5 Keys for Results-Driven Management - Master of Public Administration
In recent years, there has been a major shift away from actions-driven management toward results-driven management. This is true in both for profit and nonprofit worlds. Today, investors, donors and stakeholders expect a return on their investment and need to understand exactly how an organization will meet its goals.
It’s easy to confuse actions with results. Unfortunately, working hard is simply “doing.” When the work is not quality, it can lead to high costs and low productivity. By focusing more on results, rather than processes, organizations obtain more for less.
Simply put, when stakeholders invest in a project, they want to know what the end-result will be, and how success will be measured. The focus is no-longer on the steps that it takes to achieve this result. When developing a results-driven management strategy, here are 5 keys for success:
1. Keep the End-Goal in Mind
From the very beginning of a project, develop a clear picture of what will be accomplished. State this result clearly. For example, the producer of a big-budget movie could easily say that she plans to hire a specific number of actors and crew members, have sets built and record a certain number of hours. An investor might find that interesting, but it’s likely not why they’ve pumped money into the film. Rather, they are interested in the result. This movie will be seen by x people and bring in x dollars. Yes, the process is necessary, but the investment is being made based on the result.
When the focus remains on the end-goal, strategies can be adjusted along the way to achieve the desired results.
When the end-goal is not the focus, it’s easy to get distracted by day to day tasks.
It is important to develop goals from the onset of a project and ensure that these goals are realistic and achievable. Whether these goals are short-term or long-term, they should be clearly communicated to those who are expected to help achieve them, along with stakeholders so that everyone involved can effectively assess their progress.
2. Build on Previous Successes
By using each successive project as a testing ground, an effective manager creates a foundation of experience on which to build organization-wide improvement. Results-oriented teams receiving training in improvement techniques when needed and team-building programs are utilized to achieve goals, not simply for the sake of team-building.
By utilizing the previous experiences of each member of the project team, managers can choose activities based on what works, and avoid tasks that won’t achieve results. The success of one project can be used to develop a new project that produces even greater results.
3. Rely on Trial and Error
A certain level of experimentation reveals what works. Building on previous experiences is important, but innovation is only shown though incorporating new ideas. Of course, not every experiment produces desired results. Results-oriented managers incorporate the lessons learned from their experiments and rely on what works.
4. Provide Frequent Reinforcement
Great managers should take a step back, assess progress and provide positive reinforcement. Keeping reinforcement positive does not mean telling someone that an activity is working, when it is clearly not. It simply means focusing on what’s working and letting team members know. Repeated success is a powerful motivator and by pointing out successes, acknowledging mistakes and encouraging continued growth, managers build confidence in their teams and achieve greater results.
Providing consistent and reliable feedback requires effectively communicating goals to every member of a project team. Once a target is set, all team members should be frequently reminded of the goal and be made aware of where they are in the achievement process. All team members should understand what is expected of them and what they can do to obtain results.
5. Monitor Progress and Make Adjustments when Needed
Even the best plans need tweaking from time to time. As the world around a project changes, the project itself sometimes requires change as well. As new opportunities arise, effective managers respond quickly and take advantage of short cuts that can help them to reach their desired goal quickly. This ties in to providing reinforcement, as managers should clearly explain why any changes are being made and how they will affect the end-goal.
Developing milestones and tailoring projects and activities to meet these milestones is the basis of results-driven management. Being able to adapt to this management strategy is essential, and is about more than adapting to trends, but about obtaining long-term results. When each day begins with focus on “what do I have to do today,” far less is achieved than when it begins by thinking “what can I do to achieve my goals.” By shifting focus, money, time and valuable resources are saved, and that makes managers more valuable to their team and their employers.
The online Master of Public Administration from Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) gives students a broad understanding of the field and its relevant issues. Students become competent at defining public problems, analyzing quantitative and qualitative data, developing and communicating creative solutions, and implementing ethical and practical courses of action.