Management nugget number 9

Nugget 9: Total time is not the same as work time.


it’s a well-known internet meme that managers will send an email in the middle of the night, then complain that their staff have not acted upon it by 7 a.m., That is time abuse on a basic scale. As a manager dealing with serious projects, you have to deal with this in a larger scale and ensure that you do not inflict it on your teams.

To explain this more, it’s best to realise that such time misuse can be compounded, it happens in multiple ways and in multiple situations, let’s look at some examples:

  • You assume that everybody is going to work 12 or 14 or 16 hours a day to hit a deliverable.
  • You assume weekends and holidays will be cancelled.
  • You assume that the thing that you need doing is the most important thing ever, and even if that is true, you assume that nothing bad or unavoidable can happen to people.
  • You assume that other work functions and other high priority items will not come up.
  • You don’t realise that some items cannot be run in parallel or that some cannot be done at certain times of day and you might have to wait.

All of these add up and stack one on another and you end up thinking, “oh we’ve got a week to do that, that’s tons of hours, that’s 100 hours”, not realising that it really is only 37 that you can rely on, and even then you might be wrong,

Now I know this sounds like just ordinary project planning, but it tends to show up the worst during crisis situations, the worst time period I find is problems that need solving between 1 and 2 weeks, and as the time for delivery gets closer, you will find you become more unreasonable, you end up counting the actual hours left to the deliverable rather than counting the usable hours.

So to summarise, even if it’s a disaster, even if it’s a crisis, even if according to your senior client it is the most important thing in the world, the world will not stop, every hour is not available for you to use, plan accordingly, be honest with yourself and don’t ruin your teams life. 

Disclaimer: As always these posts are not aimed at anyone client or employer and are just my personal observations over a lifetime of dealing with both management and frontline associates.

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