As a leader, you want your team and employees to do well and be productive. You want them to accomplish your company’s goals and you want to support them in getting there.
However, many of your employees may have not been or have learned good time management skills. Without those skills, they can end up wasting time or doing a lot of busy but not productive work.
This brings us to the question: How do you teach employees time management? How do you give your employees the time management training they may need?
In this article, we will discuss different ways you can help your employees learn time management and some core principles you should want them to know.
Table of Contents
Methods to Teach and Reinforce Time Management Skills for Your Employees
In this section, you will learn different methods you can use to teach time management skills to your employees and to reinforce them so it is more likely to stick.
Help them see the need for better time management
One reason many trainings fail is that there is no why (or a weak why) behind it. If your employees don’t understand the need or why they need to learn, even if you provide them with time management tools, they are more likely to be resistant to learning it.
Help your employees know the why. Help your employees understand not only how it benefits the mission and the organization but also how it benefits them.
Show them how it helps them and their team accomplish their goals faster and better but also how it helps them advance their career and get more done in work and life.
Model it yourself
If you want your employees to implement your values, be passionate about your mission, or implement certain behaviors, you need to model that behavior.
“Do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t work for parents, and it doesn’t work for leaders of organizations either.
If you want to be serious about any kind of training, including time management, you have to be serious about it as well and model it.
If you don’t, don’t expect others to be serious about it either.
Depending on the individual, one of the simplest and easiest ways to help teach time management to your employees is by providing them with resources such as books.
There are many great books about time management out there, and we have an article on it on our site, but here are some to consider:
- Get More Done at Work: Advance Your Career. Earn More Money. Impress Your Boss
- Eat That Frog
- Organize Tomorrow Today: 8 Ways to Retrain Your Mind to Optimize Performance at Work and in Life
- 5 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management
Provide online training
There are many online trainings and courses that can help your employees learn quality time management skills. There are also videos on YouTube or other sites that can help your employees learn the skills.
Teach it during meetings or company/team trainings
These skills can be learned little by little over time. In fact, learning and reinforcing over time helps your employees retain what they learn. There are also activities to improve time management that you can incorporate.
During your weekly meetings, spend a couple of minutes reviewing different time management skills. Then each week, not in a gotcha but in an encouraging and reinforcing way, ask each person how they did, and where they messed up, and keep encouraging them along the way.
Whether you provide it or you find a conference out there, there are conferences and community classes that teach time management skills.
If you can find classes nearby or conferences your employees can attend, they can be helpful as well. (But remember, one and done often don’t stick. If you want what they learn from a conference to continue, it needs to be reinforced.)
If you have someone who is an excellent producer and manages their time well, you could have them mentor and guide others who don’t.
Encourage weekly or such meetings and let the mentor guide the mentee in learning better time management.
Create accountability/support groups
Similarly, if you have people who went to a conference or read the same books, or took the same courses, having them form a support/accountability group can help reinforce that behavior.
They can check on each other, encourage each other, and remind each other of the steps they can be implementing.
Measure their growth
If you can show how implementing these skills is improving their output, it encourages them to keep pushing forward.
If you have an employee who is lagging behind, showing how their work compares with others and how the growth hasn’t been happening can help encourage them to push forward.
Show appreciation! One great way to reinforce behavior is to show appreciation and notice the behaviors you want. When you appreciate the changes, growth, and implementation that you are looking for, you are more likely to see more of it.
Note: it does have to be genuine appreciation. People know when it is fake.
Encourage and enable employees to set time for personal growth each week
If you encourage and enable your employees to spend a couple of hours each week to learn while on the clock, you are much more likely to have employees who are growing in not only time management, but other skills that can make them more productive as well.
Have a culture that reinforces good time management behaviors
One reason many changes or requested behaviors don’t happen is that the culture doesn’t reinforce that behavior.
We say we want more collaboration, but if reward individual performance above it, that is what we will get. If we say customer first but reward and push and drive for numbers, numbers over customer care is what we will get.
Make sure your culture and rewards reward and reinforce the behaviors you want.
Some Steps and Principles of Time Management Your Employees Need to Know
In this section, we discuss some important principles and steps that are important for your employees to know.
Teach and ensure they know the 2 keys to time management
The two keys to time management are:
- Know what is important
- Do what is important
These may seem incredibly simple, but so many people don’t know what is important, and if they do know, they don’t do it (for a variety of reasons).
And without understanding these keys, without implementing them, it doesn’t matter what other time management tips you follow, you will fail.
We’ll discuss some steps for this in later principles/steps, but you will want to:
- Make sure your employees know what is important for their job.
- Help them see the importance of knowing what is important day to day and week to week.
- Give them the tools/knowledge/ability to focus and do what is important (sometimes, employees get so much busy work they feel they don’t have time for what is actually important).
Share with them the importance of constant growth (and help them do it)
The more your employees learn and grow, the more productive they will be. It will not only benefit them but the organization as a whole.
When they know what is most important for their job, they can focus on learning areas that will help them improve in those areas. When they examine their bottlenecks, what slows them down, then they can work to overcome those bottlenecks.
As a leader, you can teach and encourage this behavior and provide the time and resources to do so.
Teach the importance of prioritization
Prioritization and planning (the next section) go hand in hand.
It’s important to take time, examine your tasks and projects, and prioritize what is most important. If you don’t take the time to do this, you are likely to spend time on the tasks that aren’t.
Teach your employees from day to day (and even week or month, depending) to prioritize what is important and then focus their day starting on what is most important.
It’s hard to prioritize without planning.
Encourage (and provide time, if needed) your employees to plan their next day the day before. Plan out what tasks they have to do and prioritize what is most important.
That way, when they get to work the next day, they can start immediately on their important tasks.
If you don’t plan ahead, you then have to figure out on the spot what is most important and what is not. It’s harder at the moment to see the big picture to see what is most important. It then becomes easier to do less important tasks or to piddle, and you end up not being as productive.
It also can be helpful for your employees (and you!) to plan for the week or even month. You may not know day-to-day the tasks you will have, but you can look at the big picture and see what will be most important for that month/week.
Also, planning doesn’t kill spontaneity – it helps it. When something pops up and you know what is important for that week and day, you can compare that task or project that popped up with what is important and see if it needs to be done now or later.
Planning allows you to be spontaneous even better.
Teach your employees the helpfulness of chunking and batching
When you chunk your tasks, you group all similar tasks together and batch them – you do them all at the same time.
You may have a set time for your emails, to go over reports, to do phone calls.. whatever it may be. This saves you (and your employees) time by avoiding switching costs.
When you switch from type of task to type of task it costs you time not only in whatever you need to do to get ready for the task but also in refocusing.
When you do all you need to do at one time a certain task, it helps you stay focused and you don’t have to switch back and forth for things.
Encourage and enable blocked periods of focused time
Constant switching and distractions keep your employees from being focused.
Encouraging and allowing blocks of time to work on different tasks (uninterrupted when they can be) will help your employees be more focused and productive.
Teach the importance of breaks
I know from experience that it is easy to keep trying to work and work and move forward without taking a break.
- When you get stuck on a problem or situation, it’s easy to want to keep pushing on it to try to figure it out. Unfortunately, though, that is often counterintuitive.
- When we take consistent breaks, it refreshes our minds and can help us focus better while working. When we are stuck on a problem, often the best step to take is to step away, take a walk, or do something else.
- When we step back, our subconscious works on it and, when we get back to it, we often can see the problems from a different perspective.
Help your employees understand the importance of breaks and also allow them the opportunity to do so.
Encourage the importance of health
The more healthy your employees are, the more focused and productive they will be.
A good night’s sleep, good nutrition, and exercise will give your employees more energy, focus, and creativity, and help them be more productive.
Not only encourage it but reinforce it in the ways you can, if able.
- For example the snacks you may provide for employees. Are they healthy or junky?
- Are you able to provide discounted gym memberships or is there a gym you can partner with somehow?
- Is it possible for you not only to encourage it but help provide opportunities for better health for your employees?
Teach the importance of managing energy
While time management is important, so is managing energy.
It’s important for you and your employees to know how your energy fluctuates during the day and what helps it and what diminishes it.
- If certain tasks drain you and your energy, it’s often best to wait till the end of the day for those tasks (if possible).
- If you know you are more energetic and creative in the morning, you may want to do your more creative tasks then.
- If you know what boosts you, when you start feeling drained, you can then work to boost your energy.
When your employees know how to manage their energy, it will help them.
Teach Effective email/phone use
This will depend on the job, but the more your employees can turn off notifications and set specific times to check email and phone, the more effective they will be.
Also, learning how to write short, effective emails and using subject lines effectively can benefit everyone’s time.
Teach the importance of measurement (and how to do it)
It’s a good idea for your employees to measure what is important for them and their job.
When they measure, they can compare themselves to themselves, see how well they are doing, and work to improve day to day and week to week.
Teach (and help) your employees deal with distractions
There can be many distractions in the workplace, and different distractions affect each person differently. Whatever distracts your employees, help them and let them (when possible) deal with those effectively.
- If noise is a distraction, headphones are a solution.
- If constant visitors happen, do not disturb signs and other steps can be implemented to help.
- If notifications from email, the phone, etc. are a distraction (and they often are, even if we don’t realize it), having these turned off and having set times to check them can be helpful
Whatever the distraction, helping your employees recognize and working with them to overcome these distractions can be a big boost to their time management and productivity.
How to teach your employees better time management – The Conclusion
Time management is important for your organization and you as a leader because the better your employees manage their time, the more productive they will be, and faster and better you will meet your goals and mission.
I hope these time management tips for employees and ideas were helpful to you. If you have any questions, ideas, or suggestions, please email me or let me know in the comments below.
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