I recently started my new role and, after familiarising myself with the various tasks and processes, identified a time management issue within my role and started to look at ways to resolve it. My new involves identifying the requirements of the store and planning for the delivery of those requirements in the time frame provided by the business development team. I identified that there were problems occurring due to the way in which the project information was provided. The project appears on a weekly document showing all upcoming projects, this document indicates the type of project and the time lines for delivery. I would then wait for the information to filter through to me before starting to plan the project and place the orders. This information could arrive a week before the project was due. With suppliers based in the UK, this provided a lot of logistical problems as well. This had been responsible for creating delays and incorrect orders in the past as the instructions have not been communicated in a timely manner, meaning that the planning is rushed, and mistakes are made as the project has had to be pushed into an already heavy workload.
My idea, based on the first topic of time management, was to change the whole process to assist all involved. This idea involved the use of a time frame for all projects which included the whole process, rather than just the time lines once the project was on site. To start I noted the time taken for each part of my involvement in the project and spoke with suppliers to agree timeframe for their deliveries and possible areas for improvement in service. We were working on a week from receipt of order to delivery to the warehouse in Sweden. This created issues with the quality of the item received as, quite often, the packaging was rushed and items would arrive damaged. it became clear where we could make improvements, I have since implemented a 6 week notification period for projects meaning that we are aware of projects further in advance, we receive all information at least 20 working days before the items are due on site giving our suppliers have more time to prepare the orders and giving us all have a better chance of completing the project correctly first time We have agreed with the suppliers that they can send their orders direct to the stores.
The previous process was that anything supplied from the UK was sent to the UK warehouse, forwarded to the Swedish warehouse and then added to the main shopfitting order from the Swedish warehouse and sent to the store. This increased the risk of damages and reduced the time the supplier had to create the order and ship it. Using the direct to store method is also saving the stores and company money by reducing transport and storage costs as well as reducing the time it takes to resolve an issue (we now have one point of call instead of three should we need to determine where damages or losses occurred). It also allows me to better manage my time. I am aware of the project and can plan a suitable amount of time in my diary to accommodate this around my other commitments. We have been trialling this method for three weeks now and everyone involved feels that this process will move us in the right direction. The first project will be delivered in three weeks time and so far we have not experienced as many problems as we had previously.
I used ‘Bringing our feelings into our reflection’ by Pedlar et al (2001). The example was based on a reaction to events that had happened and were currently happening; we then tried to establish if there was a better way of working, using the thoughts and ideas section, we looked at how we were currently working and how we could work to improve our performance. Firstly we needed to recognise the negatives and improve on those before improving on the parts of the process which worked well but not as well as we needed them too. This included the mistakes that were happening and looking at why they were happening.
Once we understood this, we could look at the actions which needed to taken. We had spotted recurring themes in the nature of the mistakes. After looking at improving the performance it was easy to see how the mistakes were happening and we added this to the actions to be taken and process improvements. The next step will be a review, as the first project will not be delivered for another 3 weeks we are in the process of discussing how the success of the changes will be measured. This will involve the team discussing the project and reflecting on how this has worked and where any further improvements can be made.
The below excerpts show my contributions to the TGF since my submission of TMA 2 The below, is an example of a post reflecting on a learning event following the implementation of my work based learning topics Posted 21/07/12
What was the experience; what did you do?
The experiences was around the layout and ease of use of a specific form the Business Development team complete before handing to us. It contains part numbers, descriptions and a column for them to indicate how many we need to order on their behalf for a project. The form was small, all one colour and the part codes were mixed together making it very difficult to work through a project in a linear way.
I redesigned the form so that the details can be added depending on which area of the store you are in, each part is colour coded and the part numbers are in order. Feedback has been very positive so far.
What was your view about the most significant aspects; your reflections?
My view on the most significant aspects was to make the Business development team’s job as easy as possible, they do not have the time to stand and hunt for parts so making it clear and easy to read was the first important step
What lessons could you draw from it: the “so what?” question or generalisations
For any future forms or procedures which involve a member of staff from another department to fill it in, we should consult with them and ask them what it is that they need from it.
What will you do to take account of these? What’s your action plan?
A review of all other forms is now under way, with the view to making them uniform as much as possible but most importantly making them useable.
The next excerpt is an example of my replies to other student’s posts following their reflection I’m coming in a bit late here due to being on holiday. I had same thoughts as you Mark regarding comments made and the difference between Managing Time (effectively) and Managing Time (recording) An area of work I need to improve is the management of email Inbox. I have difficulty in refraining from having a read of an email as soon as it arrives, which not only interrupts current work, but I still need to go back to it later. When I do go for a “Clear Out”, it may be in no particular order, quick wins are targeted, and larger matters deferred. An aim is to introduce a priority/time managed system, with periods of the day set aside for certain work categorisation topics such as Finance, Manning, Operational, customer etc. If they are subsequently grouped and addressed on-bloc, I hope to be more efficient when dealing with each topic giving more time for other things Gary B
I think your way of currently handling your e-mails is very common for most of us. I have seen others in my team being much more efficient by closing their e-mail system down completely and only going into it a few times a day. I can see the benefits but I would be nervous about missing something key! I have also chosen this as one of my work topics and trying to decide on a balance between what I currently do and the “extreme” method of shutting down. pHs – hope you had a good holiday
30 Jul 2012, 17:10
We ‘implemented’ a system a while back which was helpful.
We asked that emails coming in were prioritised; meaning that anything which needed doing in 24 hours was priority 1, within 2-3 working days was priority 2 etc.
Worked for the most part for us and it also meant that everyone was aware of the things they were asking us to do.
Following from the TGF discussions, I haven’t changed anything originally in my learning contract. I have been checking the forums to see if there are any suggestions or follow on discussions from my posts but, unfortunately, I have only had one reply from other students. This is quite disappointing as I was hoping for some outside views. The reply asked me whether I was including other departments in the changes I wanted to make which I was, I have been checking to see if others are sharing their information and to see if this may be useful to me. I have not changed my plans from the initial learning contract following any of the TGF discussions.
Section 1: Possible Learning Topics
Having looked through all the topic guides, I think the three most relevant to my working situation are Topic 1 Time Management, Topic 3 Self and career management and topic 6 working relations and communications. My two first choices are Time management and Working relations and communications. I am basing this on the fact that I will shortly be taking over a new role involving new tasks and a new team of people based overseas. I will need time management to help me assess which tasks in my new role are priorities and to help me look at how I will manage these tasks. I will need working relations and communications as again this is a new role to me and the people I will be dealing with will be from the Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Denmark) and I will need to adjust the way in which I communicate to each of them. I will also need to find the most effective method of communication with them in order to make decision making and understanding easier for everyone. Self and career management is my third choice as I think that I can more easily influence communications and my own time management at this point.
Section 2: You and Your Learning Context:
I have been influenced in my decisions by being assigned a new role within the company. I have had very little exposure to this side of the business previously so everything will be new to me. Most of my learning will come from cycles of enquiry, based on my findings, to issues and adjusting the solution until it fits the majority of people involved. I may be restricted at first as people do not like change; however the department and company as a whole are open to changes in working practices if it is for the better of that department. My challenge will be to convince them that the changes will be for the better and that I am there to help them. I will also need to persuade them to provide me with their feedback as this will be a crucial part of the change process. Any new processes need to be reviewed to assess their progress. Self and career management (as my back up) will be more difficult to influence in the work place as there are not many opportunities to analyse your own career management within my company, access to information and help are not always forthcoming.
Section 3 Your Learning Objectives
For topic one (Time Management), I intend to learn how to manage my time in a more effective way by understanding how the new role works and what tasks are expected of me as well as the time scales involved in these tasks. From understanding the role better, I can then prioritise my workload in order to perform the role more efficiently. By having a prioritised workload, I will then be able to allocate time to improving processes and communicating those to the team which links to topic six. I will to have this understood and implemented by week 20 of the course. I will use my email diary to plan slots for the time sensitive tasks. This will then allow me to build in other tasks around them. I think topic six will be closely linked to topic one. Being able to improve communications between myself and the overseas team, I will be able to assess issues more quickly.
Therefore, my objective for this topic is to make the processes simpler, this will happen after learning how the role works and being able to assess changes to be made to the role and the processes to make them easier. I think that by working with the team to make changes which make working life easier, the working relations will improve and they will be more open to discussions about future changes. I would like to have this moving and starting to take shape around week 18 of the course at which point I expect to see a better flow of communication and fewer problems resulting in fewer emails. Slightly before Topic one as I think the communication will need to be in place before changes are made. For topic three, I would need to have discussions with our HR department and also with my line manager in order to gain knowledge in how I can manage my career within the company. Once I understand this aspect of the topic I can then look into managing myself and how I work in order to then influence how I manage my career.
Section 4 Learning Strategy and Resources
Topic one – Time management. Week 12 will be my first week in the new role, during this week I will assess the tasks and workload. Week 13 will be discussions with my mentor with reference to my first week and how I see the job. Week 14 will be planning improvements to the processes. Week 15 I will present my suggestions to my line manager in order to gain approval. Week 16 I will work on finalising processes for improvement. Week 17 will be my presentation to the team as a whole in order to gain their thoughts on the changes. Week 18 will be for them to come to me with questions or suggestions for improvement. Week 19 will be final tweaks to the changes and processes. Week 20 will be implementation week for the new processes and weeks 21-24 will be a continual review period where changes are made as necessary before the cut off at the end of week 24 where all changes will go live for everyone. During this time I will have access to the topic guide, my line manager and mentor as well as my colleague in the UK and the rest of the team in the Nordic countries.
I will be seeking input in the first instance from all of them. From my manager to make sure that I am not complicating things, from my colleague in the UK in case they have anything in use already which could just be amended to suit and from the Nordic team so that they are involved in the process. This will help with their buy in for the changes. Topic 6 – working relations and communications. Week 12 discussions with manager and the wider international team to start the channels of communication and for me to introduce myself to them all. Week 13 discussions with my mentor and manager to discuss my concerns and issues after the first week. Week 14, Discussions with my UK colleague in order to see if there are any immediate changes which can be made to improve communications. Week 15, along with presenting my findings to my manager we can discuss how to communicate this to the team.
Week 16 work on finalising my proposals and the way in which they are presented. Week 17, present to the wider team using the methods agreed with my manager. Weeks 18-24 continued assessment and improvement of communications with the team resulting in better understanding across the board by the end of week 24. Throughout this I will be using my manager and mentor as well as the topic guide to assist me in choosing the right method of communication for my proposals. My manager will assist me in implementation and my mentor will assist me with confirming my ideas. Topic three – self and career management. I would use my manager and HR for this topic and gain their insight into what I would need to do in order to manage my career. Once I know this I can then make a plan to manage myself in order to manage the next steps in my career.
Section 5: Demonstrating Your Learning:
For topic one I will be able to show that I have improved my time management skills by being able to take on other tasks, which will appear in my diary and also on my performance review, for the team and by being able to address issues more quickly. The previous incumbent had issues with running out of time for their day to day tasks so knowing that this is currently an issue can be a guide for me and my improvement. I will know that I have achieved my aims by the feedback received from my team and manager; this will be sought on an individual basis based on the feedback required. Currently missed deadlines are an issue for the team as a whole. This is a large objective for the job role and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis. Emails and performance reviews are indicators for this however, the performance review falls after the end of the course. I will need to seek feedback from the team in order to fulfil this demonstration. For topic six, I will be able to show that I have achieved my goals by successfully communicating my needs to the team and by successfully implementing the improvements with them.
Without correct and clear communications, the proposals will not be accepted by them as they will not understand the requirements. I will know that the improvements are being carried out as I will see the improvements to my working practice and work load as well as a better relationship between myself and the rest of the team. I will have new forms to present and a new process for how the role will run in conjunction with their needs and expectations. Topic three would involve me having a personal development plan or career goal to aim towards following my discussions with my manager and HR department. I would know that I had achieved my goal by having the plan in place and also by making the management and HR function aware that I would like to consider my options within the company and them communicating their suggestions to me. I plan to create a work based PDP with my line manager to support this.