Time Inefficiencies in Organizations

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It is quite difficult to manage other things if you cannot manage your own time. That said, managing your own time is just the beginning. Some organizations waste an extraordinary amount of time on ineffective workflow, unrealized potential from poor job design, ineffective employee performance, inefficient meetings and communications, poor quality control, and other.

A well-known Harvard Business Review piece points this out in great detail.1 They state that most companies have elaborate procedures for managing capital and require a compelling case for any new investment; however, an organization’s time goes largely unmanaged. They contend further that most advice on managing time pertains to the individual employee, eg, how frequently to check email and being selective about which meetings to attend. They state that a few model companies are on the cutting edge of managing time to treat it as a scarce resource and create “time budgets” that preclude an abundance of meetings and messaging. Some companies are now tracking time particularly of managers by looking at their calendars. They are also on the more positive side facilitating real collaboration (not just meetings). They recognize the problem of individuals requesting too much time from other individuals and thus have managing one’s own time and the time of others as part of an employee's formal evaluation/performance review. The authors identify 8 practices for managing organizational time: make the agenda clear and selective; create a zero-based time budget (no new meetings unless “funded” by time stricken from other meetings); require business cases for all new projects; simplify the organization (remove excessive layers of management); clearly delegate authority for time investments; standardize the decision process; establish organization-wide time discipline (on-time meeting starts and finishes, early ending if a meeting is going nowhere); provide feedback to employees on the “load” they are putting onto others.

While these suggestions might sound most suited for large organizations, there are certainly things to glean for pharmacy managers in the hospital and even the community setting. In fact, with fewer employees it is that much more important for those people to be efficient with their time. Reward efficiency, standardize communication about certain operational events, have definitive lines of responsibility and decision-making, ensure that everyone’s roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, and make certain that employees respect and value the time of their colleagues.

Additional information about Time Management/Organizational Skills and rganizational Culture and Behavior can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e. If you or your institution subscribes to AccessPharmacy, use or create your MyAccess Profile to sign-in to Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e. If your institution does not provide access, ask your medical librarian about subscribing.

1Mankins M, Brahm C, Caimi G. Your scarcest resource. Harv Bus Rev. 2014;92:72-80.

Shane Desselle

Professor of Social and Behavioral Pharmacy, Touro University California

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Shane Desselle 6 months ago

Think about it. How much time do you actually see wasted on a day to day basis? And I don’t mean hard-working people taking the occasional respite, but rather, inefficient meetings, discussions that don’t really need to be had, people not knowing what they are really supposed to be doing, processes held up by the same rate-limiting step or person, persons who simply lack focus, the organization having too many layers for a decision to be made, people spending extraordinary amounts of time on matters that are not really central to the job. The list goes on and on.