Project time tracking: how to motivate your employees to do it

Most employees will roll their eyes and groan when you ask them to start tracking their time for a specific project. Some will see it as another superfluous task they have to do, while others will feel it’s yet another way the ‘Big Brother’ of management can check up on them.

The fact is project management time tracking is really important for a number of reasons, including client billing, work planning and providing valuable data for future project costing. So how do you motivate your employees to participate without them feeling judged or as though it is a waste of time?

1. Increase understanding of project time tracking

As soon as most employees hear the phrase ‘time tracking’, morale takes a kicking. Telling your staff to ‘track their time’ can be like saying ‘what the hell are you doing all day?’

The most fruitful way of getting your employees on board with project time tracking is in your explanation of what it is, what is expected and why you are doing it. It’s all about the concept of project time tracking and your employees understanding of why they need to do it.

Talk to your team about the benefits of time tracking, in particular the benefits to them. Here are just some of the ways your employees will benefit from project time tracking:

  • Task delegation – tracking time helps employees to understand how long particular tasks take. Increased understanding of workload and task time will help your employees to manage workload better and delegate when necessary. This could mean less late nights in the office trying to keep up.
  • Know limitations – when employees have achieved a greater understanding of how long particular pieces of work take, they can be more confident in saying ‘no’ when too much work gets scheduled.
  • Eliminate low-priority tasks – time tracking will highlight the amount of time spent on low priority tasks and enable employees to reduce non-essential areas of work.
  • Improve focus – multi-tasking and managing workload can leave some employees going around in circles. Project time logging helps staff keep their focus on doing one thing at a time.
  • Helps management know when it’s time to hire – project time logging gives management information about how much time is required for specific tasks. It means they are one step ahead when planning workload and taking on new clients and projects. Understanding how employees spend their time, gives management the opportunity to hire more staff before the existing team are at breaking point.
  • Helps management to understand system inefficiencies – there’s nothing more frustrating for employees than feeling hampered by inefficient systems they feel they have no power to change. Project time logging gives insight into which systems are working and which aren’t and gives management the opportunity to improve efficiency.
  • Proof of achievements – when it comes to pay reviews, employees can demonstrate the positive impact they are having on the business. Project time logging provides proof.

2. Make time tracking easy

When time tracking is a chore, your employees won’t end up doing the job properly. It’s a good idea to invest in software that makes project time logging easy. Ensure staff are given sufficient training in the project management software. The simpler and more user-friendly your time log system is, the easier it will be to get staff on board with the idea of using it effectively.

3. Don’t micromanage, encourage autonomy instead

Some staff will see time logging on projects as another arm of micromanagement. The fact is no one wants to be micromanaged. Micromanaging eats away at the soul. It isn’t good for employees and it isn’t good for business. Reframe the idea of project task managing as giving more autonomy to your employees.

Project time logging can be a positive experience for employees if they are given more autonomy and greater accountability. Employees can review their workload with ease and report to managers when they need help.

Staff are also given insight into their working patterns and this can help them to address inefficiencies and take greater pride in their work. This all helps towards self esteem and a sense of fulfilment which is of great benefit to individuals and ultimately the company they work for.

4. Consider incentives

Timely completion of projects will keep customers happy and improve your reputation. This is fundamental to the growth of your business. Consider offering incentives to employees for efficient time management. It’s not about rewarding employees for not taking breaks and working late, which will ultimately take its toll on morale.

Give employees a voice and the opportunity to highlight inefficiencies. Could some working practices be improved? Are meetings taking too long? Trust in your employees and reward them for their effort. Most of all you want employees to engage with project time logging as a means to make their working life more efficient and more rewarding, and ultimately make them feel more valued.

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