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Helping Your Team Manage & Track Time 4 tips for better time tracking (without the eye rolls)
Introduction If you’re looking to improve time management on your team, time tracking is the place to start. While this is undoubtedly an unpopular topic among most employees, it is nevertheless essential if you want the ability to consistently meet deadlines, forecast future bandwidth, and effectively allocate resources. In some ways, it all comes down to your skills as a manager.
Introduction Initially, your employees won’t be eager to track the hours they spend on individual tasks. It feels like a distraction from their “real” work. But gaining their cooperation is easier when they can visualize the benefits: better reporting and more respect. These 4 tips will make this possible…
Establish a shared vision In Managing High Performance and Retention (2001), Bob Weyant describes the three kinds of power managers have to influence employee behavior: Commitment to a shared vision Personal power Position power
Bob Weyant Author, Managing High Performance and Retention “Effective leaders influence mostly through shared vision/goal and personal power.”
Establish a shared vision So how do you get commitment to a shared vision? You start by actually sharing your vision. Don’t just tell your team what they need to start doing (tracking the hours they spend on individual projects), explain the why as well.
Establish a shared vision If you don’t explain your true reasons for asking your team to start logging their hours, they will make up their own reasons: “She doesn’t trust me.” “She thinks I’m wasting too much time.” “She’s a micromanager.” “She’s looking for reasons to fire me.”
Establish a shared vision Luckily, there are plenty of really good reasons to focus on time tracking that everyone can get behind, including to: Account for ad hoc requests Balance team members’ workloads Defend headcount to upper management Justify saying ‘no’ to requests Be more realistic about team bandwidth
Establish a shared vision If you share this list of benefits with your team, your underperformers may still have cause to worry or complain – after all, they won’t be able to get away with slacking as easily anymore. But those who are pulling their weight will look at this list with relief. “You mean tracking my hours means job security and less overtime? Sign me up!”
2. Choose an intuitive solution Make sure the solution you choose has the power to deliver on what you’ve promised. Ideally, it should work intuitively with the processes you already have in place, rather than taking too many additional steps. If your team uses a project management software solution, choose a time-tracking that integrates well with what you have.
2. Choose an intuitive solution But when selecting a time-tracking protocol for your team, there are a few additional questions to ask, depending on your team’s needs, including: Does your current PM solution have a time-tracking feature that you’re just not using? Does it take employees out of the work they’re doing and into a separate system? If it’s a separate system, does it integrate well with other business tools you use?
2. Choose an intuitive solution Is it clunky and intrusive or smooth and intuitive? Is there a desktop widget that can run in the background, so you don’t have to open a web browser or separate application to use it? Can you as the manager easily view individual and team results? Can time be logged on a mobile devices as well – or on desktop only?
3. Enforce the policy The only way to gather reliable metrics that will enable you to justify headcount, address productivity problems, and reapportion workload – among all the other benefits listed in section one above – is for team usage to be consistent and universal. Hold everyone accountable for using the tool on an ongoing basis.
3. Enforce the policy If usage becomes sporadic or uneven, refer back to your three influencing options. Start by sharing the vision again, then try using your personal power to improve adoption (often a short reminder conversation will be all you need), and if those don’t work, rely on your position power. This may mean applying rewards and consequences to help motivate team members to comply.
4. Allow some untracked hours There must be a certain amount of freedom and downtime in order for creativity to flourish. A work culture that’s too rigid will only get in the way of true spontaneity and innovation. No employee should be expected to account for every single minute of an 8-hour workday. Make it clear that your real goal with time tracking is ti find predictable patterns that show how long each type of task takes to complete., not to make sure each employee is working on billable tasks 100% of the day.
4. Allow some untracked hours Of course, this requires some guidelines as to what should be tracked or not (Ex: “only 80% of each day needs to be tracked”). Or you might want to distinguish by task type what will be tracked (Ex: anything assigned by another team member) or what won’t (Ex: checking and responding to email).
Brad Hoover CEO, Grammarly, Inc. “Whether or not a team member is billing by the hour, it is important to understand that time is one of the most valuable (and scarce) resources at any organization. Operating under the assumption that your time is worth money – whether to you or to your client – helps you to prioritize the finite number of hours in your day.”
Take Control of Your Time Time tracking is one way to keep team members more mindful of how they’re spending the precious resource of time. But even more importantly, it gives managers the data they need to streamline processes, predict and meet deadlines, make hiring and outsourcing decisions, distribute workload evenly across the team, and ultimately build trust with stakeholders and executives.
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