Leaders need appropriate managerial tools for job

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 September, 2007, 12:00am

Companies specialising in corporate training often point at the benefit of equipping business managers not just in problem solving but also in problem prevention. Here, two training experts offer advice in both areas.

Chan Yuk-kau, chairman of business education provider Six Sigma Institute, said that non-managerial personnel could certainly be recruited to learn on-the-job in management positions. 'However, he or she should have knowledge in common managerial tools such as decision making and problem solving.

'Also, he or she should have professional know-how in his or her trade or industry; know-how to develop team spirit and enhance team motivation; and be equipped with expertise in quality management and work-flow improvement.

'To foresee problems, one cannot be too complacent and should have an open mind. One needs to accept new concepts and new tools, and to acquire knowledge in using effective tools to foresee problems.'

Management problem solving must be preceded by business goals, Dr Chan said. 'Then, we need to identify where the problems and opportunities are,' he explained.

'Next, we need to measure our present performance and the extent of our problems. We need to analyse our situations and to develop suitable solutions. After selecting suitable solutions, we should do a pilot run before full-scale implementation. To be successful in improving business performance, we need to set preventive measures and make sure changes are successful. Last but not least, we need to control our measures set, in order to achieve sustaining improvement.

'Define (D), Measure (M), Analyse (A), Improve (I), and Control (C), in abbreviation DMAIC, are the typical steps for Six Sigma methodology in problem solving.'

Tony Hui of the China Education Group agreed that a person who previously worked in a non-management position in a company might be able to learn technical skills on-the-job. 'But it is a big challenge for him or her to learn essential management, leadership and motivating skills without attending some related training programmes,' he added.

To help foresee problems, he suggested that managers, 'implement a risk-management mechanism. Assess the risks your company is facing and decide what actions to take that will minimise disruptions'.

For problem solving, Mr Hui said: 'Extract all the facts, then break problems down. Identify the likely causes and consequences of these problems - possibly draw diagrams to understand how these affect each other. Take proactive measures to solve the problems.'

Six Sigma methodology for problem solving