How the Factor “Time” is Often Ignored in Management

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We all have experienced this. Overzealous managers introduce new processes and put new structure in place in order to improve the results of their department. I’m not opposed to processes and structure; well-defined processes that are properly explained, justified, and put in place such that the team is onboard with them can only improve the outcome of any team. You have to find the right balance, though. Too many or too rigid processes prohibit creativity and can reduce motivation. That can only have negative impact on your productivity.

One mistake easily made is missing ownership and accountability. If a task or process is owned by everyone, it is owned by no one and eventually will not get done or applied. Define a clear owner (which might be the manager themselves), and have that person follow up on the progress.
As an example, consider a document or spreadsheet that lists a company’s partner landscape with team members, strengths, capabilities, etc. Once that’s produced, you get celebrated for putting it in place and everybody is happy right then as it is a useful source if information across departments; until it literally expires and shows old information. It has now become useless. Factor time has not been accounted for, an owner had not been declared, it doesn’t get maintained, your manager does not demand an update. *Even though* people would need an up-to-date document, nobody demands it.

Too often do I see managers put a new process in place, or demand a new “habit” from their team, without taking time into consideration. It is not enough to announce something once and expect everyone to follow along and apply. If you want change, you have to repeat. It’s a human trait. People get sluggish over time. To modify a well-known Chinese proverb:

Tell me (once), and I will (most likely) forget. Show me (once or twice), and I may remember. Involve me (over time), and I will understand.

Set yourself a reminder for 1/3/6/12 months from now, or whatever makes sense in your case, to repeat the idea, process, structure you came up with, or to update the document you came up with, or, if you’re the manager, demand an update from your team members. It’s easy to do with today’s digital calendars. Ask Siri to help you, if that’s what it takes. Re-train the team. Re-mind them of what the purpose of a process was. Remind yourself. And evaluate the results of the new process, as time has passed. Only then will your work have an impact, and your employees will respect you for seeing progress after the process.

It’s easy, but often forgotten. It’s not enough to kick something off. Take it to the finish line, only then is your job done and you can move on to something else.