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Shop Management 101: The Tactical Use of Time

(February/March 2018) posted on Tue Mar 13, 2018

What if your team had more hours in a day to concentrate on their roles in getting quality products out the door?

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By Marshall Atkinson

One consistent challenge that every shop faces is the effective use of time. It’s a resource – maybe the most important one you have – but that doesn’t mean it’s being spent wisely.

Throughout your shop, your staff may appear to be busy, but are they working effectively on things that matter? Any time they spend on tasks that aren’t a priority or that involve redoing work that wasn’t done correctly isn’t helping your bottom line.

Establish Expectations
It’s great to have long-term goals such as how much revenue you want to bring in this quarter. Hopefully, you established that before the quarter started and have mechanisms in place to achieve that number.

That’s not what we are discussing here. We are talking about today. Does every single worker in your shop know exactly what is expected of them today? (Stop laughing; I’m serious.) It should be mapped out, with a schedule or list that has been prioritized to put “first things first.” I’m not just talking about your production teams: This goes for sales and customer service, purchasing, invoicing, and your creative group. Even you.

If you want to be more successful this year, then build and implement a tactical strategy for how you use time in your company. This means that for each employee or work group, there is a predefined set of instructions or priorities that they use to map out their day, instead of just working on whatever they happen to get to. That’s the “you get what you get” strategy.

Instead, set expectations for each staff member, ideally based on a customized set of predetermined rules. Every department works differently. Each team member in those departments has different tasks, skills, and abilities. Create a framework where they always know what they should be doing, eliminating the “busy being busy” type of work. Look for software or an app that can help automate the process of setting your staff’s daily goals.

Here’s what you are shooting for: Take someone who has 10 things to do today. Make sure they know what those 10 things are. Help them do 18 in the same amount of time.


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