The Clock Watching Conundrum

8-1013tm-cart-businessI read a Fortune article today titled: Fantasy football could cost businesses $13.4 billion a season– the article cited a study that 18 million fantasy football players spend two hours per workweek managing their make-believe teams.  My question is, if employers could somehow figure out a way to block their employees from playing fantasy football at work, do they really believe that the employer will really get that two more hours of productivity from those employees?  I’m sure that some do!

The Reality

It’s funny to hear managers talk about how much time their employees waste gossiping, doing personal emails, fantasy football, etc…, funny because the managers are wasting as much time complaining about others wasting time as the employees they complain about.  Good managers know that time is a poor target to manage when it comes to getting high productivity out of an employee.  I am fairly confident that most managers would agree with me that there are a number (a bunch) of employees that are more focused on the time they spend at work than they are what they accomplish during the time they spend – clock punchers.  My suggestion for those managers is STOP!  Remember that time is what we use to determine pay, not productivity (in most cases).  It’s a funny thing to see eight hours get the same productivity as seven and a half.  When managers focus on time and I see it all of the time!

Managing Performance NOT Time

Rather than managing time, focus your time on output or targeted productivity.  Make sure you set reasonable goals for your employees, equip them with the resources and training they need and then manage to the goal.  If the employee doesn’t achieve their goal in the time allotted, then and only then look at how they are spending their time.  If they get their goal with enough time to spare that they can layout their fantasy football line up for the week, then adjust their goal, but be smart in how you do it.  Make sure that your employees understand that YOUR goal is not to ensure that you get a full eight hours of worth of work out of them, but is instead that you get the most productivity out of the time they spend at work.  If that means they spend 15 minutes making a player trade with one of their league members, so be it.  My bet is that little break could actually improve the overall productivity of that employee in both the short and long run.

So the next time you feel compelled to ride an employee for wasting time, STOP and remember that your objective is high productivity (goal) and time management is only one aspect of that equation and often times “wasting” time can help your employees reach the productivity that you seek.  If you nickel and dime your employees, they are going to nickel and dime you.  A little leeway to be successful without being micromanaged by a clock-watching manager can be a wonderful thing!

Managing to outcomes is really pretty simple, just not always easy!

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