Jennifer J. Deal

When organizations reward people—whether through reputation, opportunities, or promotion—for saving money even if they waste time, employees orient their behavior accordingly.

But organizations can take actions that will start to change this mind-set. For example, company leaders could start counting time as carefully as they count money. Projects and organizational initiatives can have time budgets just as they do financial budgets, enabling organizations to track whether there are overruns. Many bad management practices would likely be changed if people were given incentives to avoid additional time costs, rather than just cash costs. A supersized role may seem to make sense. But when true time shortfalls are revealed through tracking—when you can demonstrate clearly on paper that leaving a position unfilled is damaging to both the employee who has to take on the work and the people who report to him or her—there’s a justification for adding (or not reducing) head count that top leadership can understand. And consider those decision buy-in meetings: If time were tracked as an expense, such practices would start to look costly.

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