Managing Time and Productivity

Daily leaders must address the delicate balance of managing time and productivity. For instance, this is a great article Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey originally published in the Harvard Business Review in its November-December 1974 issue and reissued as a Classic in the November-December 1999 issue. The authors are William Oncken, Jr. and Donald L. Wass.

In particular, the primary question asked: “Why is it that managers are typically running out of time while their subordinates are typically running out of work?”

It is important to focus on managing time and productivity. Consider the following 3 types of management time. First, the boss-imposed time of required activities that cannot be ignored. Second, system-imposed time from peers. Third, self-imposed time that includes discretionary time and subordinate imposed time. The 1st two types of management time cannot be ignored without a penalty of some sort. To increase discretionary time then, focus on reducing the subordinate-imposed time. This is one way to get better control of overall time.

The metaphor monkey-on-the-back means subordinate-imposed time and what the manager can do about it. When offering to help someone on the team, be sure you are not taking over the responsibility. It happens so quickly and the next thing you know, the monkey is on your back.

Assertive managers are responsible for removing the monkeys. Meet with each of your team members and address each monkey that has been on their back. Otherwise, in accepting the monkey, the manager has voluntarily assumed a position subordinate to his subordinate.

Each of us have 168 hours each week at our disposal. Learn to minimize distractions, to prioritize, to say no and to understand where your time goes. Consider analyzing your time.

In conclusion, treat time as if it were real currency. Good luck!