Here’s a question all AV companies need to ask: How do we handle resource management inside our organizations?


Resource management is such an important issue, it invariably leads to other questions: How do we manage

the utilization of our resources effectively? How do we set objectives that our people can meet? How do we motivate and incentivize people to meet those objectives? How do we set up clear and definable metrics?


There are three steps:

  1. The first step in effectively managing resources is alignment — establishing and communicating to our people the organization’s big picture (its vision and mission). This allows employees to better appreciate the importance of what they’re working on and to understand the direct correlation between their job functions and the value that the company is generating (and hopefully measuring).
  2. The second step is to create processes inside the organization through which people have meaningful work to do. “Meaningful” means that they can see how what they’re doing positively contributes to the vision/mission and value of the company and they are being measured based on that contribution.
  3. The third step is to give employees the opportunity to improve how they do the work they do through continuous process improvement. They also need an opportunity to improve themselves through heightened competence, cross-training, leadership and management opportunities, etc.


I find that most people are incredibly creative, yet a lot of us expend our creativity trying to work around the processes that are put in place for us, rather than systematically understanding, measuring and improving those processes.


Leaders in a mature organization need to channel that creativity toward creating value, allowing their human resources to see the link between their actions and the company’s value, and then rewarding people for creating and using processes that enhance their own and other’s productivity and performance.


In many organizations, we’ve begun to treat people like machines

Workers are often cogs in an undefined set of wheels and gears. What they work on has lost its purpose — it doesn’t seem to have any value — and when that happens, their work turns into just a job. Their brain (and motivation) checks out — their job is just a paycheck with no meaning. That’s a sad commentary, but it stems from the lack of a holistic and communicated view of a company’s strategic portfolio, beginning with the answers every individual should be seeking, “Why am I here and what value am I adding?”


Resource management through alignment

A mature organization effectively manages its resources through the alignment of a visible portfolio of operations and projects; linked with measured, value-added processes; combined with people who know why, how and where they make a difference.


Leaders in a mature organization establish a priority system for its work that demonstrates the generation of value toward its strategy. Managers are responsible for the competence, allocation, assignment and utilization of resources that are working on the projects or within the operations (procurement, finance, accounting, administration, service, etc.). They have to align their resource allocation and their resource utilization based on the company’s visible and communicated portfolio of work to be accomplished. They also have to be held accountable for managing work processes and creating better ways for people do work that adds value to projects and operations, which ultimately adds value to the company.


In projects, people are often the key resource (although some may still argue it’s the equipment). Projects usually create something new, or they create something different than before. It takes a lot of mental horsepower and often physical labor to do a project well. Therefore the human resource is the most valuable resource on a project; and it should be treated as such.


Company leaders typically go awry in managing resources when they don’t align the assignment of people to the purpose for which they’re there. They also tend to overuse their key people. It goes something like this:

“You’re really good at doing X, so we’re also going to make you do Y, because you ought to be good at that, too. So you get to keep doing X while you also do Y, and oh-by-the-way, we just hired Joey — take care of him, too, and teach him how to do some of X in your spare time.”



Now, of course, that employee has no spare time. This is very much a North American phenomenon: We take our best people and give them more roles, more problems to solve in a reactive fashion. I’ve noticed that many other cultures grow their people very differently. They don’t assume that because one person is very good — technically or functionally — that he or she will be a good manager or someone who can take on new things and do them well.


When we create too many roles for our people, they will become overwhelmed

People can’t focus on what they’re doing when they have too much responsibility on their plate, because they keep thinking about all the other tasks they should be doing. And because they’re very good at what they do, other people constantly ask them to do more. Often, these are also the people who see opportunities for company-wide improvement, but when they bring up an option, they’re told, “Great idea, why don’t you make that happen?” So they stop making suggestions because it just creates more work for themselves.


This kind of resource problem can be traced back to a lack of portfolio management and/or systematic prioritization. It also reflects a breakdown in process management when there is no standard way of performing tasks or training others to perform those tasks.



Without these types of controls, everything becomes important, which means nothing is important. And when everything must be done right now, and by any means necessary, it usually means throwing out the standardized process. That’s no way to manage your most important resources.

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