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Profit & Growth Tips for Digital Agencies

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Why Your Digital Agency Needs to Let Employees Manage Their Own Time

Posted by Nicolas Jacobeus on Aug 22, 2016

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Your agency strives to hire skilled, creative, intelligent employees to bring their expertise to your projects. But as your agency grows, and you have more team members to keep track of, it’s all-too-easy for managers to overstep the boundary into micromanagement as they try and maintain visibility into all progress on agency projects.

However, if you’re dictating to your employees exactly what work they’ll be doing and when, chances are you’ll stifle the creativity and undervalue the skills you hired them for. Today I’m looking at 4 ways your agency will benefit if you let your employees manage their own time.

1) Improved Team Morale

Micromanaging your team highlights a lack of trust in your employee, and is extremely demotivating for your team. If you’re planning out their time for your employees, it shows that you don’t believe them to be competent enough to make their own decisions about how they should prioritise their workload.

As well as demonstrating trust in your team, enabling your employees to manage their own time gives them a sense of responsibility, and has the added benefit of making them accountable for their own work. Accountability and a shared sense of ownership is essential for helping your employees feel valued, which will boost team morale.

2) Better Project Estimates

A task that takes one employee 20 minutes may take someone else 40 minutes. Your employee will be the person who has the best understanding of their own capabilities, whereas if you try to plan out their workload in minute detail, you’re likely to either over- or under-estimate how long each task will take them.

If you’ve under-estimated, and it takes longer than anticipated, they’ll be worrying about whether they’re going to finish something on time, rather than focusing their efforts on doing it well. Alternatively, if you over-estimate how long something will take, then your employee won’t be motivated to move on to something else – they’ll be worried as to whether they’ve missed out something important.

Giving your employee the chance to manage their own time will allow them to spend as long as they need on each task. It will also allow them to group tasks together in a way that best suits their working preferences, in order for them to be most productive.

3) Increased Team Productivity

Everyone has different ways of working. Some employees may be more productive in the mornings, whereas others may be better working after lunch.

It’s becoming increasingly popular for agencies to adopt flexible working practices for their teams, often having ‘core hours’ where the whole team is in the office, but with employees able to choose their own schedule around those core hours.

Flexible working, and to a lesser degree remote working, give employees control of their time as a whole – not just how they spend their time. This makes it easy to balance work and home life, as well as developing work schedules that maximise each employee’s productivity.

4) Less Wasted Time

As a manager, it’s not your job to work out exactly which tasks your team will work on at what time. The more time you spend planning out your employees’ workloads, the less you have to spend on important strategic decisions that only you can make.

Additionally, no project ever runs exactly to plan, so there’s no point planning out workloads in detail ahead of time (which is why Gantt charts are such an ineffective project management tool). So if you’re spending hours before you kick-off a project, planning out your team’s work, then that effort (and associated cost) will inevitably be wasted when the project goes off-track after a few days.

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