Management Challenge #5: When Employees Have a Hard Time Managing Time
Excerpted from The 27 Challenges Managers Face
Before you engage in any tug of war over time-management with any of your employees, first make sure you really understand the true time requirements of the jobs in question. In certain jobs it is critical that employees be faithful to a very precise schedule: Those are jobs where the employee’s physical presence at a specific place and time is essential to his/her work. It might be a factory where shifts are timed to keep the production machinery working around the clock. In retail, somebody needs to be there to open the store, first thing, and close the store, last thing, not to mention in between when customers might want to shop. In a hospital, you need coverage all the time because you can’t have patients there without health care providers. Whenever “coverage” is the critical time management factor, everybody has much less flexibility, so everybody needs to work harder to make it work.
There are other jobs where the key is to be available at a moment’s notice, such as doctors, police officers, and firefighters. On-call work is the extreme on both sides of flexibility. Whenever one is on call, the employee’s time is not really free. Yet on-call arrangements allow employers to be leaner in their staffing while maintaining coverage and, at the same time, they give some employees more time at least “almost off.”
Still many other types of work have the potential to be much more flexible. Lots of work can be done by mutual appointment, for example, real estate sales or financial advising. There is increasingly more work that can be done really anytime as long as it’s done by a certain deadline, for example web design or data analysis. Even work that requires considerable interdependency can be done on a flexible schedule as long as those who are working together remain in regular high-quality communication.
FROM OUR RESEARCH:
What about the employee who is chronically late, leaves early, wastes time and/or takes too many breaks?
There’s a good chance the employee would benefit greatly from some aggressive coaching on time-management.
Are some employees insulted or annoyed by the explicit focus on the petty details of living by a schedule? Perhaps they are. But almost always they start coming in on time, staying all day, and taking fewer breaks, at least for a while. A lot of employees will be genuinely grateful for your helping them understand how they are using their time and get better at living by a schedule.
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I guess I should warn you, I’m going to be focused on my forthcoming book for the foreseeable future. The 27 Challenges Managers Face: Step-by-Step Solutions to (Nearly) All of Your Management Problems is coming out in September! There is so much in the book, I’m just going to keep offering previews of the concrete management problems and step-by-step solutions to those problems. Click here for a digital sampler. I hope you like the previews enough to order the book for yourself and every manager you know. If you really love it, maybe you will go to Amazon and give me a great review… In any case, I’d love to get your feedback. Please let me know what you think.
Until next time…
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This video is from lesson #9 in the RainmakerThinking.training course “It’s Okay to Manage Yourself”