Time is an equal opportunity teaser. Whether you are a lowly intern or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, you will always have at least one constrain to tie you down – the race against time.
Well okay, you may argue that the rich can afford to buy time by spending millions on minions to do their work. But that’s it.
Buying time will come at some cost such as money, freedom, effort and perhaps more time to make sure you have the right kind of minions handling your work.
While it would be lovely to rant away with our drive-thru pop-philosophy, let’s just jump to the intent of the article in the interest of, you know, time – How to manage time when that’s not all you have to manage?
Why is Time Management important for Managers?
A Manager is the face of a team. It is his role to be the decision maker, the leader, mentor and finally the person responsible for the success or failure of his employees (Read Signs of a great team player and Coaching Skills essential for a Manager).
And if things go south, a manager is generally the organization scapegoat to be booted out. To sum it up, a manager is the one who,
- decides the goals of the team
- plans out the actions necessary to achieve the goals in the desired time
- delegates those tasks to his team
- identifies the weak spots in the team and finds ways to overcome the shortcomings
- chalks development plans for the team members
- coaches his team whenever the need arises
- keeps the team going past conflicts
- updates himself to the latest in technical and business runnings
And alas, there are only 24 hours a day and 10-12 hrs that can be sanely dedicated to his profession. Let’s not forget that the manager is human too!
So, it is imperative for him to recognize that, besides capital, it is time that is the most consumable commodity in wanting in any organization. Quoting the much popular overused phrase, time is money.
A successful manager is thus required to recognize the value of time and the necessity to manage it. (Read List of key skills for managers and employees)
So let’s explore ways in which you can, as a manager, successfully channel your given hours.
How to manage time at work
Recognize your team’s shortcomings
There is that saying that your team can only be as fast as the slowest member. It may be actually worded differently, but you get the picture. So you see it is essential for you to recognize what’s holding your team back. Is it a resource, is it the pressure, is it a training, is it a member or is it the leadership, aka you?
‘Coz once you are able to identify the weakest link, you can begin to repair it. That is exactly where your leadership skills are tested. It is your job to develop necessary professional development plans for your team.
You have to make sure that every member is adequately trained for the responsibility being handed to them. That your team is not taking on more than they can handle and that they have every resource available to let them complete their tasks.
Easy as a pie right?
In other words, communicate with your team and have an open door policy to hear them out. You don’t want to be the weakest link oblivious to your team’s needs.
Delegate tasks wisely
One of the consequences of having a transparent leadership is the ability to identify the skill strengths of each team member. Amit is a thinker. Neha is a doer. Venkat is creative. Divya is analytic.
Once you educate yourself with the skill sets of each individual, you will know exactly which job to delegate to whom. It’s a smart way of making sure that the goal is reached through the shortest possible route.
Define the team priorities
Having clarity of the team’s priorities helps set clear goals for each team member to follow. Consider this scenario. If you don’t make expectations clear, Amit may begin thinking about his next project, Neha working on her end year report, Venkat on the design of an experiment he has been putting off, and Divya analyzing the data for her friend in accounting.
All while you have a deadline on the current project in three weeks. You see if you had laid down the priorities well, you could have had your team of fantastic four working in tandem towards the end goal, instead of the unorganized mess this seems to be!
Organize information, shared within the team
This one is all about book keeping. If you and your team can find a way to create a repository of shared information, your team can save precious minutes in rehashing known information over and over again. In fact even trainings can be documented and recorded.
That way, any eager learner can reach out to it in their own time. Or for that matter project progress can be updated live on some magical portal that your team can access. That way when its time to meet and greet, as a group, just read the breaking news on the project channel! Nifty eh?
Separate the good meetings from the bad ones
When a new manager takes over a team, he usually inherits the team traditions from the leaders past. And some of those traditions involve monthly, weekly and even daily meetings which have lost relevance with the passage of time.
With the ball in your court, you can judiciously recognize the redundant meetings which no longer have any measurable ROI for the time being invested. Just ask three questions to recognize the fillers.
- Does the meeting match the team priorities?
- Is there adequate participation?
- Is it making a positive impact, measurable in performance units?
If any of these gets a nay, maybe it is time to evaluate its usefulness. Can the content be discussed over email instead?
If you tend to be democratic in nature, you can even try to get your team to vote on the effectivity questions above and then finally choose what you would want do anyway, in the true democratic spirit!
This doesn’t mean getting the intern to take out the trash. Every organization tends to have a certain amount of redundancy in its functional system. Meetings, as discussed above, can be wasteful if the consequence is not useful.
Wastefulness can even show up in say unused resources, misused employee talent, and unnecessary processes in production. Fixing the redundancies can take time but in time, you can create a more efficient team, zipping swiftly towards every goal. A time management dream come true.
While time is money, money is power and power is certainly something a manager has, the reverse is disappointingly out of reach. So instead of chasing after the ticking clock, these means can instead help let you make a realistic attempt at making the tick-tocks less relevant.
In fact, if you had to think about it, the suggestions are quite intuitive actually. It is not like reinventing the wheel. Just an attempt to make it go faster.
So go ahead and try them out and let us know when you get the Best Boss mug from your team.