Journal of the australian naval



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Prospective Attitudes

Time management is rarely touched upon in Leadership and Management courses in the Services and. indeed, is given scant attention in most textbooks on the subject. Most courses and books rely heavily on the traditional and classical approach — why show excerpts from Hill Street Blues when 12 O'Clock High is still available? — for as Rosemary Stewart says. All the classical writers had some disagreements about terminology, but, in general, they agreed that managers planned, organised, motivated and controlled."

Unfortunately, this academic approach does not give much practical help to the managers and supervisors out in the field. Many of them 'work' very long hours, often arriving well before other staff and departing after them; some even take work home with them and some go back at the weekends. They attend lots of committee meetings, sometimes involving considerable travelling time between one place and the other, and they are always available for consultation with their staff at a moment's notice. The telephone and inter-office 'squawkbox' interrupt everything, all the time.

The end result is stress for everyone concerned — staff, families and supervisors — and inefficient use of a scarce commodity. Peter Drucker is arguably the best known, contemporary writer on management skills, and he has this to say:

Time is a unique resource... one cannot rent,

hire, buy or otherwise obtain more lime. The

supply of time is inelastic ... there is no

marginal utility curve for it ... time is totally

perishable and cannot be stored ... Effective

executives know that time is the limiting

factor. The output limits of any process are

set by the scarcest resource *

In a recent newspaper article. Alvin Toffler

argues that the time has come for a new social

contract; unions and organisations, he says, will

not survive the decade unless they are prepared

to adapt to dizzying, hard-to-predict change.

The labour force increasingly does its work in smaller groups, at more varied locations, with

Page 40 — November 86, Journal ol the Australian Naval Institute

fewer shared skills. In the advanced sectors of the economy .... profit and efficiency depend not on sweating the uneducated, but on encouraging resourcefulness and creativity among highly educated workers. This requires more flexible forms of organisation, less hierarchy, more open communication ... more training — and a more independent worker.*

The first point in his new strategic deal is for unions to start pressing for a 25 hour week, plus 5 hours training time — 'a change as shocking today as the eight-hour day was a century ago.'

One may not agree with all that Toffler says, but naval managers cannot escape the fact that they are operating with ever declining material resources — money, materials, manpower. And if there is even a grain of truth in his forecasts, then that way of life will become even more difficult. Time cannot be managed in the same way as the other resources, because of its nature, but unless managers learn to plan and control it more effectively, then the decline of the other resources and the changing attitudes to work will take their toll.

Every person thinks that he or she uses his/ her time wisely and no one would admit to 'wasting' half the working day. In fact, probably all managers and supervisors would reply if asked that they never have enough time; Alec Mackenzie says that: One out of ten says he would need 10% more, four say 25%. and the remaining half say 50%.'°

But, as Drucker says, there is no more to offer — so we must learn to use what there is to best advantage.

Time Analysis

A naval captain was heard to say one Monday morning that he had built a bookcase over the weekend, and as he was not skilled in the ad of carpentry he was more than pleased with himself. Unfortuntely. his wife had expressed her admiration with the rider that they could have bought one in a fraction of the time — and at the hourly rate her husband was worth, for a fraction of the cost. Both at home and at work, people tend to spend $5 doing a 50c job; your time by the hour, based on 230 eight-hour days per year. is worth as follows:

$ 5.44 if you earn $10.000pa

$ 8.15 $15,000

$10.87 $20,000

$16.30 $30,000

$27.17 $50,000"

But. do you know exactly how you spend your time at work? There have been many surveys of executives which have showed that their estimates of how they spent their time, bore little

resemblance to how they really occupied the days, when monitored by impartial observers. As time is such an important and scarce resource, managers must ensure that they spend it fruitfully, and the only way to do this is to examine exactly how they spend their days at present — and then plan to improve on it.

A simple time inventory can be kept by using a format similar to that found in Planner' diaries; you divide each day into 15 minute segments, write down next to each how you occupied that quarter and then analyse the results at the end of the day — the references by Mackenzie and Samuelson illustrate this method in more detail for those interested.

However. I have found that my students usually do not have time for such a detailed log (a paradox if ever there was one!) and that a simplified format is much more useful. They divide their daily tasks into four types:
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