Welcome to a new year, bringing the opportunity for self-improvement and growth!
We all think we’re a great leader - but the proof is in the pudding. So, we’ve brought together 5 New Years Resolutions or habits, that should be easy enough for you to incorporate into your daily routine to guide you to be a leader who not only pushes the needles but also fosters a work environment built on respect, autonomy, and empathy.
Step 1: Set SMART Goals
Ah, the New Year – a season for goal-setting and fresh starts! But it’s also historically a time for unrealistic goals… A high percentage of resolutions crash and burn by the second week of January! So what’s the secret? Setting realistic goals!
For leaders, this means helping your team prioritize their goals to ensure that they are achievable and aligned with the company’s overall objectives.
For team members, that means using the SMART goal-setting framework. SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
Let's break down each element of the SMART framework:
A specific goal is crystal clear and well-defined, answering the who, what, where, when, and why. So, instead of a vague target like 'increase sales,' think 'boost sales by 10% in the next quarter by targeting new customers.' Breaking down large goals into smaller, more manageable parts is a key strategy for achieving success. This allows individuals and teams to focus on attainable steps, build momentum, and track progress along the way.
A measurable goal can be tracked and quantified. It needs a clear metric for success, such as a percentage or number of units sold. Examples of metrics might include sales figures, customer satisfaction ratings, productivity levels, or completion rates of specific tasks. So, instead of an unmeasurable target like 'increase billable hours' think 'Increase billable hours by 10% in the next 6 months by tracking time in Timely.'
An achievable goal is realistic and within reach. It should challenging but not disheartening. An achievable goal might be to “increase blog traffic by 15% this month by posting a new blog every day.” An unachievable goal would be to “increase blog traffic by 500% this month”.
A relevant goal aligns with the overall objectives of the company. It should be important and meaningful to the team and contribute to the success of the company as a whole. So if the company’s key objective is to expand into new markets, setting a goal to increase social media followers may not be relevant.
A time-bound goal has a clear deadline. It should be completed within a specific timeframe, which helps to keep the team on track and focused. Instead of setting a general goal to ‘reduce time tracking admin’, a time-bound goal might be to ‘implement a new time tracking software by the end of the month’.
Time tracking can be a powerful tool to help people set and achieve realistic goals in the workplace. It helps you figure out how long tasks really take and understand your team’s capacity. Plus, it helps point out time drains and overcomitting!
Step 2: Track all your billable hours without privacy violations
Track your time
Tracking your team's time is like having a superhero utility belt for productivity. It helps you spot where the minutes go, understand workload capacities, identify productivity blockers, and ensure no one is overloading themselves with tasks. It's the secret sauce for creating a more efficient and balanced work environment.
Track time automatically or lose 20% of billable hours
According to a tribes.ai study, relying on manual time tracking methods can result in 1 in 5 billable hours slipping through the cracks and going unrecorded.
On the flip side, automatic time tracking software captures ALL your working time. It is a smarter, faster and more accurate alternative to Excel spreadsheets, paper timesheets and start/stop timers. By tracking time for you automatically, you can get back to work that’s actually productive.
But not so fast…
Nobody likes a creep.
A good boss empowers their teams to do their best work. They respect boundaries and trust their employees.
In stark contrast - an invasive time tracking system with screenshots or sneaky boss spying? That's the total opposite!
Constant monitoring can erode trust between employees and management, inciting an atmosphere of suspicion rather than collaboration and trust. It can result in employees feeling overly stressed or resorting to counterproductive work behavior, such as finding ways to appear busy rather than focusing on meaningful, value-driven tasks. But the real problem? It’s just unethical.
At Timely, we take your privacy seriously, and we're committed to delivering on our privacy promise. Trust is one of the foundations our business is built on, as such it is not a subject that we take lightly. Your data belongs to you (not the boss!) and it’s up to you what is shared, when. We’re committed to keeping it that way.
Step 3: Use the right tools
Decrease the number of tools you use
Streamlining your toolkit is more than just a productivity hack; it's a game-changer. Distractions and unnecessary meetings slow you down. The constant flow of information makes everything feel urgent, draining your actual productivity. It takes a whopping 23 minutes to refocus after each task switch, and just when you hit your stride, an unnecessary meeting pulls you out again. Your to-dos and documents get updated, but suddenly, the workday is over. Simplifying your tech stack helps overcome this with the added bonus of saving a couple of dollars each month from subscription fees!
Keep your tech stack integrated
Juggling multiple apps that don't sync seamlessly is a daily struggle. Asana estimates that a staggering 58% of the annual workday is squandered on meaningless admin.
Integrations reduce effort, and the risk of errors and save time by syncing data between your favourite tools. It helps streamline your workflow by being and means less mental energy spent on repetitive tasks - so you and your team can focus on what truly matters. It's all about reclaiming those precious minutes wasted on redundant admin work!
Timely gives you complete visibility into pockets of deep work and productivity or time drains like meetings and admin.
And naturally, Timely integrates with all your primary work tools: Asana, monday, ClickUp, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, calendar apps, and email…
Timely integrations solve the problem of time waste with a large tech stack. You know exactly what you worked on, for how long, and using which tool. And, as a business, you gain the missing time insights you need to make better time and labour forecasts.
ChatGPT is just the tip of the AI iceberg. There are a myriad of tools that can make your life easier and your time go further (including Timely!), from writing tools to website builders, meeting summarizers to code generators. AI can help automate mundane tasks like data entry or email management, but also drastically improve decision-making with data analysis and predictive analytics.
One key way AI can help is with time tracking. Time tracking is time-consuming in two ways: remembering what you’ve done, and then using that information to create a timesheet. Timely solves both problems: the Memory automatically captures your activity, and our AI categorizes your billable hours into projects and drafts timesheet entries for you - this can save managers and their teams hours.
Step 4: Encourage a healthy work-life balance
Timely is time tracking for Managers Who Give a Damn and Teams That Get the Job Done. So if your team prioritize results over speed, read ahead:
Efficient resource allocation is key to getting things done at a high quality and minimizing cleanup time. Before assigning projects, you have to understand your team's realistic capacity to avoid stretching them too thin. When juggling multiple projects, tasks, and team members, it feels impossible to gauge how everybody is working. But, avoiding overwork and burnout is paramount. Timely offers a comprehensive toolkit for easy resource allocation in project management. The people dashboard centralizes capacity, overtime, and planned work management, optimizing resource utilization.
It’s 2024, your employees have a life outside of work, and granting them flexibility for effective time management will not only boost motivation and happiness, but also optimize productivity. It’s a win-win!
Remote positions often offer more flexibility allowing their workers to work the hours they wish so long as their work gets done! This approach often results in better outcomes as employees can work in their optimal concentration periods and they feel more motivated. It can lead employees to focus on what really matters - their work and their performance! Not to mention, offering flexible roles will attract more talent, motivate workers and reduce staff turnover – it’s all about boosting productivity without adding any stress.
Lead with respect, never intimidation
It all comes down to this: a positive and supportive work environment means happy workers who do their best work. As a manager, it’s paramount to respect the diverse requirements and capabilities of each team member. That means respecting their strengths, weakness and working styles. The negative impact of workplace intimidation cannot be overstated, it not only damages individual’s wellbeing but also erodes team morale and overall productivity. Encourage open communication, provide opportunities for skill development and make sure your team empower each other. This, in turn, creates a dynamic and innovative environment where everyone feels motivated to contribute their best work - not pressured!
Step 5: Review and optimize
Looking back at what you and your team have accomplished in the past week or month is vital to keep you staying top of your game. They help you control work – rather than letting work control you. Pst… time tracking with Timely means having all this information at your fingertips in real time.
Think about how you worked last week. Did you find yourself getting sidetracked? Maybe, you spent a good 20 minutes scrolling through TikTok, or chatting with colleagues for half an hour, or you were pulled from a crucial task for a seemingly pointless meeting. All these are classic time wasters, sapping valuable time from your working day without adding any real value. Everybody gets distracted, and everybody needs a break during their day - it’s just about containing procrastination and time wasters. The first step to curb these distractions is knowing how you spend your time.
You can’t prioritize effectively unless you have a strong grasp of everything you need to get done. Instead of winging it and just doing the task that seems most urgent or recently landed, write down your to-do list. With time tracking data, you can review similar tasks and their durations, allowing you to estimate how much time each new tasks might take. Go a step further by setting realistic deadlines. Over time, using Timely to figure out exactly how long certain tasks to complete will help you make more accurate estimates!
Everybody knows what’s going on
Keeping tabs on how your work aligns with goals each week isn't just a personal perk – it's a win for your team too. When you're juggling several projects with multiple team members, being able to share progress is a game-changer. You don't need to host a weekly presentation, but giving your team a heads-up on where your work stands means they know what they’re working on and why.
The bigger picture
Chances are, you already ave yearly and quarterly goals. But, three, six or even 12 months can fly by. Setting goals at the beginning of the quarter, doesn’t guarantee a clear roadmap for achieving them. Having a constant eye on progress and resource allocation means making sure your short-term tasks are aligning with your long-term goals. Keeping you doing what’s valuable - not what’s more urgent.
10 Things a Good Manager Does: A Quick Checklist
If you want to be a good manager in 2024, make sure you:
- Track Time (privately!)
- Use a concise but integrated set of tools
- Prioritize work-life balance
- Value autonomy and flexibility
- Encourage open communication
- Set SMART Goals
- Recognize team wins
- Spot obstacles quickly and without blame
- Focus on the bigger picture
- Review and Optimize
Embrace these resolutions, integrate them into your daily routine and witness the positive transformation! Here’s to a year of growth and productivity!