Most timesheets can hardly be considered accurate: they only give a rough idea about employees’ activities. Our recent study shows the time that usually doesn't show up in a timesheet.
First weeks at the new workplace is the time of new exciting tasks and responsibilities, but it’s also the time of getting started with the processes accepted in the company. It’s not surprising that new hires tend to face productivity, performance and time management problems – regardless of their background and previous experience:
- Young workforce is adapting to professional environment and usually is not familiar with norms and helpful practices that make workday more productive. They need some time management guidance for meeting employer’s expectations and for their professional development.
- Experienced specialists sometimes struggle with adapting their time management habits to a new work environment. New tasks and processes can require a different approach – and figuring it out can take significant time.
- Specialists with previous experience in other fields or in totally different environments often make a startling discovery that their existing time management practices that seemed to be efficient are completely useless in the new environment. For example, freelancers, teachers, and self-employed individuals typically face this challenge when starting their path in the corporate world.
Team and HR managers can and need to help new hires develop time management habits and adjust them to the company’s practices and the nature of their new job. And here’s what they can do to simplify this step of the new employees’ career path.
Set up a comprehensive onboarding process
If you’re using a timekeeping system, make sure that the onboarding process for new employees includes steps to help them get started with the system. It should provide both instructions on how to use the time-tracking tool and guidelines on how to approach time-tracking in general. The following steps are a must in the onboarding process:
- Instruct new hires how to use the time-tracking system: how it can be accessed, what data need to be entered and how often, what details need to be specified. Providing the employees with an instruction (as a link to your company’s intranet or as a PDF/ hard copy) would be even more helpful.
- Grant permissions to the employees required according to their roles, and make sure they can access their work tasks and perform necessary actions in the system. Explain them how they should proceed and who they can contact if they lack access to any data.
- Explain new hires how to estimate time required for performing their tasks, and how to proceed if they realize that their estimates are inaccurate. Estimation is one of the main challenges in time-tracking, so explaining its basics is a great help for new hires. Both common practices and your team members’ experience can work as a source of useful information on how to come up with accurate estimates.
- Show the employees how to analyze their individual results and evaluate achievements. Explain how individual work time can be measured in the system, where summary data on individual productivity is available, and how to evaluate the dynamics and trends. Also, demonstrate how to see if the workload is too high or too low, and whether there’s need for adjustment.
Stay informed on the progress
Onboarding of a new employee doesn’t limit to setting up a new user account in your time-tracking system and explaining how to use it. It is an ongoing process that requires monitoring, adjustment, advice, and help in the next periods. That’s why, plan some time for monitoring progress of your new hires, getting feedback from them, and addressing any issues if they appear.
- Set expectations and monitor whether they’re met on the regular basis. If a new team member fails to comply with set goals, ask them for feedback to figure out what difficulties they are facing and how to overcome them. Also, adjust plans and expectations as needed if you understand the initial ones are not realistic.
- Encourage other employees to help new hires, answer their questions, and revisit basic procedures. Don’t forget to log time you and your team members spend on helping new employees, and analyze this data to reveal possible issues.
- Monitor new hires’ productivity – use their time-track data for that. Run reports on a regular basis, analyze the trends, and see where they struggle. Ask new team members for feedback and offer help if needed.
- Give feedback to your employees about their current progress. If you see that there’s room for improvement for them, give practical advice on what can be done more efficiently: for example, you can suggest that they try using some personal productivity tools. Inform them if they fail to meet the expectations as soon as possible, and suggest ways to improve current results.
- Be realistic about new team members’ ability to adopt new practices. Most likely, they are already overwhelmed with information and struggling with new challenges, so plan some time for them to develop time management habits that your team’s needs require.
Help new hires create a structured environment
It’s a known fact that time management is particularly challenging in chaotic environment. So new employees usually need some help with setting up a comfortable workplace, work process and work environment right from the start. Whether you’re not using a timekeeping system in your workflow or not, follow these steps to make time management more comfortable and easy for new hires:
- Explain how to use your work management or project management system. It’s always helpful if you can hand out this information or give a link to an instruction so that an employee can use it for reference at any time. Also, give some productivity and efficiency tips, such as where to find necessary data sooner, how to perform similar actions in bulk, or how to automate some routines.
- Give new employees a list of tasks to accomplish. Make sure you’ve included all essential details, priorities, deadlines, expectations of the outcome, and clarifying instructions if needed.
- Let them know that you’re ready to help if any problems appear. Encourage new hires to inform you as soon as possible if they struggle with difficulties, are likely to miss deadlines, or realize that their estimates were not accurate.
- Set up regular check-ins (for example, weekly or bi-weekly) to understand current progress and identify possible difficulties. If you realize that the initial goals are not likely to be met, adjust them as needed, and think of additional steps that can help new hires develop good time management habits sooner.
Time management is always a challenging task, and it is particularly hard at the new workplace, with new processes and responsibilities. For most new hires, the struggle is real regardless of their previous experience. A wise manager understands the importance of help guidance at the first steps: this allows new hires to develop time management habits that will ensure their productive work on the next steps of their career with the company.