Tracking other people's work.
As manager of an audit practice, I have to not only manage my list of tasks, but also make sure my employees have work and are getting things done in a timely manner. They are often responsible for completing an entire project on their own and I supervise as needed and review the work. My source of stress isn't that I can't remember to buy batteries at the store, but that there are all these various jobs floating around that I am responsible for, yet are not actually doing the work.
Anyone have a similar situation or some suggestions. I know it would be great if everyone at the office used GTD, but that just isn't going to happen.
If they're not doing the work...
I'm a freelancer and if I don't do the work I'm contracted to do, then I don't get paid. If an employee isn't doing their work, then you should explain to them what the consequences are, like getting fired.
Since you're the manager, you have the responsibility to make sure that the work is getting done. Keep a bit better track of the work done (and how long it takes to be done via waiting for lists) and show them the evidence in a monthly, bi-monthly, 6 month or yearly interview. Show them the evidence of how much was expected of them as output, the tasks that were delegated/assigned to them and using your waiting fors and other information, show them they are not meeting the standards that they agreed to by working in that position.
After that just outline the consequences, according to your business culture. -get fired, demoted, re-assigned, reduction in pay, or whatever works for the situation. Just make sure they understand it's a consequence of their own action (or inaction) by showing them the evidence you have gathered, and not because you "don't like" them.
I'm not saying you should just fire someone because of trivial things. People are not expendable like parts in a machine and should never be treated as such. But if you're following the GTD model then you should be flexible enough to allow for both marginal adjustments and more drastic measures.
While I personally believe that fear is by far the worst motivator of all, some people have been trained (by culture, family, history, church, etc.) to only act when motivated by fear (lose their job). If you're willing to invest the time, money, and effort to train that fear out of them then good for you. But if you're not, then maybe a new employee (who doesn't have this problem) would be a better choice.
some people need different kinds of structure from others
Here is a link to executive functions in regard to ADHD but I think it is applicable to work functions in general. I think it speaks to dfferent people needing different kinds of tracking of their work by a manager or supervisor.
There are probably other ways to look at things like this. Interestiingly, some of my most efficient coworkers and reports needed no oversight to meet deadlines and keep up a good volume but the work they did just meet the minimal standards and they could not or would not read articles, go to workshops or emulate models that showed a richer, deeper, or more meaningful quality of work. In fact, they took it as a personal criticism if they were asked to expand on something or consider a new idea. On the other hand, the folks whose work was more creative and done with a eye for incorporating new ideas, creating new formats, de-emphasizing something common place to spot light something new seemed to always have trouble starting, stopping, meeting deadlines. This group often had ideas for working more efficiiently on the mundane stuff but then put a lot of energy into the "extras".
Similar issues in college teaching
If students are in some sense like those being supervised -- and I think they are -- then my job as a college teacher raises similar issues. I have tried, in one senior course where students complete a largely independent project, to require a "weekly review" patterned more or less after the David Allen model. Some students did it, and others just "blew it off." And I also have those who submit work on time but without creativity, and a rare few who procrastinate but then come through with superbly intelligent papers. There is diversity, for sure. Still, I think that the discipline of weekly (or at least regular) review is very helpful. And for students, if an assignment (such as a weekly progress report) counts for points, it's much more likely to be done!