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As a manager, team lead, or friend of co-workers that depend upon others for positive results, it can sometimes be hard to help others manage their time.

I’m not talking about the people who have time issues in general—you know, the ones who come screaming into every meeting with smoke trailing their shoes as they screech to a halt just in time to sit and attend—I’m talking about people who’ve never shown any time issues before that suddenly have life changes that are clearly affecting their schedule.

What are the first signs to watch for that time is becoming a new issue?

Initial Signs Of Time Issues

The first signs often stem from family or traffic and affect getting to work at a set time that used to be easy and now has become hard.

When someone has a new baby, has moved to a new location, or depends upon a carpool, start times are the first to be a hardship.

For people who hold time as an important marker of respect, this can be even harder to handle so be kind and don’t judge them harder than they are judging themselves.

Second Signs Of Time Issues

The second indicator is when they work later than normal to get similar things done that used to be taken care of during normal hours.

This can come from not getting enough sleep and their concentration is affected, a regular coworker has moved onto a new role or new job and left a vacancy that affects the work flow, or a project has become larger or more cumbersome than expected without a change to the deadline.

All these are common and seen often in the workplace. How you handle them will make or break your success as a friend, co-worker, or manager.

So how do you keep morale, team collaboration, and performance from slipping?

Flexible Work Scheduling

Consider the details:

  • New family members (such as a new baby that doesn’t sleep),
  • New addresses (that includes new traffic patterns),
  • Issues around shared driving responsibilities (carpools, metro, new traffic patterns).

These can all be addressed on a temporary basis to help people adapt, feel like they are being treated like a human being and not a robot, and allowed grace to catch their breath and not be punished.

Can You Do That?

That’s a great question! A number of organizations have found the benefits of flexible work scheduling so powerful, they have implemented them permanently.

Does your organization, management, and culture allow for allowances to be worked out for personal issues? Most do.

If not, you may be the first to complain about retention or team morale issues and it could simply be linked to how humane you’re allowed to treat your people.

If you can treat people with grace and choose not to, I would challenge why you feel this is required, OK, or even desired. It may stem from what you value or how important YOU consider time, and while this may be considered a strength, this can also be extremely short cited if you are projecting your values onto people unnecessarily.

People leave managers more than an organization so carefully consider where you sit on this opportunity. 

Read more here on what employees want from their manager.

Distributed Work

For the second set of time issues, when your employees start working longer hours:

  • Due to challenging workloads,
  • Due to new projects that have presented new challenges,
  • Or if team members have left and presented a gap in talent.

Some organizations have started to value Distributed workloads. This concept is designed to offset temporary talent challenges and include hired temporary help that can work virtually, via telecommuting, or step in to offset regular administrative duties to allow your full-time employees to concentrate on deadline-oriented performance. 

What Does This Take?

Knowing when this is required takes a keen awareness of the talent you have and the performance levels your people are capable of, as well as clear communication to allow them to reveal when things are getting tough.

It also takes having a clear line of communication with your human resource department so they have resources, temp agencies already prepared, and have found talent that is willing to work on a contracted basis as needed.  Preparation, both externally and internally, are essential. 

Know Your Team!

As a manager, team-lead, or even a co-worker, understanding what it takes to be the best for your clients should always be front of mind.

As a manager or leader, knowing your team and what talents they bring is also a must. If you haven’t taken the time to do this, assessment and team workshops help facilitate this efficiently and you should pay attention to what is available to you.

As a manager and emerging leader, your team will be grateful for your support on both fronts.

If you are aiming to be successful, ask yourself what you want people to brag about when you are not in the room.

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