So lately I’ve been hearing the faint murmurings of distaste among the staff. It’s the hissing under their breath when they think I’m out of earshot, the sudden silence that happens when I enter the room and the slight hints of sarcasm that is spoken as they acknowledge a policy which they “accept”. Yes, I believe I have been labeled “The Time Management Nazi.”
Any regular reader of this blog knows that I’m a time management fiend. I hate wasting my own time, and hate wasting company time even more. Salaries are not paid on wasted time, now, are they?
I remember one of the first employees I ever hired. An older guy whom I was trying to explain some of the more basic link research concepts. This guy was a classic example of time wasted. Anytime after being shown something new he needed a brief 90 second pause in order “to take it all in”. OK, pause over, now we can go on with the less… oh, wait… another pause!
One day I had jumped over to a different machine and after several minutes I noticed that this gentleman was turned around looking at me. I asked him if he needed help. His response was, “I’ll wait, I don’t want to bother you.” Uh, hello…. time’s a wasting. You get paid by the hour. By all means, BOTHER ME!
So, yeah, I’m a sticker for maximizing time. And its just that that has my team quietly seething at me.
Here’s the deal. I want to make sure we keep accurate records of what each person does each day. To this end I have them record what they do, what client they do it for, so on and so forth. I also expect an accuracy rate of 95%. That means in any given day less than 30 minutes can remain unaccounted for.
I have created a very nice excel tracking sheet. Each sheet has a section for every client which allows the team to to mark the date, what they did, start and stop time and a total. I also have sections for what we call “unbillable” time. This is whenever they do something that is not directly related to a specific client such as educational reading, blogging, playing pool, er I mean “pool table brainstorming”, etc. Each sheet is good for a week in which everything gets totaled and then dumped into a different spreadsheet so I can track how we are allocating our time to each client on weekly, monthly and yearly basis.
Complaints have ranged from, “the writing space is too small,” to “can’t we build a system to do that for us?” My answers typically range from, “You’ll get over it” to, “we’re working on it, work with what we have and get over it.” I have a low tolerance for whining.
Since we’ve implemented this detailed tracking I’ve been able to glean a good number of insights. On average we spend about 62% of our time each week on “billable” activities. The other 38% goes towards company matters, meetings, brainstorming sessions, personal development, etc. Our goal is for everyone to be above 60%. That’s easier for some than others. We also know when we are over-focusing on some clients while neglecting others.
In all, this information has proven invaluable as it gives us a clearer picture on pricing structures, time allotment, etc. So I don’t mind being called a Time Management Nazi. In fact, I relish the idea that, while implementing these tracking measures may cause some minor griping among the team, it ultimately will allow us to ensure time is spent in the most productive way. Higher productivity equals more company profits which, in-turn, goes into increased employee salaries and bonuses.
Funny, how I never hear griping when I hand out pay raises and bonuses!
(Note: This post is written with tongue firmly planted in cheek. While the tracking measures instituted are real, the griping, mumbling and complaining is not. I’ve got a fantastic team and I could not be happier with their performance. One additional note to Seth: it’s a joke. Get over it!)