When Is Time Management Not Enough?

A working manager needs more than time management.

That old saying, "Dance with the one that brought you to the ball," came to mind as I received a reality jolt recently.

Let me share with you that jolting insight. I was in transition away from managing several groups of technicians and professionals to more personal hands-on production management. My self-image and reputation lead me to assume that simply putting in the same hours in my usual efficient manner would do the trick. So, I continued tracking my time.

Wrong assumption!

It was necessary to get back to basics or, to use the wisdom of that old saying, to dance with the one who got me from there to here. Namely, tracking specific actions that produce results instead of tracking time spent on specific and general activity.

What I was suspecting was painfully true. Effective results were falling short of my own standards and objectives.

I replaced my time managing controls with production controls. My daily discipline, attitudes and focus changed immediately and so did the output. I was no longer deceiving myself by playing that look-how-hard-I'm-trying game

It's a humbling experience when the manager needs the same supervision as salespeople, technicians and other such producers. It's embarrassing when a manager applies to oneself the same stringent supervisory methods he or she once used on salespersons and other responsible persons working in critical profit centers.

While this piece is directed to the owner/manager who plays a hands-on role in a small business, it serves as a reminder to all managers who could be due for a comparative review of daily actions, time use and actual output.

Now, let me share with you the simple control device that did the turn-around for me.

It was set up as a spreadsheet. In the first column I listed the items to be produced, in the second column were the objectives (e.g: 10 / week, 0.2/day, 12 in can, etc.) and to the right columns headed with dates of the workdays for the month into which you tally your production. In the far right columns are totals and evaluation against your objectives.

The vertical tally gives you a quick view of your daily output.

You can construct this on your personal workstation, laptop or palm device. I opted for a printout for recording my single stroke [|||] tally because I was working at my desktop computer. Results can be entered on my spreadsheet or into my database later if I want more extensive analyses or records.

This is especially valuable for the manager assuming the responsibility of selling to key accounts and may have excused himself or herself from the scrutiny of a sales manager.

It's a good idea to occasionally review all of your functions for any possible lapses into some gold-bricking activities. It pays to ask yourself, "Who's managing the manager?" Should you find a weakness, you have my empathy as it can be a humbling and/or embarrassing experience. Take heart ? it's rewarded with valuable improvements in your own productivity along with improved self-esteem.

Gerry McRae has taught time management techniques in his university courses and at several police colleges. He is also the author of "Time Management for Entrepreneurs - What to do, When & Why" available at http://www.unclemaxsays.com/timemanagement.php

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