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Managers and Time
A recent seminar in Budapest on the management of time in business concluded that senior managers are not always using their working time efficiently. Managers know that they can replace old or obsolete equipment and that people who leave a company can be replaced. But lost time can never be replaced. So managers must learn to manage time - their own time and the time of other people in the company - more carefully.
One speaker at the three-day seminar, Dr Jaroslav Lentzer of the Prague-based International Management Forum, claimed that some companies were spending over 40% of time on tasks which were urfnecessary or which could be completed in less time. He gave the example of one company in the service sector where office staff spent over half the working day socialising with each other or at "meetings" which had no practical purpose.
"Time", said Dr Lentzer, "is one of the most important resources a manager has. Most companies know what time their workers arrive in the morning and go home at night. But very few companies know how much time their employees spend on useful work."
He told delegates that effective time management must begin with a study of how a manager uses his or her time at the moment. He gave the example of a Canadian bank which issues each manager with a log¬book where they record daily activities. Managers are told to write down everything they do during the working day, including apparently trivial tasks like
taking phone messages for colleagues. Managers do this for a four week period. Then the completed log¬book is sent to a time management consultant who carefully examines the information. This helps the bank to decide how effectively each manager is using his time.
Dr Lentzer thinks that if more companies use this approach they will improve productivity and become more competitive. He says that each manager should answer the following four questions:
* Am I spending enough time on essential tasks?
* How much time do I waste each day on trivial or unnecessary work?
* How much work can I delegate to other people in my department?
* Do I give a specific amount of time to certain tasks ¬an hour for a meeting, for example - and stick to it?
The next stage is to draw up a "time-plan". Dr Lentzer says that managers should spend at least two weeks on the first stage of the plan. "Make sure your colleagues know about the changes," he says. "And more importantly, make sure they know why the plan is necessary. Remember not to cut out minor but necessary tasks like looking through the business press or talking to colleagues."
Don´t let the plan become too restrictive. It should still be flexible enough to allow you to make any changes necessary. Maybe you´ll find you need more time to talk to customers or to deal with personnel problems.
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working day on the phone final week reviewing
once or twice useful advice most efficient spend
The … of your time-plan, says Dr Lentzer, should be spent … the first three weeks and assessing how useful the changes have been. And he has some … to give to managers. Try to deal with important business at the beginning of your … and leave minor things until the end. Encourage colleagues to change their working habits to make the … use of their time. Cut down the amount of time you spend … . Make a note of what you are going to say before you make your call. … some time … a month making sure that your time-plan is working.