As a Finance Transformation Consultant, I have worked with Big 4 Consulting firms as well as medium and small consulting firms implementing large scale Finance transformational change initiatives for Fortune 500 companies for more than 20 years. In more than 50 previous projects, over 90% of them involved company managers who participated on a part-time basis. This is because companies do not typically have project management organizations or full time subject matter experts dedicated to work on special projects. As a result, these employees are put under significant stress balancing their usual responsibilities while effectively working on special projects. In particular, Finance employees are especially challenged due their involvement in important company processes such as the financial close, quarterly forecasts, and annual budgets.
As a project manager, helping project team members balance these priorities is par for the course knowing how difficult and time consuming it is for them to comply with their regular internal processes while at the same time being personally responsible for successful, on-time and on-budget completion of special projects. While my experience has been focused in the Finance area, here are a few tips and tricks that can be applied to help company employees and their supporting management better manage their time and project participation.
Recognize and Reward Your Employees
Management understands the time commitment required by their employees to participate in special projects however, career or financial incentives are not always offered to employees that have to balance both priorities. Even when other incentives are not available, public recognition of the contributions that employees give to successful projects can have significant positive impact on morale and employee retention.
Monitor Employee Work Load
Managers and supervisors of employees working on special projects should, at a minimum, stay close enough to their employees to help resolve competing priorities that occur. Employee responsibilities on special projects during the monthly close and annual budget cycle can be especially stressful and put difficult demands on project participants. Managers need to stay especially close to these situations and help employees manage both their project and normal responsibilities.
Put Extra Focus on Improving Your Time Management Skills
The Project Management Institute strongly emphasizes proper time management and has devoted an entire chapter of their Project Management Professional (PMP) certification training textbook, The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), to it. They assure that if you vigorously practice these concepts it will help you better manage your time while participating on large scale projects at work:1
- Be respectful of your own as well as others’ time by using your calendar and keeping it updated.
- Slow down and focus on managing important tasks, not just responding to every request as it comes in.
- Maintain a good system of organizing your time (to-do list, calendar, multiple monitors)
- Set aside time to manage and process your emails, starting with the oldest emails first.
According to time management experts Dale Carnegie & Associates, Inc., the key is to invest your time in the most productive way, not only for the sake of your organization but for your own peace of mind. They also provide some quick tips to help you prioritize tasks so that you can work more efficiently. Putting these time management skills to work can help with managing day-to-day tasks, as well as additional management expectations that arise.
What are some skills you have learned to help you better manage tasks and priorities? Let us know in the comments section below.
1. MacDonald, D. H. PMI/ESA project time management function. Project Management Quarterly, 14(1), 20–26.