Attain Goals By Using Time Wisely

Equally important as managing your own time is managing the time of others to gain maximum productivity from their efforts. This is true whether your organization provides services or products, or both. Techniques you can use to improve productivity include these: • Reduce the time now required for obtaining supplies or information needed to get the job done. • Improve the pattern of work flow to lessen duplications. • Reduce the error rate to avoid reworks. • Set up a schedule to reduce or eliminate down time. • Eliminate non-value added work. • Increase productivity through better motivation. • Improve the rate of promptness, attendance, and retention. • Increase team member output with additional development.

Wise use of time helps attain the goals of the work group in an effective and efficient manner through planning, organizing, leading, and monitoring the team members’ activities. Successfully controlling time reduces frustration, contributes a sense of direction, and brings you and your team to the end of the day with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

Managing the Time of Others

The benefits of training the members of your work group to manage their time to achieve results are unlimited. Being a role model for effective time use is the first step. In addition to your setting the example, use these strategies to improve the productivity of your team members:

  • Make sure all team members understand the goals of each project. Discuss the nature of the work and the time and skills needed to complete the job promptly with world-class quality. Breaking down the job into tasks and identifying the resources needed to complete the tasks help everyone to understand what will be required of each individual and of the group as a whole. Use this shared goals approach to engage the team members’ hearts and minds as well as their bodies.
  • Set target dates based on how much time is needed to complete each job. To evaluate the time cost of every task, ask a competent and experienced team member for an estimate, or use a manual of established work standards if one is available. Another method to determine the time cost of a task is to decide how long the job would take you and then increase the time appropriately for a team member with less experience and knowledge than you have. Also include an adequate buffer for unforeseeable obstacles. Effective teamwork does not ignore difficulties; it plans and works through them. Determine the level of excellence appropriate to a particular job and allow only the amount of time required to reach it. On the surface, it may seem desirable for 100 percent of the work to be 100 percent perfect. If this can be done in a reasonable length of time, it is worth the effort. On the other hand, a small percentage of rejects, reworks, or corrections may be tolerated in return for a significant savings in time. In certain organizations, especially those where “zero defects” is the only acceptable standard, this concept must be applied with discretion. The combined effect of resources used (time spent and material used) and end product or results is the key to setting standards and scheduling time allowances.
  • Train everyone on your team to use a daily time plan. Review with your work group what must be done to meet organizational requirements. Invest some time in helping all the team members learn to set priorities for controlling their own daily activities. Teaching your team members this skill enables them to monitor their own work and take corrective action when needed. Consider taking a few minutes at the close of the day to discuss with key team members the priorities for the next day. Your work may also lend itself to a discussion once a week for this purpose. You will find that it is time well invested.
  • Respect and protect the time of others. Many managers complain of frequent interruptions for unnecessary questions. Some of these same individuals, however, fail to recognize that they are also guilty of wasting the time of workers by unnecessary interruptions and other poor management methods.

Respect the time of others. When you assign or delegate work, give clear and complete instructions. Once you are certain the person knows what to do and how to do it, answer any questions, and then step back and allow that individual to do the work. Prearrange appropriate checkpoints and limit inspection of the work to those points.

Many people find it helpful for team members and colleagues to agree upon a specific period once or twice during the day when telephone calls or brief conversations are expected. Everyone cooperates to fit necessary discussion into these periods. This system prevents chopping up time into disorganized bits and pieces and leaves larger blocks of time for planning or uninterrupted work.

Leadership Management® Institute
Reprinted with permission
Strategic Essentials is a Managing Partner for Leadership Management® International, Inc.

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