The 21T Task Cycle
In order to serve its purpose and achieve its goals in the context of limited time and resources, a well-run organisation will determine what activities it focuses on as key to success – and what activities are unproductive or inappropriate and should be avoided. From there, daily decisions are made about what gets done, how and by who. Some of these activities become projects consisting of many tasks, and some are simply “freestanding” tasks within the organisational context. And, just as projects are a sequential collection of tasks, tasks are a sequential collection of sub-tasks, all of which have to be completed successfully and on time for the organisation to meet its objectives. This means that overall success can only be achieved by the effective, efficient and timely execution of perhaps thousands of sub-tasks – something commonly overlooked or taken-for-granted. Such failures to meet task requirements, even at the smallest scale, compromise everything else, often at the expense of profitability, safety, customer satisfaction, time, opportunity, employee sentiment or anything else that matters. Not sure? The riveters on the Titanic might have a view on that.
Perhaps the most important part of this acknowledgement is the one that accompanies it – that most of these costly failures are avoidable.
Consequently, it is clear that the primary role of supervisory managers is to ensure that each and every project, task and sub-task is executed to an acceptable (if not high) standard in terms of both quality and time. The daily challenge for supervisory managers is in how, along with their other with many varied responsibilities, stresses and interruptions, they might best delegate tasks so as to achieve a superior outcome every time with every member of the team. Ideally, the manager and his or her team would also be able to simultaneously improve their own skills in task execution, problem-solving, communication and overall competence.
As a result of years of behavioural research and testing, we found that almost every worthwhile task, no matter how small or apparently insignificant, has the potential to become meaningful and important not only the organisation and its customers, but to the person or team charged with executing it. We also identified the delegation skill shortfalls in task segmentation, clarity, communication, expectation-setting, context, competency, resourcing and psychological rewards that lead to unnecessary errors, finding that most of them could be avoided quite easily.
The result is the 21T Task Cycle, a simple and easy-to-follow task delegation and management process consisting of a small number of checklist action steps that all supervisory managers can implement with any individual or team in any circumstance. As a management development tool it fosters the right sorts of language, conversations and professional relationships. As a quality tool it virtually eliminates uncertainty, non-compliance or poor work. As an efficiency tool it enhances productivity and timeliness. As a behaviour and culture-shaping tool it identifies, highlights and reinforces desirable actions and outcomes while reducing stress and customer dissatisfaction. And, just as importantly, it is responsive to the individual competencies of individual employees, thereby solving the disengagement and waste caused by under- or micro- management. So many problems solved so easily – no wonder we’re excited about it!
As a fast seven step process, the 21T Task Cycle is an extremely simple, extremely effective and essential management resource for ensuring the successful execution of tasks, performance goals and organisational purpose. And because the 21T Task Cycle is so simple, it’s fast and inexpensive to teach, understand and implement with immediate measurable benefits in improved productivity and profitability. There’s also the bonus of not-so-fringe benefits such as reduced stress, improved team engagement, improved customer satisfaction and superior organisational culture – for everyone.