Time as your company's heart rate monitor
Author: Peter s'Jongers, CEO Protime
Time as the best way to make appointments
If we look back in history, we see that people did not always use the same time measurement. When the trains started to run through Belgium, it was decided to align the station clocks. The former city clocks, each indicating their own local time, were quite impractical when people started to move by train over longer distances.
After defining national times, time zones were agreed worldwide.
And now even the discussion is raging as to whether we should move towards one universal world time, the Universal Coordinated Time or UCT. Just like pilots, air traffic controllers and planes around the world are already calculating in this timezone. This discussion and the huge steps forward that have already been made testify for the power of time. The power of the agreements concerning time.
When people make time agreements, they bring order to the chaos.
Then why do we suddenly freeze when the subject of working hours is brought up? Why don't we use time agreements as a tool in our efforts to work more independent of time and place?
Time registration is a tool within our culture
At Protime we also use time and our own time registration tools to support our culture, to function well as a knowledge company.
It's totally irrelevant for me to know if someone starts at eight or nine in the morning. I couldn't care less. - Peter s'Jongers, CEO Protime
I do ask myself the question: "What do I want to know?" After all, the biggest cost in our organization is the wage costs. What do we want to know other than the fact whether or not our people are working? How do we know if someone isn't taking on too much? How do we know if someone could carry out an extra project? How do I prevent people from burning out? From my experience and from what I hear from our customers, time registration is often a diversion. It is often the center topic in discussions about the old way of working, the new way of working and working the day after tomorrow.
Join me in this thought experiment:
What would be the reaction of the trade unions if a company manager decided today to introduce time registration as a tool to measure and tackle work pressure? It is not inconceivable that there would also be people who think that time registration just increases the workload, or that it is a return to a kind of 'command and control' that we just have to get rid of.
Time registration is just one of the many tools that exist today to assist companies in their HR policy. As a tool, time registration is not modern or old-fashioned.
Many companies have always done time registration. Some companies are now introducing the system for the first time. Still, others are reintroducing it after they have abolished it. But hours worked are just one of the many types of input you can plug into your HR system.
Data collection - in any way - is the first step
It is the analysis of all that data that you as an organization can only really get to work with. Look for example at top athletes, where every self-respecting top club has a lab with analysts to monitor all the values of the athletes in order to achieve better performance.
I myself experienced the power of data while running the New York marathon. At 9:50 a.m. I left Staten Island with 50,000 participants at the foot of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge for what became my first marathon. The months before, I had prepared myself meticulously. I put on my running shoes regularly, followed training schedules, underwent medical screening, took nutritional advice to heart, put my social life on a low and read all the tips I could find.
Clearly an excellent preparation. And yet, once in the streets of New York, I failed completely. I felt my heart beating wildly. My running rhythm slowed down. Fatigue struck. And already at milestone 12. So I was less than 20 km away. I felt the tension rising. Did I meet the guy with the hammer before half the race? I probably wouldn't make it to the end! So much traveling and so many hours of preparation to have to stop now.
After the swearing, I managed to regain my composure. "OK, calm down Peter", I thought. "What do you feel? What do you see? What data do you have available?"
With one look at my sports watch, I calculated that I was running at a speed of 11 km per hour, which was clearly slower than my training schedule. Check. I could tell from the duration that I hadn't left too fast. Check. My heart rate monitor indicated that I was running nicely in the green heart rate zone. Check. No acute pain anywhere. Check.
All available data proved to be reassuring and it calmed me down. It will be alright, the analysis of the data reassured me. Stress, enthusiasm and the unknown probably caused me to panic slightly, which struck me as fatigue. As a result, I ended up in a vicious circle. A downward spiral.
By using data as a reference, I broke the uncertainty pattern and came back into the right flow. New York Marathon. 3u36. Check! I have often thought back to this moment later on. Because don't we often have to deal with similar situations on the work floor?
Also on the workfloor, we increasingly find ourselves in new, challenging situations. A new project, a new position, leading a new team, managing a new customer portfolio, opening up a new market... Situations for which we are usually well prepared but which cause us stress the first time we actually do them.
Again, we are often only guided by the feeling of the moment. Because of this, we regularly see people going into overdrive, panicking and dropping out. After all, a person is naturally conservative and calm in a familiar situation. But that familiar situation does not drive us. It does not give us the energy we are looking for.
So when we get back on the path of change, data always helps. Data is the foundation. Data insight is often a beacon in the storm and helps us to step further than our feelings would bring us. I learned that you shouldn't use all the data. But the more data you collect, the more grip you have when you need it. So also time registration and working time management. After all, it provides very valid, uniform and usable data.
Data is not a goal.
Data is a means to an end.
Source: The Dutch book 'Proud! Why company culture is a strategic goal' For sale here