Implementing time tracking can prove to be an invaluable tool for any marketing or creative services department. It can provide critical insights about your operation, allowing you to prioritize projects more effectively and optimize your internal processes. But that’s probably not how the members of your team will see it. Many employees find time tracking off-putting for a number of reasons. It can feel like the company is putting them under surveillance, micromanaging their efforts, and reducing their work to a set number of hours without accounting for quality. But as intrusive as time tracking can appear on the surface, it can actually be a tremendous benefit for your employees. To get your team on board with the idea, you’ll have to communicate those benefits effectively. Here are some tips on how to sell time tracking to your team.
Focus on what matters
First and foremost, you need to establish that you are not Big Brother, and time tracking is not being implemented as some kind of punishment. It’s meant to be a tool that management can use to improve operations and make life easier for the entire team. Namely, it can help ensure that your marketing team is always working on projects that will have the biggest impact.
To measure the ROI of a marketing project, you need to know all of your hard and soft costs. Time tracking gives you an accurate measurement of your labor costs. So, when you go back and look at both successful and unsuccessful projects, you can begin to see where you should be concentrating your team’s efforts. For projects that get out of scope, you can see where you were wasting time and energy, and make better decisions in the future.
Essentially, time tracking provides the information you need to allocate resources appropriately and make sure you’re doing the work that matters most. For employees who want to make an impact, this can be a welcome benefit of time tracking.
Time tracking can provide more immediate benefits for team members as well. If your team is accurately recording their time, you can get better estimates for the time it takes to complete certain tasks. You can then use that information to schedule and assign projects based on each employee’s individual workload. When managers can see who has available capacity and who already has their plate full, they can make sure no one gets overburdened, which should be welcome news for your team.
Some frontline employees resist time tracking because they assume management already has an idea about how long tasks should take, and they will now be required to fit their work to those preconceived notions, discounting quality and unique project circumstances. But if you’re using time tracking correctly, the exact opposite is true.
Instead of limiting time spent on tasks based on what management has predetermined to be most profitable, you can see how long it actually takes your employees to do their best work. You can then factor that into your scheduling, ensuring employees always have the time they need. This should be a welcome change for any team member who has ever felt rushed in their work. The key here is to encourage employees to be honest about the time it takes them to complete certain tasks. Time tracking is only truly useful when the underlying data is accurate.
Time tracking can also help you make hiring decisions. You can look at the data and pinpoint where your team lacks the necessary human resources it needs to operate most efficiently. For example, if designers are spending time on video work, or writers are spending time editing because there’s a need there, it can help you make the case for additional resources. Hiring the right people and allowing team members to focus on the tasks that best match their skill set is yet another positive outcome of time tracking.
Having the conversation
Change management best practices dictate that any significant change is best communicated in a dialogue format, not a top-down directive. That is, your employees shouldn’t learn about the change in an email or company-wide memo. Instead, you should announce the change in a collective setting (like a staff meeting) when everyone is present.
After communicating how time tracking will work and your reasons for making the change, you should open up the discussion for questions or comments. This builds trust, alleviates concerns and makes employees feel like they are part of the process. You should also make it clear that you will be available to field concerns in a one-on-one setting as well. Creating this space for conversation is crucial for getting your team on board.
Time tracking will almost always be met with some level of resistance or hesitation from frontline employees. But by effectively explaining how time tracking will enable your team to have a bigger impact, keep workloads in check and improve overall efficiency, you can get the buy-in you need for a successful implementation.
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