Set It and Forget It

As a young staffing manager I was always looking for the perfect combination of policies and metrics to make managing operations easier.  I wanted to find the perfect compensation plan to motivate my reports, the   perfect metrics to establish expectations, and the perfect meetings to drive effective communication and collaboration.  What I wanted to create was a turn-key operation that managed itself.  After all, we hear consultants and authors advocate methods that basically promise a self-managing organization.  Unfortunately, those promises are simply gimmicks.

The best way to understand gimmicks is to listen to an infomercial, specifically one infomercial that got the better of me about 15 years ago.  I was watching an infomercial on a rotisserie cooker that would cook restaurant quality food with little to no work.  All you needed to do was set it and forget it.   I ordered the cooker, unwilling to pass on this once in a lifetime opportunity.  While I had buyer’s remorse it was nothing compared to the disappointment when I saw the big yellow warning label not to leave the cooker unattended.  So much for set it and forget it.

I put similar faith into the impact of formal management policies, processes and tools.  Many believe the myth that perfect framework can bring management nirvana:  A set it and forget it productive organization.   However, our industry is far too unforgiving to make this a reality. Why?  Regardless of what tools, processes or policies we develop, we must always be actively engaged and aware of what is happening within our operations.

There is no set it and forget it in staffing management.  Metrics, tools, and policies are only meant to better inform our judgment and strengthen our influence. Systems cannot replace people, and to attempt to do so is to reduce both to mere gimmicks.