There are many reasons managers spend too many hours in the office. Some of the more common reasons are things such as disorganization, interruptions, poor planning and procrastination. Add a chaotic environment to this list and the result is a feeling of hopelessness. Managers can improve this seemingly hopeless situation by making a concerted effort to organize their paperwork, do away with backlogs and set up organized filing systems. By starting a system that requires immediate action as soon as something is touched or read, the result can be a smooth and uninterrupted file flow.
A weekly work plan also helps in the prioritizing of tasks and deciding upon upcoming commitments (Industry week, 1996). Many companies send their managers to training programs that include basic skills in meetings. By learning to facilitate successful meetings, a manager can keep inefficiency in meetings to a minimum. While there is no single way to determine that a meeting stays on track, each company might adopt its own strategy on how to alert people that they are straying off track (Kaderabek, 1994). According to a recent survey employees feel one of the most wasteful uses of time are disorganized meetings.
Consultants say that on the average, professionals spend fifteen to eighteen hours a week in meetings. Most of them will say that at least five of those hours are wasted. Every organization has to deal with ill-managed meetings, and there are several ways to combat this. Most organizations feel meetings are more important than they’ve ever been before. Employers are increasingly encouraging more teamwork than ever before and look for more decision-making from their employees. Instead of the pyramid structures of the past, employers are looking for more input from individual groups.
Problem solving on different levels is helping to increase productivity. While this can mean more employee satisfaction, it can also ultimately mean more meetings (Kaderabek, 1994). Many managers, when faced with meeting with the CEO of their organization, are reluctant to ask whether this is the most productive use of time. It is apparent many managers are even addicted to bad meetings. This is one of the biggest problems in the area of time management. While most people feel they communicate well they do not spend the time to either prepare or practice in the way they communicate with others.
Many little things that go wrong in a meeting can add up to a huge waste of time. If a meeting starts a little late, or runs a little bit longer than necessary, for instance, or when the subject gets a little off-course; all these things add up to make meetings inefficient. Another problem is having a meeting attended by the wrong people or having key people absent. Amazingly, sometimes there is no real reason for a meeting other than it is simply on the schedule (Kaderabek, 1994). More than time gets wasted in inefficient meetings. Most consultants agree there is a waste of good ideas, results and money.
When the salaries of those at the meeting table are added up there can be a tremendous use of company resources being used for one meeting. While time is being spent in meetings it could mean that a company is missing out on other opportunities such as sales or customer service. Well-planned meetings take preparation. The person organizing the meeting is responsible for seeing that the goal of the meeting is being met, the necessary people are gathered and the proper materials are provided. By preparing an adequate agenda and then keeping to the outline as the meeting progresses, things can move at an efficient pace.
It is up to the meeting facilitator to determine the meeting is staying on task and does not get off on a tangent. The key is remembering that all meetings need structure. This is not always easy for people to remember (Kaderabek, 1994). One company keeps an egg-timer on hand to remind itself to stay focused during a meeting. That may be a rather low-tech solution, but other companies are going to the other extreme. By using videoconferencing equipment almost every day, many companies allow employees to meet face to face even when offices are far apart.
E-mail, voice mail and the internet all combine to help spread information quickly and efficiently in organizations today (Kaderabek, 1994). Meetings may not be well planned due to procrastination. Procrastination is one of the major impediments to time management. All businesses are subject to the risk of poor time management and sometimes spur of the moment decisions must be made. While it is true that important business decisions should be carefully thought out, it is equally true that there are sometimes decisions, which must be made quickly in order to take advantage of opportunity (Bernstein, 1993).
Sometimes we must learn to act or react quickly before we have complete information. It could be that by the time all the information is available or at hand that it will then be too late for us to act. It is critical that we learn to be able to read the critical points at all times. Ignoring the time dimension to risk can lead to unsuccessful management. Because there is a time dimension to risk, that means that procrastination can inevitably transform business structure. Procrastination is not always the incorrect choice, but accepting procrastination means we are making assumptions about the future.
This may work in theory but is not always true in fact. Time can warp the outcomes of various probabilities as well. If we know that a certain event has a probability of sixty percent today, how can we know what that probability will be in six months? In a worse case scenario the passage of time may create outcomes that we cannot even visualize today. In fact, any given event may be completely irrelevant in six months (Bernstein, 1993). Thomas (1989) states “There are three generic factors that make companies nonresponsive: missed forecasts, lack of execution and changing requirements.
However, all three factors get worse as cycle time is extended. What business is trying to do is predict a need, execute to meet the prediction and attain execution cycle times that reduce the changes in customer requirements. The forecasting factor involves trying to predict what the customer or market wants. It applies equally to development and production situations. The shorter the cycle time between the moment of forecast and the event, the more accurate the forecast” (pp 116). A successful business has to develop strategic timing that allows a response to changing markets and competition.
The responsiveness of these processes is measured in cycle time, which is the time it takes to get something done. This includes the time it takes to manufacture a product, develop it, deliver a service, enter an order, obtain materials or even simply change the way almost anything in a company is done. As technology has improved and markets have changed it becomes increasingly obvious that products are reaching the marketplace with increasing frequency. It is essential therefore that time be well-managed in order to reduce the risk of losing business (Thomas, 1989).