What is the most common reason you have heard, from your employees, for not meeting their performance objectives? Would it be:
‘I just didn’t have the time’ or
‘I ran out of time’?
I’ve coached dozens of managers in how to talk to an employee who has failed to meet a performance objective. Very often, when they have tried to discuss this issue with the employee, they have heard the ‘lack of time’ response. Most of those managers didn’t know how to deal with that response. Why? Because they were unsure about whether:
• The employee genuinely did not have enough time or
• The employee did have the time, but they weren’t using that time effectively or
• They are using ‘lack of time’ as an excuse or to mask some other reason why they are not meeting the objectives
Tricky isn’t it? So how do we work out what the ‘lack of time’ issue is really about? Here’s an idea
Performance Objectives Time Check
Here are two questions you can use to help work out what’s happening:
1. Are other employees meeting their (similar) objectives?
Here we are looking to compare our ‘lack of time’ employee with other employees doing similar work and working towards achieving similar objectives
If the answer to the question is ‘yes’ then it might be safe to assume that this employee does have the time but, for some reason, is not using that time effectively (more on this below)
If the answer is ‘no’ (as in none of your employees are meeting their objectives) then I think we can safely say it would be a good idea for you to revisit:
• The number of performance objectives you have agreed with your employees and/or
• The time needed to achieve the performance objectives
Sometimes we realise, after our objective setting meetings, that we have been unrealistic. You wouldn’t be the first manager to get a little over enthusiastic with the number of objectives you have set (you can’t be because I did it plenty of times myself!). No problem, we simply then need to adjust the objectives in order to make them more realistic – and achievable.
2. Does your employee demonstrate effective time management?
Maybe you cannot compare this employee’s performance with other employees (they might have a unique job). The question to ask here is; can your employee demonstrate that they are managing their time effectively?
One way to evaluate your employee’s time management skills is to ask them to complete a simple time log detailing the activities undertaken and the time it took to complete them. Then you can work with them to analyse how they are managing their time
Often you will see – from analysing the time log with them – that they need to improve their time management. You would then go on train or coach your employee in how to improve in this area
If they are managing their time effectively, but still can’t meet the objectives, then (as above) you may need to re visit the objectives
Of course your employee may not be meeting their objectives for another reason (they don’t understand them, they don’t agree with them, they don’t have the resources they need etc.). The point of this exercise is that, at the very least, your employee will no longer be able to use lack of time as a reason for their underperformance and you can then go on to explore what the real reason is!
Performance Objectives and Time
Saying ‘I didn’t have time’ is, for some employees, the first response they think of to explain why they have not met their objectives. For a lot of managers (who have time pressures themselves) it’s a reason they find easy to accept. Often the most effective response is to stand back and take some time, with your employee, to analyse the problem with meeting the objectives – to establish if there is; a time problem, a time management problem or a different problem altogether
Do you want to know more about Performance Objectives?
Why not take a look at my e-book ‘Motivating Your Staff with Powerful Performance Objectives’ – a step-by-step guide for managers, team leaders and supervisors who want to motivate their staff to high performance. More details HERE