Everyone has difficulty managing time effectively at one point or another in their work life. Most of us can benefit from learning how to plan our time and tasks better. Some studies have shown that staff members can free up as much as 20 per cent of their week.
All staff needs to do is exercise more discipline in managing their time. The following are six concrete steps managers can take to help employees struggling with time management.
1. Identify the Source of the Problem and Minimize it
At times employees can get caught up in the fine-tuning of low-level tasks. And at times, they get tied up by the sheer volume of the task. Teaching staff how to start to manage their time by breaking down tasks into small and manageable pieces is essential to learning time management. Managers need to help their staff cover the issue that creates a time management challenge.
This identification can be done by having overloaded staff members fill out a time log for a week and then assess the assignment of their time and see how it matches with task priorities. Doing this should help employees know where they are getting derailed and will help in using effective strategies to catch up with their tasks. This is a helpful tool that will help focus their thoughts and teach them how to improve going forward.
Time management challenges can also be identified by having conversations with employees to assess the cause of their time management issues. For example, if an employee complains that they don’t have enough time to complete work and feel burned out, offer support and walk them through their tasks. This should be done to help the staff member understand which tasks are a higher priority and where they should focus on their efforts.
Help staff minimizes their daily distractions. This can be done by identifying disruptions like white noise levels, inefficient workspace configurations, other disruptions like unnecessary meetings, or dual reporting. The goal should be to help staff members minimize these. A practical solution is to offer better seating locations or reduce meeting attendance so that employees have the time freed up to work on larger, more complex projects from home.
2. Keep Priorities and Expectations Clear
One of the best ways to ensure staff members meet their task deliverables on time is by clearly communicating what management expects from the team. This should be repeated as often as necessary to ensure that team members know which tasks are essential, on a high priority, and cannot be put aside.
This can be done by using clear and direct language. It is an excellent choice to implement project scheduling to communicate goals, due dates, priorities, and accountability for assignments in writing and without ambiguity.
For new team members, it is helpful to go over workplace culture during the onboarding process. It is important to stress that time management is critical, and employees are expected to perform tasks on time.
3. Offer a Helping Hand
Some employees do not need help to realize that they have issues with time management and need help with it. Many others must be shown that they lack time management parameters. In both cases, as a manager, it is a good policy to offer help and support to employees who are struggling with meeting task deadlines or are juggling multiple tasks.
It is usually quite adequate to check in periodically with employees and just ask them how you can help them. As a manager, you know your team’s capability better, and in the case of larger projects, place employees in small teams to let them divide an enormous task into smaller, more manageable tasks. In addition, if assigning tasks to team members, it is better to have a frequent brainstorming session to assess task progress and help keep staff on track to achieve task milestones on time.
4. Model Time Management for Employees
Most staff take their cues from their superiors and team leader. Staff will automatically model this behaviour if a manager is arriving for meetings on time and accomplishing tasks on or within assigned time frames.
It is a simple case of walking the walk and talking the talk. Once employees see that you and other managers practice what is being preached, they try to deliver on time. In case of an employee that experienced a genuine time management challenge, they can be coached to make necessary changes in their behaviour
5. Teach New Techniques
An excellent way to help employees apply better time management at work is to teach them how. Practical time management training includes tips on effectively managing resources and techniques for keeping everything organized. Training in these three areas will improve the effectiveness of time management:
Planning and prioritizing:
Learning how to assess the time needed for performing essential tasks helps employees (and managers) know how a work day will play out. Prioritizing tasks also helps employees avoid needing to catch up on delayed essential deliverables.
It is crucial to organize time and the workspace we work in. A disorganized or overcrowded workspace can cause time delays as employees look around for lost or misplaced items like files or documents, resulting in a delayed deadline or late arrival to a meeting.
Training that tries to improve communication skills teaches employees how and when to give updates on the progress of their work.
6. Recognize and Appreciate Improvements
Positive reinforcement and appreciation allow employees to understand when they are meeting workplace expectations by managing their time effectively. Managers can recognize employees who manage time effectively in one-on-one discussions and meetings. Continuous reinforcement of what employees are doing right will inspire them to sustain their efforts and make more improvements.
Time management can be more challenging for some people, but it is a fundamental skill for every industry, department, and role. There are multiple ways to help employees who are challenged with time management. These include more transparent communications of expectations, coaching and skills training, and reinforcing positive behaviour when they learn and apply skills. Effective time management results in less burnout improved productivity, and an organization full of teams and individuals who deliver on time.
Sadia Zaheer holds a Masters in Business Administration from IBA, Karachi. After working in several financial institutions in Client Management, Corporate Lending, Islamic Banking and Product Management she jumped careers to pursue a career in writing.
She is a Finance, Business and HR Development writer with four years of experience. She reads a lot and takes care of her multiple cats to remain calm.