How to Maximize Your Team’s Time Management Skills

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Amir Salihefendić, Founder and CEO of Barcelona-based Doist, runs a fully remote business spread across 40 countries and oversees a team of 80 people. You would think her schedule would be filled with meetings, recordings and reviews. But in fact, it’s empty.

It seems counterintuitive. How does he keep the business running smoothly? And make sure everyone is on the same page?

“At Doist, meetings are kept to a minimum and 90% of all communication is asynchronous,” he said. “This allows employees to focus on ‘deep work’ without being interrupted throughout their day with unproductive meetings or constant notifications from Slack, iOS, and email.” It’s unconventional, but his method is working – Doist has an employee retention rate of around 98%.

Time management leadership tips

  • Embrace flexibility
  • Establish communication limits
  • Define your goals
  • Guide employees in self-reflection
  • Be a responsive manager
  • Lead by example

There are plenty of ways to hack better time management – the Pomodoro technique, the bullet journal, and Cal Newport’s deep work strategy are just a few. For these systems to be effective, it is important to have a clear task list and to know how long each task will take. However, it shouldn’t all be up to the employee. Leadership sets a precedent – it’s crucial to develop a workplace that allows for downtime and doesn’t glorify 24/7 work.

“The leader’s job is to create and maintain the environment and culture to enable people to do their best,” said Salihefendić. “They need to make sure that the core values ​​are clear and that everyone is aligned and paddling in the same direction.”

Embrace flexibility

The 9 am to 5 pm workday is standard in many companies, but studies have shown that the eight-hour schedule is not that efficient. According to recent research, employees waste on average 40 percent of their working hours do nothing at all.

“Employees can actually do an incredible amount of work on a flexible schedule, and the wheels don’t come off when everyone’s not online at the same time,” said Patrick Lightbody, CEO and co-founder based in Portland, Oregon. founder of the Reclaim.ai calendar technology program. “Accept that people need flexibility in their schedules, both for work and for life. “

Support your team and help them make the most of their time by giving them a little more freedom to set their own rules. To make sure everything runs smoothly with flexible working hours, you still need to establish a few ground rules. Instead of measuring success by the hours a person has invested, focus on actual contributions.

“Accept that people need flexibility in their schedules, both for work and for life. “

“Some people are working until the deadline on something, while others have things ready to be submitted a few days before the deadline,” said Alexander De Ridder, co-founder and CTO of Engine at Houston-based AI INK edition. “If two people on the same team have these opposing approaches, just set the deadline and let each submit their contribution before the project deadline. As long as the project parameters are clearly defined and respected, the means to achieve them may differ.

More management adviceBack to the office? Employers need to be flexible to get the best talent.

Establish communication limits

Tech companies employ people all over the world, making it much more difficult to synchronize people’s schedules and organize meetings. As a manager, it’s important to set expectations for emails, Slack, and other messages – it streamlines team communication and doesn’t disrupt an employee’s workflow.

“People can respond on their schedule, wherever they are. They can spend their time doing their best and communicating when it makes sense, ”said Salihefendić.

The asynchronous communication method gives employees more autonomy. Rather than having team members participate in daily video calls to discuss their progress, have them share their accomplishments via email when contacted. Lightbody recommends removing rigid scheduling and instead setting four base hours per day, which gives employees more freedom to achieve their goals on their own terms.

“Let employees dictate their own schedules at work and in life outside of these core hours,” he said. “Set expectations with your employees that if someone receives a note, message, or meeting invitation outside of these core hours, they shouldn’t be required to respond until the next day’s core hours. “

Define your goals

One of the keys to achieving goals in a timely manner is transparency. When your team knows exactly what is expected of them, they will know when and how to get things done and meet deadlines.

Vague guidelines leave employees confused; too strict and it can be frustrating. Find a balance between the two ends of the spectrum and learn to prioritize. It’s hard to absorb a lot of new information at once, be clear with three to five priorities, and allow your team to develop their own strategy to achieve them.

“’Writing documents for a new feature’ is probably too granular, and ‘building a great product’ is probably way too vague,” Lightbody said. “A better example is ‘launch new feature X’, which is a defined goal with a clear ending. Focus on aligning with the priorities and guiding all of your discussions around that. “

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Guide employees in self-reflection

Each person has their own needs and working styles. Help your employees find out how they work best and help them develop their own ways of managing time. This will ensure that everyone on your team can perform at their best.

At Doist, Salihefendić recently introduced a time management quiz designed to help employees understand what they need to be most productive.

“The results clearly indicate which productivity method works best based on your strengths, challenges and unique goals, then offer useful information and advice to better suit your work style,” he said. -he declares.

Help your employees discover how they work best and help them build their own time management methods

Ask employees questions about how they like to organize their days: do you tend to work better in the morning or in the evening? Are frequent one-on-one interviews helpful or fun? Would you prefer that we register via email, Slack, or in person? These clarifying questions help you better support your employees and team members to get to know each other better.

Be a responsive manager

Want to make sure your team is productive and happy? The first step is to ask for honest feedback.

“Listen to your employees,” Salihefendić said. “Rate people differently based on their results and outcomes, not how responsive they are or whether they’re online all the time. “

Don’t wait for your employees to provide feedback; look for it. Unsurprisingly, people are sometimes afraid to raise issues with their managers because they are not sure what response they will get. When a teammate feels like their time is not being well managed, they may not feel like they can talk about it, which sets the stage for burnout down the road. It’s also important to give your team permission to disagree with you and say no to things.

“Rate people differently based on their results and outcomes, not how responsive they are or whether they’re online all the time. “

“In previous lives, when I managed large distributed teams of product people, we would literally sit down and go over their schedules together,” Lightbody said. “The idea wasn’t to micromanage or be pushy, but really to ask questions like ‘Do you really have to go to this meeting?’ or “What is the cost of not doing this thing?” “”

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Lead by example

Managers and team leaders have dozens of tasks on their plate at once. Of course, this can sometimes mean longer working hours. However, don’t sacrifice your work-life balance, it will exhaust you and your employees will feel pressured to follow in your footsteps.

“I schedule meetings for 20 minutes, come with a clear agenda, and end meetings on time. It shows respect for my team and their time.

Even if you need to catch up on after-hours emails, schedule them to go out during working hours. You may feel like being a manager means being in work mode all the time, but knowing when to step away from the computer will be good for your team’s productivity and morale.

“I think the best way is to lead by example,” De Ridder said. “I schedule meetings for 20 minutes, come with a clear agenda, and end meetings on time. It shows respect for my team and their time.

Every leader must learn the value of a healthy work-life balance. For Lightbody, this revelation took him by surprise. Originally planning to establish an office in Portland, the COVID-19 pandemic and the hub to remote working forced his team to completely restructure their work schedules. It also meant looking at productivity and time management differently. The circumstances weren’t ideal, but Lightbody says the changes have been overwhelmingly positive.

“We have built processes and policies that have given us all a lot more flexibility in our work and our lives, which has led to happier and more productive people,” he said. “On a personal level, although Zoom school was painful, I was extremely grateful for the time I spent with my three young children. I would have missed a lot of things because of business travel and office time.

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