Checking – Part 1

Introduction

1 These notes (Part 1) define “checking”, list the stages in checking, and discusses the two major processes in checking. The notes list the inevita­ble elements involved in all checking and discuss some important ideas in measurement and the point that some measurement scales appear to offer evaluations when really they just measure something.

2 Next they discuss (a) ‘Why measure something and (b) when to check under the two headings of (i) the possibilities for deciding when and (ii) the factors which Checkers should use to decide when.

3 Finally they discuss who should check and who should receive the check.

4 Part Two of these notes discuss what to check. Then they concentrate on the evaluation part of the checking process and cover standards (meaning, purpose, the need for Subordinates to accept, and when to set them); who should evaluate and the relationship of checking to controlling.

A Definition Of Checking

5 The definition of checking given below probably agrees with the common usage of the word – Checking: The Measurement Of Something And A Comparison Of The Result Of
The Measurement With A Standard

Explanation of Four Words in the Definition

6 The following definitions/explanations refer to the meanings of words as used for this set of notes.

7 Word one: measurement – the assessment of the class, magnitude, or quantity of anything.

8 Examples. I call this thing a page of the notes (assessing the class of something). (b) I rate the page as large (assessing magnitude (= size). (c) I have two pages in my hand (the “two” assesses quantity).

9 Word Two: “Something” – in the definition includes everything.

10 Examples: (a) an activity (have you finished Job “X”?) (b) a characteristic of an object (Have we a red one?) (c) a person (Does he think quickly enough?) (d) and so on.

11 Word Three: result – the state of something at one point of time or for a period of time.

13 A Result may describe something in terms of its:

(a) Class or Unit: I see a doll. Those workers produce motors. If someone buys from me, I call it a sale.

(b) Magnitude: I rate the dolls as very cute. I expect to make a first-class motor. This month I will make many sales.

(c) Quantity: The doll measures three feet high. The factory will produce 100 motors. Sales will reach 6.000-7.000 units.

14 Someone can anticipate results – expect them to occur in the future.

15 Word four: standard – a point, or part of, a scale which someone believes will help evaluate progress toward an objective.

16 Examples. (a) I have the objective of a sand papering the top of the table to gain a smooth finish. I check with my fingers and it seems smoother than last time I checked, I still have to do some more sandpapering but the scale (roughness of surface) and the “point” extent of roughness (compared with last check) pro­vides a useful standard. (b) We must produce 50 Widgets by the end of the day. We set a standard of producing 25 Widgets by lunch time. When we measure the number of Widgets produces at lunch time and compare the result with the standard or 25, we can check whether we have made sufficient progress (sufficient Widg­ets) to achieve our objective of 50 Widgets.

The Stages Of Checking

17 Checking has the following stages:

(a) Decide on what factor (or factors) to evaluate in the “something”  someone aims to check. (This stage of choosing a factor equals choos­ing a measuring scale.)

(b) Identify a standard on the scale chosen.* In some cases the Checker will select a suitable point or band on the scale chosen. In ­other cases someone else will have already chosen a standard and will„ expect the checker to use the standard.

(c) Measure performance.* (This stage provides Data or Findings).

Stages (b) and (c) do not have to occur in the order shown. Checkers can measure performance and then set a standard.

 (d) Compare performance with standard.

(e) Interpret the meaning of the differences, if any. (Conclusions in any report cover the last two subsections.)

18 The next stage does not lie within the meaning of checking as defined but should help the Reader put checking into perspective. It involves -

(f) Determine what to do about the difference and its interpretation.

19 (This last stage rates as a part of planning i.e. setting objectives. In this case, it includes “Do Something” – where the Checker rates the difference between performance and standard as unsatisfactory. The deci­sion of what to do usually means a recommendation or action. It goes beyond the activity of checking and into the activity of controlling.)

20 These notes examine the above stages in more detail below. The diagram on page four should help to show their relationship more clearly.

Two Major Processes In Checking

21 Checking involves two major processes: (a) measuring and (b) evaluat­ing.

22 In practice the measurement and evaluation of something often happens almost simultaneously. It occurs when an Observer measures performance fairly roughly and quickly compares the measurement (by thinking) with a standard based on past experience.

23 Examples. An experienced Observer watching a sportsperson will almost automatically say: “She has a good style” or “He moves well”. An Applicant for a job enters the room and the Interviewer often forms some impressions in the first seconds; (eg. The well­dressed Applicant had a friendly manner but a weak handshake.

24 Some people will find this type of combined measurement and evaluation difficult to separate because both activities seem to occur together. However people should always recognise that the 1N2 different activities do occur.

Measurement Alone Will Not Check Anything

25 Someone may measure something but this action will not ensure checking exists. A check must, involve a comparison of the measurement with a stand­ard.

26 Example. Someone may measure a person’s height, take the temperature of a liquid, or find out last year’s sales of Product “X”. However, unless a standard exists, the Measurer cannot evaluate the meaning of the measurements.  If the police force
only accept people who exceed a certain height, this standard allows a comparison between the measured height of a person and the standard height. However, even if a standard exists, a check will not occur unless someone compares a measurement with a stand­ard.

Inevitable Elements In Checking

27 Checking must involve the following elements: ‘

(a) a scale common to both the performance result and the standard.

(b) a result – the measurement of performance (i.e. a point, or band on a scale).

(c) a standard – a point on, or part (band) of, a scale which someone believes will help evaluate progress toward an objective.

(d) a comparison – of the result with the standard. Measuring Performance

28 Measuring something consists of: (a) identifying a scale – suitable for the something measured and (b) using the scale to actually measure.

29 To understand measuring, Readers should understand the underlying basis of measurement.

30 Readers who have not studied (not just read) the separate cullen morton notes on “introduction to measurement” should study them before reading further. the following section summarises the points in those notes. it only aims to remind readers of the contents of the other notes.

31 Readers who have a thorough grasp of the material on the Introduction to Measurement notes should now turn to paragraph 50.

32 These notes define Measurement as the assessment of the class, magni­tude. or Quantity of anything. Measuring involves comparing something with a scale i.e. anything which contains two or more sections (= units) sometimes arranged in some systematic way.

Types of Scales

33 Four types of scales exist:

(a) Classification – these contain mutually-exclusive sections.

(b) Ordinal – these scales arrange the mutually-exclusive sections in some order.

(c) Interval – these scales equal ordinal scales with the sections having a fixed and known measurement.

(d) Ratio – Interval scales with an absolute zero.

* If Directing also included self directing then the process shown above represents either Managing or Operating as defined in other notes e g. Introduction to Management.

Properties of Scales

34 Scales have various properties:

(a) Identity – all items in the one section (unit) have a common element.

(b) Order – scale sections have a fixed, systematic, and defined sequence or arrangement.

(c) Metric – all sections have a known and constant size.

(d) Absolute Zero – the scale has a nil point at which the variable measured ceases to exist.

35 Other properties of scales exist:

(a) Objective – the units and uses of the scale do not depend on the judgement of an individual person – personal bias cannot play a part in its use. In general, objective scales provide facts.

(b) Subjective – scale units may mean different things to different people. In general, subjective scales provide Opinions.

(c) Number of Units (sections) – a check list gives a two-point scale.

(d) Numerical versus Non-Numerical. Where a scale has numbers (not rank orders) allotted to its units it becomes a numerical or Quantita­tive scale. Scales without numbers belong to the non-numerical or Qualitative class of scales.

Rating and Ranking

36 These notes define rating as any process which measures using a subjec­tive ordinal scale.

37 Many different rating scales exist and they may refer to all sorts of different ideas e.g. management potential, artistic talent, persuasiveness. Their use has many pitfalls and Managers could consider the advantage of obtaining informed advice on their technicalities, even though on the surface, they may appear simple.

38 Common errors in rating involve Central Tendency, Halo Effect, Logical Error, Personal Error, and Leniency.

39 Ranking involves arranging things in order according to some defined characteristic. The things themselves form the points or units of the scale.

40 Rating allows more accuracy and flexibility than Ranking and usually takes less time. Rating may use both External and Internal Criteria. Ranking can only relate to the group of things measured (internal criteria). Ranking offers a useful starting approach where no Rating Scale exists.

41 In general Rating offers more benefits than Ranking. Use Ranking when (a) measuring a few (say less than twelve) things and/or (b) no rating scale exists – in order to construct a rating scale:

Complexity of Scales

42 Many scales exist but their number and complexity increases even more if they include scales which measure input to achieve a particular output (e.g. time to do a particular amount of work (say – type a page).

43 This approach often occurs in connection with people, when the Manag­ers of these people use a scale to measure the productivity of the whole, or part of, an Organisation.

44 Examples. Calls to produce one sale, cost per ten miles of freight carried, scrapped tiles per 1000 produced, value of sales per Sales Representatives, return (profit) on investment (total assets).

45 Some of these output-input scales provide complex measuring devices.

46 Example. Return on investment shows the ratio between the profit (or loss) resulting from a large number of activities of an organ­isation to an input of money. Even though Managers use this scale to evaluate Managers, many people still argue about how to define both “return” and “investment”.

Some Measurement Scales Appear To Equal Evaluations

47 Scales which have evaluative descriptions attached to their points (e.g. good, bad) appear to provide an evaluation. If a scale used numbers instead of good and bad, the evaluation would not appear to occur.

48 The person describing a point as “good” or “excellent” tends to imply a favourable point. These type of descriptions tend to assume (or make) standards and label the points accordingly. The scales tend to put togeth­er the process of measuring and comparing the measurement with a standard. This approach to naming the points on a scale will sometimes stop the users of the scale thinking clearly about the difference between a measurement and an evaluation.

49 People, who evaluate people, should understand the complexity of scales and the importance of assessing their accuracy. They should realise the importance of choosing the right scale and the definite limitations which exist at present for finding scales to measure the performance of Managers with any real accuracy.

Why Check Something

50 People carry out checking in order to consider what to do next.

51 Checks assess progress in relation to some standard*.

52 After evaluation (the final part of a check) tomes the decision to (a’ try to alter a situation or a performance or (b) do nothing.

53 Without checking, no opportunities exist to correct deviations from a planned course of action.

54 Without checking, no possibility of a plan exists at all since one must evaluate one’s present position in order to determine how to get to a future position.

55 Checking must therefore rate as inevitable in any activity – managing included.

When To Check – The Possibilities Continuous And Non-Continuous

56 In deciding when to check, two broad types of checking possibilities exist; continuous and non-continuous checks.

57 Managers usually deal with non-continuous checking because of the expense involved. However with certain processes a mechanical or electri­cal device often carries out the task of continuously measuring performance and comparing it with a standard (e.g. a thermostat).

58 Under the heading of non-continuous checks two broad possibilitie exist: (a) checking at a certain time and (b) checking on the happening of a particular event.

59 Time. Often Managers determine to check on the performance of some­thing at a specified future time. Sometimes they agree on this time before the Subordinates start the job. Sometimes Managers do not seek an agreed time so that the Subordinates do not know when to expect a check.

60 A less-definite approach to the problem of checking at certain times occurs where Supervisors suddenly say to themselves: “I have not checked on for a long time”. Then they decide to carry out a check fairly soon. Perhaps this approach should come under the next sub-heading of “event”. Some happening in a Manager’s environment probably triggers off the thought about a particular job. The Manager decides he/she has insuf­ficient information about its progress.

61 Event. The other main, non-continuous-check type of check occurs when a particular event takes place. This check can occur at the end of a specified stage of the job or of the whole job or on the receipt of a communication concerning the job. Such a communication might consist of a complaint by a third person.

* A standard plus the intention to try to achieve or reach the standarr’ equals an objective. Thus objectives always provide a standard whic someone can use in checking.

62 Examples. The user of an article might complain – directly to the Manager or through a Subordinate. The Manager might receive a complaining letter or a particular report showing the results of some aspect of the activity.

63 The event would include a situation where the Manager moves close to the job and finds it convenient to look at the job.

64 Sometimes the event amounts to – Subordinates ask for the assistance of their Manager who checks on the performance at the same time.

65 Where a convenient place to take a measurement exists and a standard for the activity up to that point exists (or the Manager can easily obtain such a standard) a Manager will often choose that particular stage or event as a check point.

66 Example. Someone sets a limit for the expenditure of money on a certain project (a budget expense item). When this money runs out (or nearly runs out before the finish of the job) this point provides a convenient stage for Subordinates to bring information regarding a check to their Manager. The Manager has a convenient check point to use.

67 Summary. Sometimes Managers choose the time to check: sometimes they check because of the actions of a Subordinate or a third party.

68 The following diagram summarises the when-to-check possibilities.

When To Check – Factors Involved

69 The above points show the range of possibilities for checking. But they do not indicate when to check or which check a person should choose. While no firm rules exist, some factors will help Managers decide when to increase, or decrease, a given checking frequency. The following para­graphs examine these factors.

Cost Of (a) Checking (b) The Error

70 Two aspects of the cost of checking exist: (a) the cost of the actual measurement and evaluation of something and (b) the cost of any errors or inefficiencies that occur because no-one checked.

71 Example. If the whole job costs $200 to carry out and can only lose $100 if checked poorly then at the very most, no-one should spend $400 on checking.

72 However, in practice, people carrying out checking will not necessarily know the checking cost and/or the cost of an error.

Probability of Error Occurring

73 The probability of an error taking place should affect when and how often to check. The higher the probability that errors will occur, the sooner should the first check occur and the greater the frequency of check­ing.

74 Example: Consider a job which occurs a hundred times where checking during a job costs $2 for each check and the cost of errors equals $100. If a high probability of making an error exists (say one out of every ten), someone should carry out a regular check. This point assumes that such a check would avoid the $100 error.

Effect of a Check on The Probability of Error Occurring

75 Checkers should consider the effect a check will have on the probabili­ty that an error will occur.

76 If checks will have a high probability of reducing errors then they rate was worth doing – assuming that the cost of the error exceeds the cost of checking. In this case the checks should occur frequently.

77 In general, anyone checking should believe that (a) some chance of error exists, (b) the error cost definitely exceeds the cost of the check­ing, and (c) a check will affect whether an error will occur.

78 Summary. Managers should consider: (a) the cost of checking which they plan to use. (b) the likely costs of the type of errors which might occur if they did not make checks’ (c) the probability of such errors occurring. and (d) whether checking will stop errors occurring.

79 However will a check’s effectiveness vary over the duration of the job? Probably situations exist where the first one or two checks will affect error rate but later checks will have little or no effect.

80 The interaction between the tour factors in when to check may seem complex. However Managers use the complicated interactions quite often during their daily work, without realising it.

81 Example. A Manager may say to herself “If Joe spoils the job then it will cost us quite a bit of money.” (Likely Cost of  Error) “Although Joe seems pretty reliable and he has done the job before, he has a definite chance of spoiling it.” (Probabili­ty of Error Occurring) “It won’t take me long to just keep an eye on him and make sure that he goes in the right direction.” (Cost  of Checking). “If I check on Joe, it will reduce Joe’s chances of  making an error”.

82 Most Managers identify the factors concerned and do compare them, but rarely do they know how much importance to give the factors or their costs or the probability of something going wrong. Often it costs so much to quantify these factors that Managers decide they should just use their experience. However where the money lost exceeds the cost of identifying the factors, people will gain by spending time on the problem. But, Manag­ers who do not know the basic parts of the checking process probably will not identify the factors mentioned above.

Does Checking With Have Wider Effects

83 While checking will save significant costs if it avoids expensive errors, some checking will affect other things besides its effect on er­rors. Some checking will so annoy the person checked that the person works much less hard overall. A later section explores a situation where a Subordinate objects to checking.

Additional Factors which should affect when to Check

84 Complexity of the Job. The more complex the job the more frequently should checks occur. But with more complex jobs, probably more skilled persons will do them. Thus this factor should always consider the Subordi­nates’s skill. However within the range of jobs of any particular person the idea provides a useful factor for deciding the frequency of checking.

85 Stage of the Overall Job. In most jobs Managers should check more frequently at the early stage of the job compared with later stages. The early-stage checking really checks on the success of the directions. Communication Receivers may have “fed back” the direction (instructions) in a manner which leads a Manager to believe that the Receivers have under­stood (i.e. Managers have achieved a “successful” communication). However the Subordinates (when they actually tackle the job) may realise that they do not understand certain aspects of the job. Many Subordinates will not check back with their Manager in these situations.

86 Unless Managers make an early check often they will find the Subordi­nates will have wasted much of the work done – up to the time of the first check.

87 Time since the last check. If other thingi equal each other, the greater the period of time since the last check, the greater the probabili— ty that the time has arrived for another check. (This point assumes that during the elapsed time someone has worked on the job.)

88 Results of previous checks. The results of previous checks indicate the ability of the Subordinates involved and their understanding of the instructions.

89 Example. A Manager may plan to check (say) every two hours. However, if the previous two checks show that the Subordinate has experienced some difficulties, the Manager should increase the frequency of the checks.

90 Experience/Ability of the Manager. Where Managers know little about the job, they may carry out more frequent checking to teach themselves something more about the job. In this case they observe the job to gain knowledge rather than check a Subordinate’s performance. However since this approach would come under the category of “a convenient time to check” most Managers probably would not just observe the job – they would automat­ically do some (rough) checking.

91 Experience of the Manager with the Job. Probably a Manager should check more frequently when the Manager has no experience of the job.

92  A similar situation occurs with unusual jobs – their very rareness means they rate as almost new each time someone attempts them.

93 Managers should realise that where they know little about a job, such situations may encourage them to put less, or the incorrect amount of, confidence in a Subordinate’s ability to do the job.

94 Effectiveness of Directing. Managers who realise that they have given hurried directions or poor job instruction should check (probably) immedi­ately to correct any errors. If they realise that they have failed to obtain communication feedback i.e. check whether the person really under­stood their directions then they should also check quickly.

95 Problems with similar Jobs and similar people. Managers who see cer­tain similarities in jobs and/or people will have better evidence on which to decide the desirable frequency of a check. More inexperienced Managers may believe they should check frequently on a particular job because it looks complicated. If they had more experience they might realise that its apparent difficulty does not equal its real, difficulty.

96 The same point applies to the type of person involved. Even though the person concerned might pot know the job, the Managers’ experience teaches them that with this particular type of Employee (and job) they will not need to check very often.

97 Perhaps this approach equals considering the Manager’s ability but it does provide a specific factor which a Manager can use as a basis for decision making.

98 Motivation of the Subordinate. Where Managers. know that a Subordinate does not agree with their direction or accepts the objective in a lukewarm way, probably the Managers should check more frequently.

99 In spite of good intentions most people find it difficult to carry out an activity in which they do not believe.

100 Ability of the Subordinate. The greater the Subordinate’s ability the less a Manager should check. The word “ability” covers a number of other factors such as: (a) the Subordinate’s experience in doing the job or a similar job, (b) capacity to do the job, (c) conscientiousness of the Subordinate, (d) the amount of confidence the Subordinate inspires in the Manager.

101 Managers should identify whether they have delegated work to an experi­enced or inexperienced person in the job and should check more frequently on inexperienced Subordinates.

102 This ability factor interacts with the probability of a mistake occur­ring. The greater the ability of the Subordinate, the less the chance of making an error and the less need for checking.

103 Experience in the iob. Experience in relation to the job relates both to the Manager and the Subordinate concerned with the job.

104 The Subordinate’s experience with the job should influence the amount of checking that a Manager should carry out (mentioned above).

105 Objection by a Subordinate To Checking. Some people get annoyed if others check their work. Some see it as showing a lack of trust by their Manager. Some object, but over-estimate their understanding of what to do and/or their ability to do the job without help.

106 Some like to have contact with their Manager. Some see a check as allowing them to gain support from (or possibly lean on) their Manager. Some people seek support even though they do not really need it.

107 Where Managers do 1321 know much about the job and their Subordinates do, sometimes Subordinates will feel annoyed by the frequency of the check­ing. The Subordinates may not realise their Manager’s action really amounts to checking on the Managers themselves rather than checking on their Subordinates.

108 Where Managers know little about a job they should find out if their Subordinates do have extensive knowledge (or believe that they do). In such cases Managers should point out to the Subordinates that they check the process freauently, not because of the Subordinate, but because they want to learn more about the process.

109 Once Subordinates realise that (a) the appearance of the Manager and/or (b) the frequent reports aim to instruct the Manager (rather than check on the Subordinates), probably the Subordinates will accept such a situation without feeling annoyed.

110 From ONE viewpoint, Managers should check less, the greater the objec­tion of a Subordinate to receiving a check.

111 From a different viewpoint, Managers should ignore the fact that a Subordinate objects to having a Manager check on a.particular job they have to do in this case, they should check more.

112 But a third view also exists. Sometimes a Subordinate will object to a check so that they “frighten” the Checker away and then they can have a free hand to operate in their own way – possibly loosely. In such a case, a Manager night decide (wisely) to check more often.

113 In using this factor Mangers should balance the chance of upsetting a Subordinate, the possibility that the Subordinate aims to frighten them into checking less, the probability of an error occurring, and the cost of the error.

114 Sometimes some Subordinates will feel less annoyed by a check if a Manager points out why they feel they have to check – “If something goes wrong it will cost thousands of dollars.”

115 Where Subordinates object to checking, Managers should seek ways to check without appearing to check.

116 Examples. (a) A Manager may visit a toilet and the route takes them past the person on who they want to check. Thus they can observe as they walk past. (b) A Manager may find a reason to visit some other person who works close to the person on whom they want to check. (c) Some jobs allow a Manage to check par­tially by listening – has the machine stopped operating?

117 However if the Subordinate suspects that the Manager has used such ai approach, it may make a poor situation even worse.

118 The following table provides a summary of the factors to use to help decide when to check.

Diagram – The Frequency Of Checking

119 The following list summarises the factors discussed in the previous section. Managers should not see the list as consisting of mutually exclu­sive factors. A Manager should use a combination of factors to decide when to check.

121 An objection to having the work checked. The above list does not include the factor of objection to checking by a Subordinate. The para­graphs discussing this factor pointed out that it proves difficult to offer a rule as to whether objection to a check should encourage or discourage checking.

General

122 The above section includes a lengthy list of the factors that Manag­ers should consider before they decide how frequently they will check something.

123 The time a Manager should spend on considering these factors depends on the size of the factors mentioned. However Managers probably forget these factors in their day-to-day managing. Thus Managers will spend too much money on checking or too little – without thinking about what they do.

124 Sometimes Managers spend too much time on deciding when they should make checking decisions (or have someone else make them). However, more often, people make checking decisions on the basis of past experienc, without any conscious thought about the matter.

125 In many cases Managers do not know the factors they use when making their decision on when to check. An identification of the factors together with a selection of their correct importance should help to make better decisions and obtain improved checking.

Who should do the checking?

Non personal devices

126 A Person or a non-personal device may check something. A wide variety of non-personal checking devices exist. Some measure performance, others both measure and evaluate. Some devices require a person to record the measurement, others actually record the measurement.

127 Examples. A thermometer standing in a liquid measures the liquid’s temperature. A person may read the measurement and record it. Alternately a more elaborate device will regularly, or continuously, record the temperature on a sheet of paper. With still more equipment the device might ring a bell to announce the temperature has reached a particular (undesirable) point.

128 A whistling kettle “announces” the reaching of a particular temperature – it measures whether the temperature has, or has not, reached boiling point. A Computer provides an example of a non-personal check. It can check – as well as control – depending on what the program used by the computer specifies.

129 A thermostat has an in-built temperature measuring device and a method of comparing the temperature with a standard (a check) plus a device to start or stop the heating/cooling apparatus (a controlling device).

Checking by People

130 Checking by people contains three main groups: Managers, their Subor­dinates, and other people.

131 A Manager can check in many ways. The following possibilities exist -

(a) Observe something;

(b) Rely on a Subordinate to check and tell the Manager if the result shows a deviation from the plan. (In this case the frequency of the check should depend on the Subordinate’s ability.); or

(c) Use a specified-event type of check where the event involves some action by the Subordinate

(d) Use another person to do the checking rather than a device

(e) Use a Subordinate to check on the progress of a particular job ­even though the particular Subordinate has no part in carrying out the job (eg. a Staff Assistant).

132 Senior-level Managers have some people who they employ primarily as checkers.

133 Example. The internal audit staff check on the accuracy of accounting. Sometimes the audit staff check on much wider aspects of Management, e.g. whether the people have carried out the var­ious procedures of the Organisation. Sometimes Managers employ outside bodies (Auditors, Consultants) to audit some aspects of an Organisation or one of its parts.

134 The use of third parties often occurs. It varies from a highly orga­nised operation (using specialised people) to the very simple – and vague; “On your way to the plant, check on X’s progress and let me know.”

135 The appropriate person to use will vary with the type of job and the overall circumstances. Sometimes it will prove less expensive to use another Subordinate. However this approach may do harm. People checked that way say believe their Manager has no interest in them and/or the job. An approach which may prove correct in a narrow sense may rate as incor­rect from a broader viewpoint.

136 Sometimes Managers will check themselves – just to indicate their interest in the particular job or a particular person or section of the Organisation. The check may rate as rather incidental to the real aim of increasing the Managers’s personal contact with the person or the section concerned.

137 Where vague standards exist and/or difficulty exists in measuring performance sometimes Managers will need to check by personal observation.

138 In important jobs or where checking costs only a small amount, Manag­ers may find it desirable to use two people to check or to use two sources of checking – one personal and one impersonal. If two people cost less than one Manager checking this approach will prove economical.

Who should initiate the checking contact?

139 Either Managers or Subordinates can initiate a checking contact. Managers who trust their Subordinates’ judgement and ability to know what they need to check will probably let their Subordinates initiate more checks than in different circumstances.

Encouraging Subordinates to check their own Performance

140 Managers will find it easier to manage well if Subordinates check on themselves. Thus, when reporting performance (either orally or in writing), Managers should arrange situations so that Subordinates measure and evalu­ate their own performance.

141 Probably Managers should encourage Subordinates to say automatically what action should occur as a result of the evaluation.

142 In written reports, some forms provide a section which the Form User has to complete and the form also states a standard. This approach auto­matically ensures that Users check their own performance.

143 Example Many accounting reports have a column for plan (a standard), one for actual (performance), and one for the differ­ence (comparison). Often they add a plus or minus to the differ­ence to evaluate the difference. Plus may mean favourable, minus may mean unfavorable.

144 Sometimes forms contain a section which asks Completers to enter the action they intend to take as a result of the evaluation.

145 Example. A Subordinate reports an accident. The accident-report form requires an evaluation of some aspects of the accident and the Subordinates must complete a section which states the action they plan to take to avoid such an accident in the future.

146 In oral discussions of performance, wise Managers will encourage Subordinates to check (evaluate) their own performance and suggest ways to improve it.

Who should checkers check?

147 Managers may check with a number of classes of people: Subordinates, Users of a Subordinate’s work, Colleagues of Subordinates, or the Subordi­nates of immediate Subordinates.

148 Usually Checkers (eg. Managers) will check the person actually carry­ing out the work but this point depends on the subject matter of the check.

149 Managers may want to check on their Subordinates’ managing ability and may wish to look at what activities the Subordinates’ staff carry out. Managers may find it more useful to observe what the Subordinate’s staff do rather than ask the Subordinate. However Subordinates may perceive this approach as “bypassing” them and they may feel the approach undermines their position authority and status.

150 Similarly, if Managers use a Subordinate’s colleagues to obtain information, this approach may upset the Subordinates. They may perceive the act as casting a slur on their ability and/or lowering their status in the eyes of their Colleagues.

151 A similar problem can occur if Managers obtain information from the User of their Subordinates’ work. Probably Managers should not ask a Customer to evaluate the work of Sales Representatives. However Managers often ask Trainees for opinions of the work of a Trainer. This check appears acceptable to most people.

152 Managers should realise they have a number of sources of information relevant to their checking. They will usually check directly with their particular Subordinates. However, in spite of the disadvantages, occasions exist when it will prove useful to use other people. Sometimes other people provide more accurate information.

Where should the checking take place?

153 The place where the checking should take place may not rate as very important to the actual checking process. Sometimes a person’s work deals with thinking or paper work and the person and the paper can easily move. In these situations it probably does not matter whether Managers check in their own office or in their Subordinates’ office. However other persona] aspects may play an important part: the decision on where to check might–depend more on factors outside the checking process. Managers might be­lieve that they can increase their Subordinates’ morale and motivation to work hard if Managers go to the Subordinates’ office. These notes do not  aim to examine these aspects.

154 Where the Manager and the Subordinate work some distance apart, the Manager should consider the cost of transporting either or both to a par­ticular place.

155 Some activities occur which someone can only measure at the point where the activity takes place. In such cases, if Managers wish to observe or check personally, they will have to go to the activity’s location.

Conclusion

156 These notes look at a basic activity of managing – checking – which often receives little attention.

157 If a check shows – everything on course, then few people will gain much satisfaction from checking.

158 Checking fits into the class of insurance – It offers an uninteresting element which costs a significant amount of money and, if not required, gets little attention or praise for having it. But when (eg.) a fire oc­curs, the insurance proves very important. However people will not tend to praise the person who took out the insurance, but certainly they will criticise strongly if insurance does not exist.

159 The same points apply to checking: if Managers do not check and some­thing goes wrong then they have managed poorly. If they do check and have to do nothing, few people even know. If they check and have to change their plans then observers will tend to say that they have only done what they should do and they do not deserve any special praise.

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