Time management is a valuable career skill for any employee, regardless of his or her industry. In almost every workplace in the country, from kitchens to warehouses to offices, employees are expected to complete a certain number of tasks by the end of the day, and if they can meet or surpass this number, everybody wins. Employers get more for their money, and employees stand out and increase their chances of promotion and advancement. So how can you help your employees manage their time wisely in ways that benefit both of you?
1. Coach, don’t punish. Recognize that employees who struggle with time management aren’t usually stupid or lazy; they just haven’t yet learned some of the tricks and tips that come naturally to others. Instead of yelling or becoming exasperated, take a look at your employee’s desk and give her some gentle pointers that might help her keep things in order and keep the day on track.
2. Remember the 80/20 rule. 20 percent of the things we do during the day provide 80 percent of our results. Before you burden your employees with ten tasks and expect them to prioritize these tasks the way you would, pause. Consider removing some of the low priority items from the list, so employees can commit themselves more fully to the 20 percent that matters most.
3. Remember the first rule of closet organization: objects expand to fit the space available. The same principle applies to tasks and time. If you give your employee the whole day to complete an hour of work, the work will take a day, not an hour. And if you ask her to complete a day’s worth of work in an hour, an hour is exactly how long the task will take. But of course, this rule comes with limits and corollaries. A day’s work completed in an hour probably won’t be very innovative, creative, neat, correct, or thorough. And of course, asking this too often will lead to resentment, burnout, and high turnover.
4. Encourage your time-challenged employees to set measurable goals and think of time management as a game. Encourage friendly competition with meaningful rewards for top performers. And as always, thank employees who make an honest effort to improve their practices and increase their productivity.
For more on how to help your teams manage their busy schedules, reach out to the NC staffing experts at PSU.