed description of these can be found below.

How does Active Management Improve Performance?

Active Management forces supervisors to behave in a structured way and to control their area in a more proactive way. Rather than ad hoc planning and dealing with issues, it creates a plan of action that can be executed on a daily basis. Giving performance expectations to the team allows them to work towards a goal which in turn increases efficiency (if the goal is stretched but still realistic). It also enables management to find out what is going wrong as it is happening so that it can be dealt with before it overturns the plan. Depending on the organisation implementing, Active Management will on average, give an efficiency increase of 5 to 15%. However, there have been situations where the increase has been as high as 30%.

Implementing Active Management Behaviours When They Are Needed

Implementing Active Management is the same as a behavioural change program. It is a transformation in thinking and acting on a day to day basis. An organisation that has been around for a couple of years, will most likely have an ingrained culture of doing things in a certain way which may or may not be the right way of doing things. Introducing active management means that the old, less efficient behaviours will need to be changed into new ones. The change will be taking place not only at the level targeted but also one or two levels above. The initial steps of introducing this change can be done fairly quickly. However, it will require sustaining for a minimum of 12 months after the introduction. This usually should be done at mid management level.

Active Management In Different Industries and Professions

Active management differs depending on the industry and level within a company. On a production line that does not change, the daily targets planning and assignments might be reduced to a minimum. In a maintenance environment where everything changes on a daily basis, a new and detailed plan should be created every day. A unit president might only give a high level expectation to the people working for him and would probably be following up the realisation once a week (if that), while a shift manager in a potato chips factory will explain in detail what he expects from whom and will follow up at least a few times per shift.

How Much Time Should Be Spent on Active Management?

On average, lower level managers and supervisors should spend 35 to 45% of their time managing people working for them. This figure will decrease the higher in an organisation we go.

Active Management Behaviours In Detail

    • Planning team members’ activities
      The first activity deals with preparing the day for the team by defining in detail: what activities they will be doing by person (or team), at what time this takes place, how long each activity should take, what resources are needed and what is the expected outcome. The planning activity requires knowledge of the time a specific task should take. At the end of this the supervisors or manager should have a clear, and if possible, a visualised plan for the day.
    • Assigning tasks to the team
      As the working day starts, the supervisor or manager should gather his or her team and explain to each and everyone what they will be doing and when, how long it should take, how they should do it, what resources they will need and, what the expected outcomes are. This sets expectations for the team and gives them performance targets. At the end of the assignment meeting the team must acknowledge that they have understood and that they will deliver as expected. At this point the manager or supervisors needs to inform that he or she will check on the performance throughout the day.
    • Follow up
      As the day goes the supervisor needs to visit the team and review their performance, find out if there are any issues, if resources should be reassigned to meet the target. This is to be done in the field where the work is being done.
    • Problem solving
      As issues arise from the follow up check, the supervisor or manager must handle them so that the plan comes to fruition.
    • Giving feedback
      During the follow up, the supervisor will notice both positive and negative attitudes within the team. These need to be acknowledged and reported back to those members of the team in order for them to understand and improve their performance. This is crucial to point out these traits otherwise they will never have the opportunity to progress.
    • Coaching and training
      In some cases some of the team members will require coaching and training to be able to deliver their targets. The role of the supervisor is here to help them improve by showing how this is to be carried out or by arranging specific training.
    • Reporting
      As the day comes to an end the supervisor or manager needs to report back on the performance of the day to the team, so that they know how well they have performed. This same information needs to be passed along to those higher within the organisation.

Where Does Active Management Fit In

Active management should be seen as an integral part of Operational Excellence but it can also be implemented on its own or as a part of a step change program. To make it sustainable it requires some preparation in the form of well defined plans and performance KPIs, all of which are a vital part of a good Management System.

Designing Active Management

Excelr8 can help in designing and implementing Active Management. We start by first assessing the current state. This tells us what the weaknesses are and allows us to create a “to be” behavioural system. We do this in collaboration with the people that will need to change their behaviours. As a last step, we train and coach managers in these new behaviours. This takes a few weeks to complete. Once our involvement is completed, the organisation itself will need to monitor and sustain the change. Please contact us to find out how we can assist you or to arrange a meeting with one of our experts.