Timing is everything
Management now spreads at any level one may care to account for. From the company’s global destination, to managing each individual’s course, today we can keep track, monitor and have a firm clasp on the processes subsumed to organizational progress.
However, albeit management is evolving at an astounding rate, its new dimensions still fail to cover the ever fleeting second.
Judging by the notion that an organization is, per definition, an entity that is constituted to serve a purpose, within a certain time frame, time becomes the breaking point for a company’s future. Believing Kenneth Boulding’s assumption, that an organization has a limited life cycle, the clock seems to be ticking, and actions and plans need to make the best use of this scarce resource.
Time, as the prized premise for success, often escapes management, as tasks and deadlines cannot account for time spent in collateral activities, such as meetings, mails, calls, delays, discussions or any other actions that solicit attention. While one would prompt employees to better manage their time, a useful practice would be to see how management’s time is being used and how this impacts employees’ time usage, as suggested in a recent article issued by the Harvard Business Review. Written by Michael Mankins, Chris Brahm, and Gregory Caimi, the article brings solid arguments to the perils of irresponsible time usage. Not to sound hazardous, but beyond all control and good intentions, tasks, especially superimposed ones, such as meetings, feedback, calls, conferences, mails eat away much needed time. According to the same article, more than 15% of an average organization’s time is being spent in meetings. This does not go to say that people deliberately squander corporate time, but that the reality of today’s management tends to add more and more in a limited time frame.
In a 2013 article, distributed by Management Today, that quotes statistics gathered from a Officebroker.com survey, it is revealed that the average employee spends approximately 4 hours/week – 16 hours/month – in meetings. This adds to a whopping 9000 hours, per average career span, spent in debates and discussions. This being the estimate for the private sector, while in the public sector the figures go as high as 22 hours/week consumed with meets, greets, agendas and other idle encounters. Idle, because roughly a third of this time is being used beyond the scope of the discussion.
The 2014 article, by Michael Mankins, Chris Brahm and Gregory Caimi, presents a few ways of overcoming this insidious trap, which slowly erodes organizational performance. The means for preventing time waste include:
- prioritizing agendas, making them clear and selecting only pressing matters;
- simplifying communication structures, as to rapidly get messages delivered to whom they may concern;
- rationalizing time investment, through delegating only a few people who can summon meetings;
- standardizing decision processes, as to achieve consensus in the least amount of time;
- means of obtaining feedback for improving management, namely measuring variables that are likely to affect productivity, such as meeting time, attendance and e-mail volume.
Throughout strategies, foresights, plans, scopes and levels, an organization will always work against the timer, upon which no control can be imposed, other than rationalizing its use. Unlike other resources that may be generated through some specific mean, time’s continuous passage is an irreversible given, that requires careful investment and no indulgencies.
- Jones, D. J., Recardo, R. J. (2013) Leading and Implementing Business Change Management: Making change stick in the contemporary organization, Routledge
- Greenberg, J., (1994) Organizational Behavior: The State of the Science, Routledge Press
- Mankins, M., Brahm, C., Caimi, G., (2014) Your Scarcest Resource, Harvard Business Review, May 2014
- Burn-Chandler, R., (2013) UK Workers Waste A Year of Their Lives in Useless Meetings, Management Today, March 2013