The 21st century business environment isn’t friendly to inefficient or less-than-productive organizations. The economic world doesn’t forgive easily, and profitability is eroding under persistent pressure and unstable marketplaces. This makes it imperative for companies to focus harder than ever before on optimizing their productivity, and effective time management is considered one of the primary ways of doing this.
Discover If (and Why) Your Employees Aren’t ‘Time-Effective’
[quotes]Most business owners have been known to complain at some point about their employees “wasting” time[/quotes] dealing with issues outside of their job purview. This isn’t often done intentionally, however tempting it may be to believe that it is. Reasons for it happening include:
- Company culture, such as an environment of micromanagement instead of one that fosters accountability;
- Lack of incentive, with 32 percent of respondents to a Salary.com survey saying they aren’t motivated to work harder;
- Personal problems, including financial difficulties, relationship issues and private conflicts with other employees; and
- Insufficient training across the board, from teaching management and supervisors how to delegate, to enabling lower level employees to manage their own time effectively.
Identify whether any of these problems are resulting in reduced productivity and impacting your bottom line by getting a professional assessment of your operations, reviewing your business results, and auditing your employees’ compliance with accepted processes.
Solving the Problem
Micromanaging your staff to within an inch of their lives isn’t the answer. Empowering your workers to personally balance their levels of productivity, however, increases their engagement, participation, and effectiveness. [quotesright]It’s also a non-job-specific, transferable skill, [/quotesright] which benefits them throughout their working life, and few individuals can fail to realize the value to their future.
Here are some ways in which you can enable them to improve your profitability by optimizing their time, reducing their impact on the environment, boosting their productivity through motivation and incentives, upskilling themselves and others, and developing a culture of accountability.
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Follow Top Tips
Begin by encouraging your key workers to follow the four top time management tips listed in the best-selling book by Brian Tracy, “Eat that Frog.” These are:
- Clarifying exactly what they want to accomplish before starting the business day.
- Planning the work day in advance by listing everything they want to accomplish, assigning the tasks a level of priority from A to E.
- Beginning by “eating the frog” – handling the least desirable or most difficult task first, to get it out of the way. They will feel more motivated and less inclined to procrastinate by doing so.
- Handling each task with a single touch. This means once they tackle a job, it must be finished completely before moving on. This avoids extra and unnecessary time spent on doing an action, and forces the worker to be prepared and ready to complete the task before starting it.
Tame the Email Monster
Review the amount of time your employees spend handling email and attending meetings, too. These are considered two of the biggest time wasters in any work environment, and because they are essentially work-related, employees often don’t see a way out of doing them.
Introduce the “one touch” principle where emails are concerned, in which each message that comes across a worker’s screen gets handled and completed when it’s viewed, to avoid revisiting the issue. Implement a daily half-hour correspondence period when emails are answered, with a rule that only messages marked high priority are reviewed outside of that time.
This gives your workers the freedom to ignore multiple, non-priority emails, as well as optimizing the time they spend on correspondence.
In the heyday of the Japanese quality circles the idea of stand-up meetings was born, and it has been adopted in multiple industries worldwide since then. The IT and software development industries are particularly committed to the use of what they call the “Scrum” method, but it’s equally effective in any industry.
The idea is to time-box your meetings to between 5 and 15 minutes and deal with a maximum of three questions or issues. The discomfort of standing is designed to keep the meetings brief and prevent participants from going off-topic.
This is just one of the ways you can save on meeting time; whatever method you decide to use if the result is people spending less time away from their work stations, progress is achieved.
Benefits to Your Business
It might sound like pie in the sky, but the benefits of improved productivity are significant to both staff and the company. They include greater profitability and less stress for management and business owners. For employees, the results are clear:
- More free time,
- Better compensation and benefits,
- Opportunities for education and advancement, and
- Greater job satisfaction.
All of these translate into a happier working life.
Enabling your employees to manage their time and improve their productivity isn’t likely to happen by itself, though. Enroll them in a full or half-day workshop or arrange one-to-one training for key personnel, where they can learn how to set and clarify their work goals, establish priorities, recognize and address their reasons for procrastination, develop accountability, and delegate responsibility effectively. The benefits to your business will be enormous.