Manager's Tips and Tools

by Manager Development Services

What’s a $9 Tool that can Save You a Million Bucks?


Vigilance: “the process of paying close and continuous attention; a state of alert watchfulness.”

The Power of Observation

Observe: 1) to watch carefully especially with attention to details or behavior for the purpose of arriving at a judgment. 2) to come to realize or know especially through consideration of noted facts.

In order to define Goals, recognize Success Factors, set and implement Standards, and operate with Effectivity, I must be aware of everything under my charge. And this is accomplished only by being observant – by being vigilant. I must constantly monitor the “pulse” of my staff by floating balloons, watching for red flags, and peeling the onion (chapter 16). I cannot procrastinate “fine tuning,” nor can I allow myself to slip into either “over confidence” or “complacency.” I must observe the culture of my workplace at all times and contemplate people, attitudes, purposes, passions, and processes.

If I am to manage well and with effectivity, it is essential I be observant. My staff are living, breathing individuals which work in unison to initiate a living, breathing process that, in turn, creates a business that is a living, breathing entity. If I am to be effective in monitoring Open Heaven, I need a living, breathing tool to assist me.

The Observation Book or The “In the Heat of the Battle” Book

This is a nine-dollar tool that’ll make you a million bucks. Also called a “In the Heat of the Battle Binder,” the Observation Book is simply a 3-ring binder with fifty or more numbered sections. Each section has a few blank pages in it. The first page in the binder should be a blank “Table of Contents” page.

As I observe, watching and listening, I jot down anything and everything I see, which needs attending to. First I check the “Table of Contents” and if there isn’t a section for what I need to note I add one. I then flip to that section and make a quick note on what I see, hear, or think. It seems that it’s usually when I’m the busiest (hence: “In the Heat of the Battle”) that I notice things which need attention, but I don’t have time at the moment. I used to make mental notes with the intention of getting back to them later, but would either forget or just procrastinate.

This proved to be the cause for great irritation and frustration when I would continually see the same things over and over, which I had forgotten or neglected. Each night at home, I would find myself going over and over in my head if there was anything I had forgotten, and would inevitably kick myself for missing something. Needless to say, my “fine-tuning” skills were seriously lacking.

By using the binder, I am able to quickly jot down what I see, promptly forget about it, and refocus on the task at hand. Later, when there’s a “lull in the battle,” I can return to my binder and attend to what needs attending. Some possible sections may include:

* Employees

* Sales Staff

* Operations Staff

* Support Staff

* Needs & Wants

* Red Flags

* Attitudes

* Processes

* Equipment

* Supplies

* Kingdoms and Territories

* Politics

* Landscaping

Notice “Landscaping?” I use this example to demonstrate that the Observation Book is used for anything and everything. As I was entering the building one morning, I noticed that the shrubs in a particular area were dying and one of the cement steps was cracked. A quick note in my binder reminded me later that day to call maintenance to check the shrubs (possible sprinkler failure) and to repair the step (potential lawsuit). It only took a minute and a phone call to prevent dead, unsightly shrubs and injury to a customer or staff.

The Observation Book will become a living, breathing entity. It is a pro-active file, which is going to lead to positive results. This binder will prevent me from “losing stuff” in the heat of the battle and save me time, frustration, and headaches in the long run. The Observation Book will assist me in discerning Success Factors, identifying primary problems, and cause and effect (the ripple effect) of a “primary problem.” It’s an invaluable tool in achieving my ongoing goal of daily defining and refining process. It is particularly valuable when either starting up a new department or inheriting an established.

– excerpt from, “Managing from the Heart – A Way of Life”                     

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October 4, 2011 - Posted by | Counseling Techniques, Leadership Skills, Manager Development Tools, Mentoring, Personal Development | , , , , , , , , ,

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