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Using Time Accounting to Create a Culture of Accountability

If you own a company or manage a team of employees, you understand the challenges of motivating staff and establishing a culture of accountability and an understanding of objectives and goals. The best managers and leaders know that you cannot intimidate an employee into good performance, nor can you force them to care enough about delivering excellence and work productively.

While you may not consider a time reporting system to be a motivator, it can be used to identify where employees are spending their time; how much revenue they are generating; whether their time is billable or non-billable; and hence their value to the company. You are not necessarily looking for an employee to work more hours. What you want is for them to be aware of their focus and how it impacts the bottom line. You want them to work smarter and, if you are managing a billable environment, to focus on value-added activities that will generate revenue for the company.

If you manage a group or team without using a time accounting system you are operating blindly or, at best, using an honour system. That may work well for a certain percentage of your employees but it will certainly cost you money in the long run. Even the most honest employee who wants to do a good job can find themselves spending time on things that are not top priority. When a manager reviews time and approves a time sheet, it provides an opportunity to see where the employee is focused, and to make a real time correction if necessary.

These time and expense systems can also provide a rich management tool for planning and scheduling – to determine if and when to add staff, what skills you will need to source and where the staff will have the greatest impact. If you want to keep your clients and employees happy, it is important to understand when your company or project growth has exceeded the resources. You certainly want your employees to establish goals and objectives and to spend their time on the tasks that will accomplish those goals. But you also want to keep your best people. If your skilled staff is working 60-70 hours a week in order to meet their goals, you probably want to consider hiring more resources before you lose the valuable staff skills you already have.

Time management tools allow you to see trends and to create historical reports to help you manage your business and to help your leaders to better understand where staff hours are spent, using effective tools that produce accurate results and metrics. If you take the subjectivity of out of your business management and provide insight to managers and employees alike, you are likely to achieve your business goals more quickly and make staffing and pricing decisions more confidently. Furthermore, your employees will be held accountable for their time and their ability to prioritize and it will be easier to complete performance evaluations at year end.

About the Author

Palantir, author alias for Susan Obijiski, is a technology professional, consultant, business coach and writer. Her experience includes management consulting, and she has published research for Gartner Group. Susan is a frequent speaker and presenter on a variety of topics including software and technology, business strategy, process improvement and organizational culture change.

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