For organizations that track time, there’s always going to be some resistance—or at least questions about it. Even if nobody says it out loud, I’ll bet your employees are at least wondering: “Why on earth is my company making me track time?”
It’s easy to feel like tracking time is a way for leadership to keep an eye on the rank and file. But that’s far from the truth—leaders are busy people. And remember, if you’re tracking your time, your managers probably are too.
Time tracking isn’t about keeping an eye on teams’ productivity as much as it is a smart business move. Think about it: Time tracking yields data that is critical for monitoring business and employee performance. Timesheet data provides businesses with the ability to not only benchmark, but even more importantly, to forecast. Time tracking data surfaces project cost, project profitability, employee availability, employee cost, and so much more.
Whether you’re a project team member wondering “why on earth…?” or a manager who needs to answer this question—here are some ways to talk about time tracking that will get your teams to understand, and feel good about starting their timers.
For projects, time tracking is important because it:
- Surfaces key operational metrics that might otherwise remain hidden.
- Allows businesses to measure the true costs of any project.
- Offers real-time visibility into work that’s been done and work that’s left to do.
- Helps companies stick to timeline or project budgets.
- Enables managers to understand employee utilization and capacity—and allocate accordingly.
- Creates a historical record, enabling you to estimate future projects with greater accuracy.
- Can save you money especially when working on a retainer basis. Time tracking is critical for preventing over-servicing.
- Helps answer the question: “Can my team take on this new initiative?”
- Allows for continual processes evaluation and improvement.
For employees, time tracking is important because it:
- Gives insight into how much time is going into different tasks and projects.
- Yields data that can be used to ask for more resources, a raise, even a promotion.
- Fosters autonomy.
- Helps keep track of remote or freelance workers.
- Provides insight into what an ideal work process looks like.
- Helps stay in a productivity flow and limit interruptions.
- Empowers employees to use their own data for goal setting and/or decision-making.
- Provides data that can be used to reward employees who meet or exceed project deadlines, budgets, and goals.
- It keeps employees from being overscheduled and overworked—which improves engagement, boosts morale and increases productivity.
Let your employees in
Time tracking comes alive when teams feel like they play an integral part of the work being accomplished. So, if you’re a team leader or a manager, provide knowledge. This means letting your team in on the story of why everyone’s doing the work they’re doing: what the purpose is and how a particular project moves the business forward. Address what’s in it for them and their career, too. Empower individuals—give each person the right amount of autonomy to make decisions, so team members feel like they’re contributing to the momentum of this larger story. Make people feel that they’re a key to success. Once team members feel like they’re part of things, they can begin to understand the value of tracking time—because it will matter to them as well.
Time tracking is a common project management challenge. Want solutions to more? Download our eBook, How to Solve the Top 9 Project Management Challenges.