How to Improve Your Team's Time Management
A leader is probably familiar with poor employee time management skills. It can lead to stress spiking as the deadline approaches and the usual productive workflow gets disrupted. But what can you do to help your team overcome it? Have you ever used an OKR framework?
Unsurprisingly, teams with bad time management are the least productive. And while everyone might procrastinate in different ways. Usually, the most efficient groups have a similar pattern, and a good leader helps them maintain it. To empower you to help your team, we've put together the below guide on improving your team's time management skills.
Why it matters.
The most crucial reason will, of course, be productivity. Teams that have good time management practices perform better. Their communication will be good to help work out timeline issues as well as to ensure a high-quality standard.
They'll also be happier. Oscillating between procrastination and deadline pressure can have a negative impact both on the individual's well-being and on the overall group. That negative impact will then be associated with the work, which will, in turn, affect job satisfaction. As soon as these symptoms become visible, you'll need to immediately step in and apply correction to the course.
A structure for all needs.
The first thing you'll need to do to correct time management issues is to check how their efforts are measured while on the clock. In every person's mind, there must be a direct correlation between the time spent and the action taken.
This is usually done through time-tracking platforms; however, the biggest issue is that they may not accurately represent each individual's workflow. Some may prefer multi-tasking, while others require a singular focus at a time.
Some people want a clear, static work schedule, while others crave variety. And some others will finish tasks sooner than most of their colleagues. Is the current schedule suitable for them, or will it punish them with additional work to finish quickly?
Changes need to be made to account for the team's needs to give the best output. Nothing is perfect, though; there will be only so much you can do. That's where good communication comes in. Representing their tasks visually will help them understand their role and foster accountability. You can do this with a simple schematic, but we'd recommend using an OKR framework to direct your team's focus for the best results.
Often, a breakdown in time management can have a more significant problem at its core. This can be everything from problems with the task you must correct to problems with a particular individual's knowledge base or available tools. You will only know which one is if you create a proper environment for submitting feedback.
Make it a priority to establish good communication channels. Having meetings and one-to-ones is good, but you'll get the needed information by not being the only one talking. Divide the meeting time in two and limit yourself to just half.
Give the other half to your team member in a one-to-one, letting them speak about everything and anything they would want. In group meetings, make sure everyone has a chance to voice their opinion and try to milk valuable feedback to direct process improvement.
Be completely transparent with how everyone's role affects the workflow and empower them to suggest changes. This will make them feel valued and listened to and give them ownership of their part of the process.
Some team members will need you to step in and give a hand in prioritising their workloads. After all, if everything is urgent, then nothing is. Keep an eye out for repeat offenders in time management, and instead of chastising, check to see if the root cause isn't lousy prioritisation. Coach them on improving it and ensuring they do not have other tasks dropped to serve as distractions that conflict with their primary task.
Team members with hybrid roles are especially vulnerable to this. They might have additional responsibilities conflicting with each other or report to multiple people pulling them in different directions. In this case, giving them the agency to decline non-priority tasks can resolve the issue.
Training and development.
You'll often find a need for more training or tools as the main culprit. Outdated knowledge bases or the pressure to cut costs can lead to underequipped staff scrambling to do what they can. Feedback might need to be processed further or create a business case for additional training or system improvement.
As always, there will always be something more that you can do. Pace your efforts and ensure you objectively evaluate how much investment is needed to resolve the matter.
Be the example.
Leading by example is a saying for a reason: it works. Start planning your day on your calendar and share it with your team. Research ways to exercise time-management skills to save time in your daily life. Create a code for when you have a task that needs uninterrupted work. Then, encourage the whole team to do the same.
Our final thoughts.
A good leader can distinguish between a momentary time management issue and a vicious cycle. Depending on your situation, you might need to alter your approach and see the problem recurring with the same people or processes.
Following the steps, however, will give you a starting point to build further. Make sure you take the time to evaluate your team's time management regularly, and we're sure you'll be set to help them improve.