Time Management for Effective Managers – Drucker’s The Effective Executive – 3

Time – a most valuable resource but always fleeting

In the previous posting in this series we closed with Drucker’s five essential practices for managers.

Effective managers:

  1. know where their time goes.
  2. focus on outward contribution.
  3. build on strengths….
  4. concentrate on the few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results.
  5. make effective decisions.

Peter Drucker's The Effective Executive

This posting focuses on the first of these, time.

Time is a central resource, yet unlike other resources it cannot be inventoried, purchased, or controlled in any way. It is always the scarcest resource. Thus the use of our time and the organization’s time is critical to achieving results.

Effectiveness Depends on Continuous, Uninterrupted Blocks of Time

“Time in large, continuous, and uninterrupted units is needed….”((1)) A manager who can only find brief moments for reflective thought is bound to think about only what is at hand, what they already know, and what they have already done.

Drucker argues that there is a three step process that is the foundation of effectiveness in managing time. First is recording the use of time, second is managing time,((2)) and third is the consolidation of discretionary time. These are the steps to coming to grips with how one’s time is being used now.

Reducing Time Wasters Continue reading

  1. all quotes are from Chapter Two – Know Thy Time in Drucker’s The Effective Executive []
  2. the use of the word “managing” here refers to the setting of priorities and making choices about the use of time. There is no sense to thinking that time is managed in the way every other resource in the organization can be managed. []

Seize Your Time – step away from “managing” time towards seizing your time

I have written earlier about the strangeness of the concept of “time management”((1)), but I continue to bump into elements of the vast industry of time management consulting((2)).  And clients continue to wrestle with how to use their time more effectively.  All of this means that I am continuing to sharpen my practices. Continue reading

  1. in my posting, “Time Management – is now the time to get beyond this distracting oxymoron?” []
  2. I am hardly the only person to note the fallacy of “time management”,here is David E. Allen of Getting Things Done fame on this point []

Podcast – Three Counter-Intuitive Steps to Becoming a More Effective Manager

Be a More Effective Manager – stop answering those questions, seize your time, and it’s your fault


Three Counter-Intuitive Steps to Becoming a More Effective Manager

Become a More Effective Manager – Three Counter-Intuitive Steps

In the world of planning and strategy, there is a truism that too much planning, too much detail, too much analysis, leads to inaction, to a loss of opportunity. Along the same line of observation, in the world of learning to becoming a more effective manager, there can be too much study, too much thinking, too much integration of the many many skills and aptitudes required to become more effective. In both strategy and management skills action is almost always preferable to another round of study. Action bumps you up against the real world and provides the real basis for improving skills and results.

But, that still leaves us with the nagging question as a manager, especially for rookie managers and supervisors, how do I get started?

Based on many years of personal work as a manager and many years coaching managers, here are three steps you can take that will get you into action and guarantee striking results. These results will come in your personal effectiveness and in of the results of the organization you manage.  Remember,  by results, I am referring to the three meanings Drucker defined: (1) direct business results (usually measured in $s); (2) improved organizational culture (values); and (3) development of people.((1))

1. Stop Answering Questions

If most managers could listen to themselves, the proverbial fly on the wall, for just a few hours, they would discover that they are chronically enabling dependency all around them and undermining whatever formal delegation systems are in place. How is this happening? Just listen and you will hear a stream of questions coming at them followed by answers in response. You are enabling the following the reflexive pattern: ask the expert and be rewarded with answers. Ask the boss, get an answer, and be safe from responsibility for the answers.

If you want to get people to take responsibility and be involved in the business, you can’t go on answering all these questions. They will just go on asking whether they need to or not. And, you are spending an enormous amount of your time, your most valuable resource, to answering all of these questions.

What should a manager do to break this pattern? Continue reading

  1. see Chapter 2 – What Can I Contribute? in his book The Effective Executive []

Time Management – is now the time to get beyond this distracting oxymoron?

Time management is an extremely popular topic. Is this productive?

A Google search for the phrase “time management” returns the droll news that there are more than 14,900,000 responses. Amazon lists 448 books with ‘time management” in the title or subject line. A similar search on Youtube.com returns over 2,000 videos about time management.

But, what can this really be about? Time is a concept we use to delimit the past from the present, and whatever future there might be. Einstein is reported to have said, “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”((1)) Perhaps because we, as human beings, are a fleeting moment, we have a special focus on time. We are very aware that our time is limited, unknowable. Continue reading

  1. I could not find a reference citation for this quote. It is ubiquitous on the web. Perhaps it is apocryphal? In a recent re-read of David Allen’s Getting Things Done Penguin, 2001), he has a side note (p. 5): “Time is the quality of nature that keeps events from happening all at once. Lately it doesn’t seem to be working”. – Anonymous []