Issue Processing: Time Management and Leadership

By Nathan Denny and Scott Axelrod

SESSION RECAP: General Management Topics. Not one but 2 Private Advisory Board sessions convened to discuss the issue of time management and leadership. Here’s a rundown.


How do I balance customer acquisition with building infrastructure?

Why It’s Important

Issue Processing: Time Management and LeadershipLess than 6 months old, this agency has demanded much work from its leader simply to keep up. Time could be used more effectively. What’s needed is a formula or routine that can expedite time management by, ideally, keeping a solid focus and repeating it.

The agency is about to hire 3 new interns.

Clarifying Questions

  • Are you ready to hire these new interns?
  • Do you have well-defined long-term goals?
  • Do you have quarterly short-term goals?
  • What percentage of time do you spend on each of your major buckets? Break this down.
  • By the end of the year, what’s the most important thing you want to have in place?

Suggestions / Solutions

  • Block your time out on a calendar.
  • Hire the right people — even if it takes longer to find them.
  • Prioritize your hires: Maximize each hire to take things off your plate so that you can spend more time building the business. Develop a “criteria for success” prior to new hires.

Action Plan

Based on today’s peer discussion, this leader’s immediate action items are:

  • Putting TASKS on paper and allocating more time for them.
  • Put out more help wanted ads — immediately!
  • Draft “criteria for success.”
  • Identify a personality assessment.


How do I balance my time on nurturing the culture change versus the strategizing for sales opportunities?

Re-stated Issue

How do I define and quickly implement a new core value system?

Why It’s Important

Culture change is needed to free up time for this leader, whose small, family-based business is growing — and, as it does so, facing more competition. More needs to be done “to get the business.”

The company has many long-term employees that are scared of change — they don’t understand the need and feel that their current ways are successful enough. After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

That attitude, however, is leaving opportunities on the table. “We need to change the way we do business in order to grow. Our sales staff needs to become more than order takers.”

Clarifying Questions

  • Is staff training one-time, or ongoing? Was it conceptual or specific?
  • Does your team do any team-building (or other team-encouraging) activities?
  • Is training one-on-one, or could it be done in groups?
  • Is there any incentive for the employees to adapt to your ideas of culture change?

Suggestions / Solutions

  • Create group sessions for employees to share their thoughts on the current culture change.
  • Hire an ongoing trainer.
  • Ask employees for honest feedback and suggestions.
  • Create an incentive program to boost morale and push employees to accomplish more.
  • Set Core Values — and then base your entire management and review system on these core values.

Action Plan

Resolved! This leader will tackle the following tasks immediately:

  • Do the cost analysis to hire an ongoing trainer
  • Define success
  • Create an incentive for employees


How can I assign and manage time against tasks more efficiently? How do I organize multiple projects and multiple people in to a seamless process?

Why It’s Important

Tasks not completed on time impact delivery to clients, thereby impacting the profit margins and client retainers.

What’s needed is an updated system and/or process that helps assign the correct amount of time to each staff member to deliver quality work on a consistent basis while maintaining (scratch that, INCREASING) profitability.

Basecamp is currently being used to manage projects and calendar assignments … it’s not cutting it. At the level this leader is engaging it, time allocation is insufficient. The use of plugins to enable supplemental functionality within Basecamp is being considered.

Qualifying Questions

  • How many employees do you have?
  • How many clients are you working with at any given time?
  • How many people typically get involved in a project?
  • Do you see this as a macro-level issue, or is it an issue with your staff?
  • Is Basecamp thoroughly entrenched in your organization? How was it implemented?

Suggestions / Solutions

  • Hire someone that can teach you the ins and outs of Basecamp.
  • Consider laying out price levels based on how quick work is needed — this will prioritize and help increase profitability.
  • Leverage Vistage Village and see what peers in similar situations are using.

Recommended Resources:

Action Plan

This leader admits it — he needs to do his due diligence and see if he can better leverage Basecamp … or potentially look in to other systems.
Session date: Jun 21, 2012
Originally published: Jun 21, 2012

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