Poor time management costs companies millions


.yet the company that encourages better self management among staff can see share prices rise up to 14% a year according to new research

The most valuable commodity in the world today is time, none of us have enough and it’s moving faster than at any period in history. Yet time-wasting is costing companies at least two hours per employee a day.

That adds up to millions lost to big companies each year and billions to economies. A survey by America Online and Salary.com shows that in the United States of America, the average worker admits to frittering away 2.09 hours per 8-hour workday, not including lunch and scheduled breaks. Salary.com calculated that employers spend $759 billion per year on salaries for which real work was expected, but not actually performed.

Liza van Wyk, CEO of AstroTech a major training organisation for executives and managers which runs a course called Mastering Time and Self Management says "old thinking was that you get on the employees case, punish, push, monitor tightly and get rid of. Today we know there are sciences of how to perform better . Many managers don’t perform optimally because they don’t understand the Time Management Matrix. If they don’t understand that, they also don’t know how to encourage and engage staff in ways that lead to a happier workplace and better performance.'

Research just released by the University of Pennsylvania’s esteemed Wharton School shows that the 100 Best Companies to Work For listed by Fortune saw their stock price rise an average of 14% a year from 1998 to 2005 compared to a 6% market average. The Bank of Scotland has new research indicating a 10% increase in leadership effectiveness converts into a 3% boost to customer satisfaction and a 1% reduction in staff turnover - the latter alone saves companies some $40m a year that would otherwise be spent replacing workers.

"A good deal of poor time management is about self-deception,' Van Wyk says, "if you take the way the average person deals with urgent but not important matters, the noise of urgency creates an illusion of importance, but the activities are only important to someone else. We spend a lot of time meeting other people’s priorities and expectations.'

Poor time management is likely to see us burn-out faster. Prolonged tense-energy or tense-tiredness affects emotional intelligence and raises vulnerability to anxiety and fearfulness meaning that while apparently very busy, you’re persistently losing effectiveness. Mastering Time and Self Management advises that the state to strive for is calm-energy which is low tension, high energy where you feel serene, in control, alert, optimistic and creatively intelligent.

"Take a look at politicians during an election,' Van Wyk says, "the very long US primaries are a good example of the need for candidates to sustain calm-energy, if they get into a tense-energy state, they start saying and doing things they shouldn’t and accelerate their chances of losing.

"A good deal of managing time effectively has nothing to do with work - it’s about sleeping properly, having healthy meals, exercising, maintaining humour and interest in people and life around you. It is important to recognise your personality style and how that impacts on you wasting time.'

Classic time-wasters include attempting too much at once; poor health; a cluttered desk or office; lack of self discipline; prolonged courtesy calls; inability to say "no’ and a lack of co-ordination. Ignoring the phone adds to time and costs - you’ll have to call back, rather deal with it immediately. Procrastination allows issues to develop and become more complex to resolve.

Improving time management:

  • Tidy your office, throw out what you don’t need, get filing up to date and have a clean desk
  • Keep documents to one page, get off mailing lists, reject junk mail, screen phone calls, learn to use software correctly and cancel unnecessary subscriptions
  • Channel day dreaming into something that’s productive - give yourself a definite time and place to meditate each day and just one subject to muse on
  • At the start or end of each day plan tomorrow’s activities with a To-Do list and rank in order of priority
  • Good planning includes establishing objectives, determining resources, assigning accountability, action plans, deadlines and review points. Assess progress at the same time each day.
  • Keep meetings to a minimum but when they are held stick to an agenda and a time frame.
  • At the end of each day have 15 to 20 minutes where you sit back and reflect on the day and how you could have done it better.
  • Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can complete today.
  • If you have to wait in someone’s outer office for an appointment take a book, your computer or work you can scan while waiting.
  • Delegate or outsource that which is not imperative for you to do.
  • "Effective management is really about knowing when to step back, delegate, ramp up productivity and manage time better. It sets a good example for staff and provides for more inspirational leadership,' Van Wyk says. And it also saves companies a small fortune.

    * Astro Tech is a major South African training organisation based in Johannesburg. It targets executives and managers in the public and private sector for training in management, people skills and information technology. .


    LIZA VAN WYK, CEO ASTRO TECH 011 453 5291 cell: 082 466 8975 or liza@astrotech.co.za www.astrotech.co.za

    Issued by MediaOnLine mediaonline@global.co.za 011-646 7637