3 Vital Time Management Tips For HR Leaders
March 29, 2016
woman with watch

Are you managing your time well?

None of us ever have enough time to do everything we’d like to do. But with solid time management, we can get a lot more done than most people realize. Here are some of the best ways today’s human resources workers can harness our single most irreplaceable resource – time.

1.) Constantly Review Your Technology. Over the last few years, we’ve made tremendous strides in information technology and software development. Many mundane clerical processes that used to take hours to accomplish for a department or workplace can now be done in a few minutes, with the help of well-designed workflow software packages.

Fifteen years ago, employers were trying to make the ‘paperless office’ a reality. With today’s software, we’ve gone way past that. It’s not a matter of storing PDFs on a hard drive somewhere. We’re now streamlining and automating even that process. Here’s an example: If you’ve had to chase people down for signatures on important documents, you can probably eliminate that particular task. E-signatures are now legally binding in nearly all contests, and automating the process of document review and signing is already saving incredible amounts of time and money in workplaces across the United States in nearly every industry.

Every year or so, take some time to review the HR management technology available. In many cases, this technology more than pays for itself in terms of time and man-hours saved.

Just as importantly, it frees up HR workers from mundane, clerical tasks and allows them to focus on higher functioning activities. Instead of working with documents, HR workers can now spend their days working with and developing people, and recruiting and retaining talent.

Those skills and those activities inevitably command higher salaries for the HR worker than clerical work does. And it’s worth it.

2.) Delegate. This is difficult for new managers to do. They want to be the expert, and they want to be the boss. But HR is no different than other endeavors in this regard: Managers work through the efforts of the employees in their charge. And through this process of delegation, you are developing talent. When you give junior employees a football to run with, you make them better players for it. Indeed, you are training your own replacement.

Just know your workers and their capabilities. Don’t give them a task they can’t handle, but give them tasks that will stretch them – and be there to mentor and coach them without telling them how to suck the egg.

The result: Your staff will get better and better over time, and able to handle more and more issues at their level. And that means more time for you as an HR manager to handle higher level tasks, and generate value for your company.

That’s good for your salary and prospects – as well as for every one else in the company.

3.) Learn the One-third/Two-thirds rule of time management. This important principal of time management is literally combat-tested and combat proven. Armies and navies around the world swear by it. It’s one of the most important concepts our own military drums into the heads of junior officers and officer trainees before they arrive at their units. Here’s how it works: If your department is in charge of a process that has to be implemented by anybody else – be it other departments within the company, or with lower-level echelons within your own company, then you must provide adequate time for these other organizations to do their own planning, preparation and implementation. Indeed, they need enough time to implement a time management plan of their own.

The rule of thumb: You should never take more than 1/3rd of the available time before the deadline to issue complete, comprehensive guidance to everyone who has to make it happen.

For example: You work at the headquarters of a sizable, national company, and your department is rolling out a new benefit or a new compliance requirement that is going to affect numerous other work sites around the country. You have district offices that have to digest the information, do their own planning and resourcing, and get the information out to line managers.

You have 90 days to complete the process.

From the word “go,” you have no more than 30 days to get your complete guidance out to all the district offices. That means they have a detailed memorandum of instruction and all the information resources they need to execute on their own.

That leaves them 60 days.

Your district office has not more than 20 days to get their information down to the line managers/store managers or office managers.

That leaves just 40 days for your line managers to get things ready, get everyone at their worksite signed up, execute the new requirement, get the documentation and reports back up the chain to the district and then shuffle them up to your level so you can monitor completion.

Your managers are going to need every bit of those 40 days. Why? Because they have to account for workers who are on vacation, sick leave and maternity leave. They have to get the enrollment meetings on the schedule and publicize the meetings in time for everyone to attend. They’ll have to round up stragglers. They’ll have to generate reports and update spreadsheets on their end, at their level. And, unlike you and the other HR workers, they don’t get to focus on this one thing. They have to implement the requirement alongside all the other demands, not just from you, but from the district managers, the sales and marketing folks, the OSHA requirements, hiring interviews, disciplinary meetings, and 1,000 small emergencies and distractions they have to manage every day.

Master the One-Third/Two-Thirds Rule (“One-Fourth/Three Fourths” works even better) and your whole organization should improve.

Pro-tip: Make sure your employees also give this a try. The whole point is to maximize the amount of available time for the people actually doing the heavy lifting to manage the process. Don’t let any unit of management be a time hog – or you will throw the people at the bottom end of the process into permanent crisis mode.

Super Pro-tip: Recruit managers and executives who understand time management and empower them to encourage great time management practices throughout the organization. Seeding your company with time management knowledge throughout the organization is an important part of the HR function.

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