i manage a small nonprofit organisation in the academia sector (only 10 staff), and six of our staff are phd fellows who spend 30% of their time on the organization, and the remaining 70% on their research. there is currently nothing in place that tracks how much time they spend on the organization's work, and i'm wondering whether introducing a timesheet system would be beneficial, or could that harm the very open and friendly culture? my problem is that the entire organization is very loose, i.e. no proper procedures or systems, and for me coming into this environment, i find it a little difficult to manage. would appreciate some insights from others...
Hi eiskho, are they supposed to be doing your work 100% of the time or is the 30/70% split what they are meant to be doing? Is their research related to the work of your nonprofit organisation? Keen to find out more about how it should work....
As a general rule I would advise against time sheets. They tend to smack of micro-management and can result in a loss of goodwill. Also, timesheets measure activity, not results - so if they do make a difference it tends to be increased busyness, which is not the same thing as increased productivity.
I think that in this respect timesheets and associated systems are attempts to compensate for a lack of clear agreed outcomes. Ideally, everyone on the team should have clear targets and outcomes that feed directly into your organisation's equally clear targeted outcomes. If people are achieving their agreed outcomes, and the organisation is achieving its goals then there isn't really a problem.
Hi there eiskho, thanks for posting your question here.
You might find the following pages useful to give you ideas for boosting performance and cohesion rather than going down the timesheets route:
Do others here have experience they could share about how to manage a self managing team?
Exactly what Micah said.
The only time that time sheets tend to be required are when you have to prove to your donor the financial expenditure of the money they're putting in. So - when the Donor specifically asks for evidence of man hours in order to justify their investment.
If you don't have to provide time sheets for a stakeholder, I wouldn't. They often create a lot of paperwork with little payback.
Having said that, they can be an interesting surprise tool when you think that someone isn't pulling their weight. Introducing them for a couple of months can psychologically jolt people into turning up on time if they weren't before. Or faking their time sheet if they're that way inclinedIntroducing them for a couple of months might be a way to gather data regarding use of time amongst staff. However, you'd need to emphasise that it's just an admin exercise and that they should fill them in 'honestly'. Otherwise people are likely to write down what they know you want to see, and you're none the wiser to the actual reality of the situation.
All of that aside - Micha's 100% right about results charts. The best theory is that, so long as the work that needs to be done is getting done, people can manage their own time.
For that to work, you need a clear results plan. Make sure it is a results plan and not just a Gantt chart saying: 'we will do this and this...'
You say: "...loose environment. none of the employees have any clear objectives or outcomes"
First off - 'loose environment' is a very loose way of putting it. Might help to pin down exactly what is unsatisfactory about it. In bulletpoints, with evidence.
Once you have that, you can set your clear objectives and outcomes.
You can't introduce a formal structure until you can clearly define what isn't working, and the impact that's having. That's where you need to start - a little research.
All the best with it.
I'm a member of the Operational Research Society. They have a working group on OR in the Third Sector. If you're serious about getting some advice on improving the efficiency of your organisation, it might be worth contacting them. They're trialing volunteering OR professionals within the VolSec - you might be a challenge they're up for taking on. Ask for an 'OR in the Third Sector' contact. If you have trouble locating them, drop me a direct line.
All the best with it.
of your employees. Of course, this should be an automated tool to help you become more efficient, organized and best of all productive.
I also don't think this could harm your open and very friendly culture. I have long implemented this system to my employees and so far everything is good. It has even greatly helped us. As long as they know up to what extent they are tracked and monitored (given that it is non-invasive too) and that this will help in the overall productivity, then everything should be fine.
I guess the question is what timesheets will add to your organisation - besides recording hours for the sake of funding, payroll or ensuring that staff do not work beyond (or below) their hours (ie work life balance).
If it's about managing performance, maybe set up a structure to manage how staff are meeting your organisation's goals. You'll find more performance management/appraisal guidance and templates here.
Eiskho, if in-case, they are all working for you, or you are handling all of them, you must go ahead and start tracking their tasks and time. I dont think this will spoil the workplace freedom or understanding just like that, unless they believe this is just for shaping the organization and I am sure you can make them understand this very well.
We use a tool from Replicon for time tracking and time billing. For your situation, I am sure these Replicon add-on's would help and moreover its hassle free processing and hence your employees wont feel it hectic. Try this time clock software and let me know if you need any further help with the process or finding other tools.