Tips for Teaching Time Management

Time management is a problem for many people, but it seems to be a bigger problem in small businesses which includes many kitchen and bath dealers. Most dealer/owners have to handle the multiple tasks of designing, selling, managing human resources and developing a financial strategy. Many are also poor delegators. Because they're poor time managers, many dealers don't or aren't able to coach and mentor their employees to be good time managers. Time management can be a very real problem.

I consider myself to be a fairly good time manager. I wasn't always, though. I read several books and articles on the subject, made a commitment to become better and, over the years, I've trained myself to be good at it.

I recently came across a great little book a whopping 115 pages that took me less than two hours to read that I wanted to share with you. This brief but terrific read, The On Time, On Target Manager, was written by Ken Blanchard and Steve Gottry. The book is written for "all who want to take charge of their lives and become everything they want to be." Might that be you?

It's no secret that competition is tough and getting tougher. There's always someone who's going to do everything he possibly can to out-design, out-display, out-sell, out-install, out-service, out-price and out-hustle you and your business. By becoming better in time management, you will have a much better chance of being the "winner."

The authors suggest that "procrastination" can destroy careers, organizations, marriages, families, relationships, fortunes and even entire lives. How many times have you been late with a drawing or quote? How about late for an appointment? Procrastination or delaying an action can lead to poor and hurried decisions and poor performance. This affects revenues, wages, advancement, morale and even stress.

The hero of the book is "Bob, the manager." He suffers from lateness, poor work quality and stress that results from procrastination. Dave, the boss, has put Bob on probation. He's told him he has to become a better on-time, on-target manager. Dave tells Bob that he looks for two main things in employees: character and performance. While Bob is a person of great character, he's falling short on performance.

Determining Priorities
Bob is introduced to the company's new CEO (Chief Effectiveness Officer). As expected, Bob is late for his first meeting with the CEO. She explains to Bob that he's going to be introduced to the "Three P Strategy."

The CEO tells Bob that the company has invested a lot in him during his seven years of employment. She says the company is committed to long-term goals and that "the company can only secure its future by meeting its customers' needs; by enlisting the support of its vendors; by treating one another with respect, fairness and honesty; and by building an internal team of 'on-time achievers.' " They don't want any last-minute managers or employees.

The first P of the Three P Strategy is Priority. Every employee has to understand his priorities. Bob is sent home with some homework. He is asked to rank several business and personal priorities in order of importance to him things such as health and fitness, faith and spiritual life, career, spouse and/or family, friends, education/knowledge and recreation/sports. How would you rank them in order of importance to you?

Next he was asked to rank several events as priorities in his life today. This was another tough list.

Then he had to find his Webster's dictionary and look up the meaning of pri-ority: 1) being earlier or more important, precedence in rank or order, the right to be first; 2) something that is more important than other items of consideration. By the way, there is no correct ranking since priorities continually change.

The CEO tells Bob there are three fatal traits of last-minute people:

  • Procrastinators delay taking action regarding their priorities. They keep busy, but often on the wrong things. They put off action on important things and, as a result, the high priority items are often delayed.
  • Even when they do get to the point of establishing priorities, procrastinators jump from one task to another, believing that it's important to keep all the balls in the air at the same time. This causes too many loose ends and becomes a quality of work problem.
  • Procrastinators cause stress for themselves and others.
    The CEO then showed four categories of daily activity:
  • The things we want to do and have to do.
  • The things we have to do but don't want to do.
  • The things we want to do but don't have to do.
  • The things we don't want to do and don't have to do.

Too many people actually perform tasks that should be listed in the last category because they haven't prioritized them. One of the most important positions in any emergency room of a hospital is the triage nurse. He/she has to evaluate and prioritize which patients will be cared for first. Managers and employees need to triage their long list of activities and make sure that what's important gets the immediate attention. This helps last-minute people overcome their lateness tendency.

Doing what's right
The second P in the Three P Strategy is Propriety. Again, Webster's tells us this has three components: 1) "the quality or state of being proper or suitable," 2) "correctness of behavior or morals," and 3) "conformity with accepted standards."

The CEO gives Bob some more homework to complete. He has to study the company's new "Bill of Rights" and determine where he stands up against the seven items included. They are:

  • Do the right thing.
  • Do it for the right reasons.
  • Do it with the right people.
  • Do it at the right time.
  • Do it in the right order.
  • Do it with intensity.
  • Do it for the right results.

The CEO tells Bob that it will take some time and practice for him to apply the new Priority Bill of Rights to all of his priorities on a consistent basis.

You've heard the old saying "two wrongs don't make a right." Well, in this case, "two rights don't make a wrong." No matter what decision is facing you, if you can apply two or more of the "rights" from the Bill of Rights to the situation, you'll seldom go wrong. And, the more rights you can bring to the situation, the better the outcome will be.

Look for the conclusion of this book report in my next column.

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