Time Management learn to Work Smarter

user John A G Smith



Time Management learn to Work Smarter

“If I want the job done properly then I have to do it myself.”

How often have you heard that one … probably said by a manager, frustrated by the lack of expertise of some staff member?

Canadian soldiers peeling potatoes - Canadian Official War Photographs

Image courtesey of Wikimedia Commons

Why, you may wonder, has the worker not got the expertise? Why must the harassed manager carry so much of the burden?

Several years ago I was working for a major international financial organisation when they offered a Time Management course for senior executives. All agreed the course would probably be useful. But attendance was optional and when the day arrived only four, of over forty, of these senior people turned up. The reason? Go on, you know already, don’t you? Yes, they couldn’t spare the time to attend!

Why are staff at all levels – from the most junior to the most senior – so ‘time poor’ in today’s business environment?

Where, it appears, too many people seem to be taking on an inordinate workload … and not handling it well. Could it be that, to use a common modern phrase, rather than working harder they need to work smarter?


One of the issues may be down to ‘delegation’ and, closely related to that, ‘skill set’. Many managers have arrived via the ‘been there, done it, got the tee-shirt’ route and this means that they have the skills to ‘do the job properly’. But how did they get those skills? They were not born with the ability to do the job and, in times gone by, many skills were acquired and honed over long years of apprenticeships or other forms of traineeship. In the modern business place much of this ‘official’ skill transfer has gone – often in the name of ‘efficiency’ or ‘cost saving’. This leaves delegation as one of the main way for workers to learn to ‘do the job properly’.

Many workers see delegation as the manager ‘dumping the rotten jobs’, work that he or she doesn’t want to do, onto the minions. And, of course, if the ‘minion’ has only a limited skill set then, often, they can only do the less ‘interesting’ work. So whilst it is true that a major part of delegation is to share the workload it is also about skills transfer: improving the worker’s skill set and thus, incidentally, career prospects. But this, in itself, creates another problem: if the worker does not have the skills to undertake any task delegated to them, then the manager will have to teach them and instead of saving the manager’s time – by passing on the task – it is actually increasing their personal workload by adding the role of trainer to the already overloaded schedule.

But this is a short term view because once the worker has got to the point where he or she can perform the task unsupervised then it can be truly delegated … now freeing up the manager’s time. Maybe the staff member can even become ‘the trainer’ and pass the skills on to the next generation!

Image courtesey of Wikimedia

Learn to ‘Work Smarter’

Further, many aspects of time management: often simple tricks and tips that aid efficiency, take a while to learn. It is not just the time spent on the course but for some skills (such as speed reading for example), time must also be spent subsequently on practice until they become instinctive and innate. This means the poor worker has another load of work dumped on his or her already sagging shoulders – learning to work smarter so that ultimately their workload, while not decreasing, will be dealt with more efficiently and effectively.

By that time, of course, they are likely to be so good at their job they may well have been promoted to the position of the manager who taught them the skills. So let’s hope they never forget the lessons of the time management course. Otherwise we may well hear them moaning:

“If I want the job done properly then I have to do it myself.”

If you want to learn to 'work smarter' Silicon Beach Training can help you. We provide training for everyone including managers old and new in Time Management and some more general skills on our Management Skills for New Managers course.

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