I was rummaging around my hard drive and found this. I know I am getting old because I cannot remember how long ago I wrote it or for what purpose. This continues my theme about planning. I think there are many ways to go about planning and one size does not fit all. The point is not exactly HOW you do it but that you DO IT.
A work plan may seem like something that encourages control freaks, but it is the opposite. With a good and well understood plan, employment and engagement comes easier.
What is a work plan?
Managers create and use work plans to ensure that their team knows what to work on and how to weigh competing priorities. A work plan can be formal or informal and may address the areas:
- Task lists. Work plans define which tasks need to be completed and by whom.
- Skills development. Work plans should include tasks that ensure team members learn the skills they need to meet current or emerging requirements. When training needs are not identified as part of the work plan, they are often overlooked, put off, or ignored. For a team to produce results today and in the future, managers must identify the development that will be necessary.
- Process improvement. Processes enable the team to product results and need to be updated and improved regularly to ensure they continue to support productivity goals. Work plans should identify tasks or projects needed to optimize process efficiency.
- Time frame covered. Depending on the nature of the work, work plans can be created monthly, weekly, or on a project by project basis (making it a project plan). Work plans can also get broken down by day into task lists that highlight key priorities and desired results.
- Resource management. Work plans integrate various goals and projects into a plan that lets team members know who is doing each task and how the work that everyone will be doing adds up to the total of what needs to be accomplished. For example, if a team has four major projects, a work plan will define how the team´s resources will be deployed to complete all the work for all four projects.
- Deadlines and milestones. Work plans define when work needs to be completed and interim milestones that are important to accomplishing results on time. Work that needs to be handed off to other team members or departments is identified and agreements made about when and how the handoff will occur are spelled out in the work plan.
- Links to goals and expectations. When team members know how their work supports goals and expectations, performance improves. Work plans can ensure that this link is clear by distinguishing how daily and weekly tasks support goals and expectations.
Why create a work plan?
All managers have the responsibility to produce results. Throughput improves when assignments are clear and organized. Work plans enable managers to plan and execute work that is focused and aligned to achieve goals. Managers need to know what their team members are working on and that they are doing the work that will make the greatest difference to the company — work plans can be used to make certain this is the case. A monthly work plan that ties to the team´s overall goals and expectations help the manager focus on both the daily needs of the business and the broader strategies and goals. In absence of a well defined work plan, managers may have a tendency to get drawn into the daily work and lose sight of the results they are expected to achieve.