BrainTrust Query: Can Task Management Go Too Far?
By Bill Bittner, President, BWH Consulting
Talk to anyone outside of store operations
and they will give you an ear full about poor execution at store level.
Talk to anyone in store operations and they will give you an ear full about
all the stupid requests they get from category managers, marketing, human
resources and loss prevention. The truth probably lies somewhere between
the two perspectives, but most would agree that things could stand improvement
and the latest tools to address the issue are task management applications.
Task management applications range from simple
to-do lists that can be used by individuals to set their personal priorities,
to network-based applications that help coordinate merchandising plans
across multiple locations by scheduling display preparation and other in-store
activities. The fundamental steps for task management involve: planning,
allocating, setting goals, organizing, prioritizing, scheduling, delegation,
monitoring, and analysis of time spent.
By moving these steps to the network, it
is easier for everyone dependent on store performance to see how their
activities overlap and monitor their execution. For example, maybe it makes
more sense to wait until the upcoming reset to clean the shelves. By making
requests visible to everyone and coordinating execution, the burden on
the store can be reduced.
Task management applications can help the
store achieve better results, but there could be a downside in the loss
of “ownership” by store management. Traditionally the store manager works
with department heads to plan weekly activities and set priorities. To
the extent that the task management application organizes all the demands
on the store and discourages outside departments from overloading the store,
it is a help. But if store managers no longer have the authority to set
priorities or manage the activity within their four walls, will the store
lose the hands-on fine-tuning that many organizations rely on?
Numerous studies have shown that as people relinquish control they
become less committed to results. Could task management be “over utilized?” Could
it be implemented in such a way that the store personnel feel like
they are no longer involved in results?