Advertising
Advertising

12 Effective Time Management Skills for Managers

12 Effective Time Management Skills for Managers

Finding an effective and successful manager who doesn’t know how to properly manage their time and their employees is a bit like finding a unicorn. You won’t, because they don’t exist. Everyone is given an equal number of hours in the day to accomplish the tasks that need their attention, how you go about utilizing your time will ultimately determine whether or not you’re successful in completing those tasks.

Whether you’re a first-time manager or simply need a bit of a refresher course, learning and applying proper time management skills will go a long way in your career success.

Before we jump into the effective time management skills for managers, let’s discuss the “why” and “what” in regards to time management. Time management is simply a method of organizing how to best use the 24 hours in a day to accomplish personal and professional tasks.

The Eisenhower Matrix, developed by US President Dwight Eisenhower broke time management into four groups:[1]

Do First, Schedule, Delegate, and Don’t Do.

All time management skills fall somewhere within this matrix. Learning to break up your time and tasks effectively will allow you to accomplish goals and successfully lead your team — without losing your sanity.

1. Know How to Properly Plan out Goals

Benjamin Franklin once said,

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

The founding father really hit the nail on the head, and learning how to properly plan out your team’s goals is key. As for goals, you should set daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly goals that can be broken down into manageable assignments.

For example, if you have a goal of increasing traffic to the company’s website by 10 percent over the course of a year, you’ll need to set measurable milestones weekly, monthly, and at the six-month mark to keep the goal on track.

Take a look at these guides on setting short term and long term goals:

2. Good Communication Will Make a World of Difference

Good communication can make or break any relationship — personal or business – and when a manager is struggling with their time management, communication often suffers. However, if a manager takes the time to listen and clearly communicate with their team and clients, it can make all the difference in a business’ success.

Be sure to communicate regularly with your team members to ensure that they’re working towards milestones that have been clearly laid out. A manager that clearly and regularly communicates with customers is also more likely to grow their business. Be sure to make the most of your time with thoughtful communication.

Learn the 7 Ways to Ensure Effective Communication at Work.

3. Good Organization Is Key

Strong organization involving both delegated duties and your actual workspace are crucial to effective time management for managers. If your team is disorganized and people are unclear of what assignments are on their plate or who they should turn to for help, any set goals will suffer.

Good communication and good organization go hand-in-hand when it comes to making the most of one’s time.

Advertising

As for the organization of your workspace, well, if you like to keep your bedroom messy at home, that’s your business, but messiness has no place in business. Every minute that you’re looking for a misplaced file is a minute wasted that could have been better spent.

Why not take a look at these 15 Best Organizing Tips For Office Organization and Getting More Done?

4. Effective Delegation Is Everything

Effective delegation will help to set up your team members to work confidently and effectively. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to assess who on your staff is best-suited for what task and to assign the responsibilities that go with it. Failure to take the lead and delegate duties will only waste both the time of you and your team members.

By carefully delegating different duties and ensuring your staff have everything they need to complete those duties, team members will be less needy of you when it comes to getting the job done.

Learn the art of delegation in this guide: How to Delegate Work Effectively (The Definitive Guide for Leaders)

5. Schedule the Proper Tasks at the Proper Time

If you were building a car, you wouldn’t start by trying to install the sound system before the frame was in place, would you?

The first block of the Eisenhower Matrix is Do First, meaning decide what the key duties that you need to knock out are before moving on to the next thing. These might be small things like replying to a query from your boss or they could be larger, such as finalizing the plans for a new social media strategy.

The point is, make sure you learn to prioritize the most important tasks of each day, how long you’ll need to complete them and when they should be addressed.

Advertising

Here’s a technique to help you prioritize tasks: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

6. Learn to Recognize Multitasking Traps

Everyone has multiple things they need to do, but when we try juggling all those things at once, some are bound to hit the floor. It’s far too easy to start working on one assignment and then jump into your email because you got a ping on your phone. This is terrible for breaking your concentration and just forces your brain to play catchup.

Instead, set aside specific time blocks in the day to check and reply to emails. By focusing on one task at a time, you’ll finish the job sooner and give it your brain’s full attention.

Try these 9 Tips on Multitasking Management That Will Improve Your Productivity.

7. Learn to Prioritize Not Only Your Time, but Help Employees Prioritize Theirs

We might think that we devote a solid eight hours a day to the core duties of our jobs, but research shows that’s not us usually the case.[2] You can help your team make the most of their time (and yours) by occasionally doing a time audit. Set aside one day where you have your staff track what they do and how long they spend doing it.

Make sure you’re clear that this exercise is meant to help employees in the long-run and is not a way of weeding out poor workers. Hopefully, with enough data, you and your team will be able to better determine what’s working and how to avoid any work lags or interruptions.

9. Keeping up Appearances Can Go a Long Way

Just as sailors look to their captain for guidance in a storm, your employees need to feel that you’re managing your time well. If every time your employees approach you, you’re frazzled and in a rush, they’re more likely to hold off on coming to you about important issues.

There may be the occasional day when you are struggling to hold it all together, but keeping up the appearance of a manager who is on top of their time management game can really help in impacting others to manage their time effectively as well.

Advertising

10. Know What to Do When Your Plate Is Getting Too Full

A little pressure and a deadline can be a powerful motivator when it comes to hunkering down and getting things done. If you find that your list of “must-do” jobs is getting a little too long, it could be an indicator of two things:

One possibility is that you’re not managing your time as effectively as you could be. If that’s the case, go back to the top and review.

Even the best manager though has their limits and there are only so many minutes in a day. A good manager doesn’t try to do every task that comes their way themselves. They know how to best use their staff to help ensure that goals are met and they know when their workload is at capacity.

11. Understand the 80/20 Rule

According to the Pareto Principle or better known as the 80/20 rule, 80 percent of results come from just 20 percent of actions. The other 20 percent of results come from… you guessed it, 80 percent of actions.

As for how this all factors into the time management of an effective manager, well, the must-be-done, no excuses priorities might only be 20 percent of your job, but they’ll produce the biggest results. The remaining 80 percent of duties can probably be delegated out among the staff on your team.

12. Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Break When Needed

If you’re working like a freight train every second of the day without taking a few minutes to step back and breathe, you’re going to experience burnout. Burnout is that sneaky time management killer that creeps up when you’re trying to make sure not a single minute goes un-devoted to work. The result is that, you’ll soon have less energy and concentration and eventually your work may take a toll on your mental health.

Scheduling downtime for yourself is important. So encourage your employees to take breaks and don’t forget to take them yourself. A few breaks throughout the work day can go a long way in putting you in the right mindset for making the most of your time.

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to get caught up in the “day to day” of the business and find yourself developing unhealthy habits as a manager. Focus on building out the recommendations in this article, and spend time empowering your team. Not only will overall productivity improve, you’ll find yourself fast becoming a stellar and respectable leader.

Advertising

More About Work Productivity

Featured photo credit: Proxyclick Visitor Management System via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Chris Porteous

The CEO of Grey Smoke Media / My SEO Sucks, helping entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.

Feel like Giving Up? 16 Way to Help Entrepreneurs Stay Motivated 8 Tactics to Greatly Improve Motivation in the Workplace 16 Tips For Success from the World’s Most Influential People 10 Tools to Start an Online Business without Breaking the Bank 11 Reasons Why We Fail to Achieve Our Goals

Trending in Leadership

1 11 Things You Can Do to Increase Employee Productivity 2 3 Effective Ways To Collaborate With Your Team 3 How to Become a Leader That People Respect 4 The Importance of Delegating Leadership (And How to Do It) 5 How To Be Successful In Leadership As an Introverted Leader

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

Advertising

Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

Advertising

It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

Advertising

Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

    Advertising

    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

    More Productivity Tips

    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next