Make al­lowances to bud­get time

The Pak Banker - - OPINION - Dr. Tommy Weir

WHEN the Rolling Stones belted out the lyrics of 'Time is on my side' in 1964 - their first Top 10 hit in Amer­ica - lit­tle did they know they were giv­ing out man­age­ment ad­vice. While the man­age­ment mean­ing in this song is far from its re­la­tion­ship ad­vice, it fo­cuses at­ten­tion to­wards time. Con­trary to the way the Stones con­veyed it, time isn't un­end­ing; it's ac­tu­ally just the op­po­site - a lim­ited re­source.

One of the com­pa­nies that I coach brought for­ward a com­plex chal­lenge to re­solve in their up­com­ing ex­ec­u­tive team coach­ing ses­sion. They iden­ti­fied the need to ex­plore si­mul­ta­ne­ously em­ployee en­gage­ment, the staff be­ing over­worked, multi-task­ing, work­ing with less re­sources, and con­tin­ued ag­gres­sive growth. The per­fect syn­chro­ni­sa­tion of these top­ics was to drive em­ployee en­gage­ment by re­duc­ing the time worked while en­hanc­ing col­lec­tive out­put. Easy, right?

To do this you need to fo­cus on creat­ing sur­plus value: be­ing able to ex­tract more from your ex­ist­ing as­set base, with­out in­creas­ing in­put, to be in a po­si­tion to pro­duce sur­plus value. As a cri­te­rion of profitabil­ity, value is the ac­cu­mu­lated dif­fer­ence be­tween re­turns and costs, ob­vi­ously, re­flect­ing the con­nec­tion be­tween profitabil­ity and pro­duc­tiv­ity.

Sur­plus value hap­pens when you decou- ple your com­pany's out­put growth from the pay­roll and other in­put val­ues, which brings us back to time is on your side. This doesn't mean that you can sit back and wait for value to be cre­ated.

It means that time is the over­looked area where sur­plus value is cre­ated. When you use your time cor­rectly, which al­most ev­ery com- pany doesn't, you're ac­tu­ally able to cre­ate more time. What would you do if you had more hours in the day? Your com­pany could pro­duce more re­sults or you could even give some of the time back to your em­ploy­ees.

When I walked into the coach­ing ses­sion, I asked the lead­ers, "Do you have a time bud­get?" I knew the an­swer, it's the same as yours prob­a­bly is, "No!" But hear­ing those words, the con­cept of a time bud­get caught their in­ter­est. Time is one of your fi­nite, yet mea­sur­able as­sets. It should be treated with the same dis­ci­pline that money is.

A time bud­get brings clar­ity to how long it takes to con­duct any and ev­ery ac­tiv­ity and how each type of em­ployee should be spend­ing their time. At its core is a price list clar­i­fy­ing how long ev­ery ac­tiv­ity takes and how much each cost. When you put your time bud­get in place, you're able to iden­tify what's wast­ing time and know specif­i­cally where you should fo­cus to cre­ate more time. Both of these will re­sult in creat­ing sur­plus value.

It's hard to un­der­stand how a com­pany can func­tion with­out a time bud­get. It's also hard to imag­ine that com­pa­nies re­quire ap­proval for a D500 travel ex­pense and let any em­ployee call a meet­ing at any time invit­ing five, even ten, em­ploy­ees to spend an hour in the meet­ing. The cost of the meet­ing far ex­ceeds the travel ex­pense, yet no ap­proval or con­sid­er­a­tion is given to it as an ex­pense. This is way time ei­ther de­stroys or cre­ates sur­plus value. I've never heard a com­pany say they have too many em­ploy­ees for what their plans re­quire. Ac­tu­ally, the ar­gu­ment is just the op­po­site, we need more em­ploy­ees. So, why is it that time con­sump­tion is un­mea­sured and un­mon­i­tored?

If you have a time bud­get, all of a sud­den you'll be­come con­scious of how you use time.

To high­light how these ex­ec­u­tives were spend­ing their time, I had each one con­duct a calendar anal­y­sis were they re­viewed their work day-by-day for the past 60 days, and then add in re­cur­ring quar­terly and an­nual ac­tiv­i­ties, to de­ter­mine how they spend ev­ery minute. The anal­y­sis looks at time by ac­tiv­ity type, situation and com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nel.

These ex­ec­u­tives were shocked when they fin­ished to re­alise that the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of their time was spent manag­ing op­er­a­tional ac­tiv­i­ties and projects. Yet a mere 15 per cent was spent de­vel­op­ing and mo­ti­vat­ing peo­ple and re­view­ing per­for­mance against goals. The bal­ance of our day-long coach­ing ses­sion was spent on shift­ing how they are spend­ing their time in or­der to re­duce and lever­age what they're do­ing.

I won­der, "How are you spend­ing your time?" The calendar anal­y­sis ac­tiv­ity is a great way to un­der­stand ob­jec­tively how you use time. When you use it bet­ter, out­put will out­grow the in­put, mak­ing you more com­pet­i­tive com­pared with your com­peti­tors. Time, time, time is on your side - yes it is.

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