Abundant Optimism

Helping people regain and keep an optimistic outlook in challenging circumstances and improve their creativity, mind, and skills.

Who is Waiting on You?

by Tamara Martfeld

Within the business environment supervisors regularly review the work of those they supervise. This is generally good and frequently needed. However, when the supervisor fails to review the work and it never gets back to the worker or moved forward, whichever is the correct action, the supervisor then becomes a bottleneck to the process.

Are you one of these bottlenecks? Is there something that has been on your desk for more than a week without being touched waiting for your review? Or worse, is all the work of one of your employees stopped simply because you have not reviewed anything for months? I mention the last situation because it happened to me as an employee. On a former desk I had 12 major projects at a standstill waiting for the supervisor to review the work, and nothing I did increased the speed of the review.

I know. Some of you with this problem are stating that reviewing a given work product is just not the highest priority. Although this may be true, it is not really an acceptable excuse. Work is being held-up because of you. If all the work of an employee is on your desk that employee may be being paid to come into work and twiddle thumbs while waiting for feedback. Neither is a positive situation.

So what can you do?

First of all, if reviewing the given work product is not a priority, ask yourself if it really needs to be reviewed. Sometimes a review is just a step to enable the supervisor to feel in control. Other times it is there as a remnant to another process and the review is cursory and truly not needed. Procedures or processes may have changed to make the review obsolete, for example, automating a manual process. If a review is truly not needed, then discontinue reviewing the work. It will make your office more efficient. If reviewing the work is not a priority you might also ask if the work itself really needs to be done. Perhaps the employee should be assigned to higher priority work and eliminate the current work of the employee.

If a review is needed and still not a priority, then schedule just 15 minutes in a day to review part of the work. Using 15 minute increments will eventually complete the review with a minimal amount of time per day spent on the review. It will also give you a break from your higher priority work, and that break may make you more efficient in completing the higher priority work. This 15 minute trick can also be used for small tasks which build up when not completed regularly such as filing, returning phone calls, going through mail, or cleaning out your e-mail folders.

If you are in a situation where many items are needing reviewed and it just cannot be done timely, let the employee know what is holding up the work. If all of an employee’s work is on your desk and that employee has nothing else to do, maybe that employee can help with the review of work from other desks. This will help give the employee experience toward promotion and may cut down on your work – a win-win situation. The peer review is frequently used in my office and helps the supervisor when the employee finds items needing fixed which can be addressed before the supervisor reviews the work. In our office it is used as an additional step to reduce the supervisor’s work and as a training tool to enable an employee to see situations not present within their normal workload.

In any case, if you are a bottleneck you are making your office less efficient. I hope one of my remedies will work for you. If not, find another remedy. This would be a good goal for this new year – finding a manner in which to discontinue being a bottleneck.