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Become A TASC Plus Master
by Dr. Beverly Potter
Copyright material: See notice at the bottom

The best managers are those who function as trainers. They are not just bosses who assign tasks or just managers who oversee work; they teach people to be good performers. Like sports coaches, the best managers develop the potential within their people, creating an invaluable product for the company - trained, motivated people.

Managing people's work requires sophisticated skills. Training in these skills, especially among lower level manager is scare. TASC Plus is an acronym that stands for a simple but effective managing process that incorporates the four essential ingredients for quality performance: goals, feedback, participation, and acknowledgment.

    TASC Plus

T = Tell how performance
     compares to expectations
A = Ask
for suggestions 

S = Set objectives 

C = Check on progress 

Plus = Acknowledge
on-TASC performance.

Tell the employee your expectation which is usually meeting a particular standard, and how his or her performance compares to it. A standard is the performance goal or target that describes the specific output that the worker is responsible for producing.

    A good standard:
      Describes output
      Is specific
      Is achievable
      Is observable
      Is measurable
The Ask step elicits the participation of the employee. Here the manager places the problem in the lap of the employee who is the only one who can improve his or her performance. Most people know what the problem is and have ideas for solutions. Avoid thinking of a solution, instead guide employees in developing their own solutions. Instead of being a disciplinarian, the manager is a teacher, facilitator, and coach, which allows employees more responsibility and personal power.
    Use open-ended questions
    Avoid leading questions
    Ask for information and suggestions
Set An Objective
When manager and employee have clarified what is expected, what is impeding performance, and what actions might facilitate it, they move to the objective setting stage. The employee should set the objective. The manager guides the process, mostly by asking questions.
    Move in small steps
    Be specific about the outcome to be achieved
    Work on one thing at a time.
Check On Progress
Periodically check on how the employee is doing. Now the manager is in the role of facilitator and monitoring progress towards accomplishing the objective.

Plus stands for acknowledging progress towards the objective. Look for and comment on what the employee has done right, no matter how small. Simultaneously ignore small dips in performance. Just glow on the progress. When you must comment negatively on performance, use the TASC Plus model.

Benefit of TASC
Plus TASK Plus provides a way to prompt participation as well as give feedback and acknowledgment. Substandard performance need not be criticized; instead, it can be used as an opportunity to use TASK Plus to motivate by eliciting participation in solving the problem and focusing on constructive solutions.

The TASK Plus approach allows employees to maximize their personal power and harness that power in the service of organizational goals. It provides managers with a road map of what to do and how to do it. In the process the manager's role is changed to one of teacher. Employees learn to set task goals and to participate in goal-setting for their own jobs and often in the definition and direction of the job itself.

Organizations and the people in them are continually changing. TASC Plus provides a mechanism for ongoing change. Through the negotiation process expectations and directions can be modified and shaped in response to the demands of the organization and the needs of the individual.

TASC Plus provides an objective basis for raises, promotions, and other organizational acknowledgment. And it takes the yearly performance review out of the manager's office and into the daily work routine. Expectations on all sides are clarified and people know how they are evaluated and what those evaluations are. Most importantly, TASC Plus maximizes individual responsibility and dignity.

For how to supervisory information, see Turning Around: Keys To Motivation And Productivity

Copyright 1999, 2005: Beverly Potter. Taken from Overcoming Job Burnout: How To Renew Enthusiasm For Work by Dr. Beverly Potter, Ronin Publishing. All rights reserved.

This article can be downloaded for personal use. Any other use requires written permission from Beverly Potter. POBox 3008, Oakland, CA 94609Fax 510/420-3672

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