Despite their expertise and work experience, employees often still struggle to master an important but often overlooked skill – time management. As such, they’re constantly lagging behind in their work, leaving tasks undone, or struggling to make decisions. Not surprisingly, being unproductive leaves an employee stressed, tired, and even overwhelmed. But as a manager, is there something you can do to help? Actually, there are plenty of ways that you can instill sound time management practices in your employees. Here are a few of them.
You can’t solve a problem without knowing if it exists. So before doing anything else, evaluate your employees’ performance to identify problem areas. Ask yourself: Are employees failing to complete their tasks on time? Are they also stressed, unmotivated, or burnt out? Also, is chronic absenteeism becoming commonplace at your workplace?
Once you discover that poor time management does exist in your workplace, find out why. Could your employees be procrastinating? Or, are they wasting time browsing on social media or shopping websites? Sometimes, however, the blame lies with poor management.
Employees could be spending too much time in meetings or writing reports, leaving them little time to do actual work. Or, their workload could be too much for one person to handle, and it should be delegated to more employees. Whatever the problem might be, once you identify it, you can now tackle it.
You should also regularly evaluate your workers and ongoing processes to see if adjustments could be made. You should keep open lines of communication with your employees and talk to them about their assignments on a regular basis. Not only will it help you evaluate their work, but you could also use their insight on how some processes could be improved to facilitate their work.
The first problem is also the most prevalent – distractions. In today’s open-plan offices, which afford little privacy, staying focused is difficult for even the most attentive employee. Add to that the many distractions on the internet and you can see why employees find it hard to focus on their work. While there’s little you can do about how your office is configured, you can block certain websites. You can also clamp down on the excessive use of mobile devices around the office and especially in meetings.
But even without distractions, employees won’t get much done without timely goals. However, goal setting is a trait that they must learn first before they can apply it. So, depending on a task’s duration, encourage your staff to set a daily, weekly, or monthly timeline for it. Also, see to it that they break down the task into more manageable segments.
Setting up timelines sounds easy, but it isn’t. For that reason, your employees sometimes need help doing so. And here’s where project management software comes in. Using it, team leaders can visually plan and plot each team member’s workflow, including reports and delivery times. Better still, they can make adjustments whenever necessary.
Project management software simply streamlines workflow. It can’t teach employees how to prioritize the more important or urgent tasks, thus maximizing productivity. Only you can do that, but only to an extent. Ultimately, each member of staff must decide which task to complete first. So besides notifying and helping them on the more urgent tasks, also ensure that they have the proper supplies to finish such tasks on time.
Employees approach different tasks differently. While some tackle the hardest and more urgent tasks first, others start with the small tasks and move on to the large ones later. However, as long as they get the work done on time, leave them to work in their preferred pattern. The more freedom you give them, the more chances you’ll get satisfying work. Being too rigid can lead to disengaged employees, so try to not micromanage as long as employees can meet their assignments on time.
Whether you like it or not, the current workforce is fast changing and more new workers value freedom over everything else. And many may not be comfortable in the habitual 9-5 setting.
While some workers might be sharper and more organized early in the morning, others might only get started around noon. This is why you should also consider instituting flexible work schedules. Let them try different schedules and see which ones they are most comfortable with. In addition to making them more efficient, more freedom with schedules will also help them relieve some of the stress related to their tasks. This could eventually translate to better performances in the long run.
Flexible schedules could work wonders for your employees’ morale as well. While there might be an occasional gap in communication between employees, they will eventually find a way to sync with each other once everyone is aware of everyone’s schedule.
In the same vein, you should also consider letting your employees complete some or all of their work from home. While it was long feared that employees that would be given the liberty to work from home would be less productive, it all really depends on the employee. In many cases, allowing them to work from home could actually make them more productive and efficient.
Some employees are just better at managing tasks when they have full control over their schedule. And with all the communication tools we have today, you can easily monitor your workers’ progress from a distance. So, it would be wise to consider trying the option and seeing if the results are conclusive. However, only institute flexible work schedules or distance work if your business allows it and if you feel like your employees are responsible enough for it.
Sometimes, employees with the right goals and priorities still lag behind in their assignments, especially if they have too much work in their in-tray. In such cases, delegate the task to some of their colleagues if you want it done faster. However, ensure that you assign the capable people who work with the first employee to the task. Or, instead of speeding up the work, you’ll only slow it down.
But freedom doesn’t mean leaving employees to their own devices. Some appropriate supervision is still necessary. For instance, you can install a biometric system to track attendance, staff breaks, and working hours. This will allow you to identify time wasters and make other adjustments.
Even after doing all the above, you will still need to train your employees on time management to ensure permanent results. Besides increasing their productivity, morale, and job satisfaction, the training also increases your return on investment and client base. So how do you start the training? For one, you can find time management training options on findcourses.com. Or, you can start an on-the-job training program in which the supervisors mentor their juniors on time management.
Although time management improves productivity and raises your profit margin, it also keeps the employees happy and working to their fullest potential, thus improving the overall office culture. However, first you must evaluate employee performance to identify the problem areas. Then tackle them.