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The six best kept secrets of how your competitors let creatives track their time

Your team has grown to 10 employees and you have less and less control over the hours. What do they spend their time on? Are the estimated hours in line with the tracked hours? Do you have to hire co-workers or freelancers in the coming period? Do you still have enough work in June?

The six best kept secrets of how your competitors let creatives track their time

1. Help nobody is tracking time!

So, you finally decided to implement time tracking. You convinced the leadership team that time tracking is essential to running projects successfully. You got a budget from the managing director. You researched and tested different tools before finding the right fit for your organization. You did all this work, and the day it all pays off arrives. You finally introduce this brand-new time tracking solution to your team. And, the response?

No one’s tracking time 😢

What’s worse, you’re now wasting time you don’t have seducing people to submit their timesheets. You know time tracking is essential to your business, but now you’re ready to give it up entirely just to get rid of this massive headache.

It’s a story we hear all the time at Rodeo. But never fear! We have created a bright path you can take to guarantee that time tracking is successfully rolled out to your organization. 

Follow our tips and your team will be tracking time like a well-oiled machine. Or fire them 😄

2. The value of time tracking

Communicate the value of time tracking so the team understands the Why. Most people get frustrated when they feel like they’re being made to do something for no reason. If they’re going to spend time on something, they want to know why. 

This means, the first and most important step in getting your team on board is: Be upfront about the reasons they need to track time and what you’re going to do with the data. 

Be transparent about why time tracking is important  

Most people genuinely want their companies to succeed. They’re willing to go the extra mile to make sure that happens. Be clear about how time tracking is key to that success. You can even go an extra step and share examples of the actual reports you’re going to create with their timesheet data. Here are a couple of common reasons companies track time, which you can bring up with your team: 

Tracking billable time  

If you bill by the hour, show your team how their tracked time will be pulled into invoices, and how the company’s revenue is contingent upon them tracking time. 

Keeping projects on track 

If you’re using time tracking to make sure projects stay under budget, show people the actual reports you’re going to create to track project progress. 

Making better estimates 

Show people how time tracking will allow you to create a library of past projects, and how that info will improve your estimates and pricing.

3. Big Brother is watching you. NO!

There’s a lot of fear surrounding time tracking. Many people think it means Big Brother will be watching everything they do. Reassure people (and encourage them to track time) by being clear about what’s not going to happen. Let your team know that you won’t be using time tracking to spy on, micromanage, or judge them. 

Yes, there are some sticky tools out there that monitor what people are doing or take screenshots of their computers. Be clear that’s not what this is about.

Also, emphasize that accuracy is the most important thing and that there’s no magic number of hours you’re looking for them to hit each week. Let them know you’re not going to punish them. If you use Rodeo, the Project Overview page is a great in-app report to show off to your team. 

4. Onboard your team!

How you introduce time tracking to your team can have a big impact on whether they end up tracking time. Here are some tips for smoothly and successfully introducing time tracking: 

Give a presentation 

No one likes adding an extra meeting to the week, but in this case an all-hands meeting to introduce the new tool helps. This will make sure everyone is on the same page. It also gives you an opportunity to address their questions and concerns. Here are some things to cover: 

Explain why you’re tracking time  

Go over all the reasons it’s necessary to track time. This is a great time to show off some sample reports or invoices, and explain why time tracking is essential to getting this information. 

Let people know about their options

Depending on what tool you’re using, there are likely many different ways for people to enter time—running live timers or entering time after the fact, using mobile or desktop apps, tracking from integrations or browser extensions. Make sure to educate your team and help them find a way to track time that works for them. If people can track time in a way that suits them best, they are more likely to do it. 

Demo a timer 

Most people are familiar with logging time in a spreadsheet, but starting a built in Rodeo timer and tracking as you work might be a new concept. Many people assume it will be a pain to constantly start and stop a timer. But once they use it, they will find out it’s much easier (and faster) than they thought.  A short demo for your team will help them see that right away.

5. Set a schedule for timesheets and make someone accountable

A consistent schedule helps keep everyone on the same page and eliminates any stress around expectations. Choose one day when everyone’s timesheets are due. Most organizations pick something like Friday afternoon or Monday morning. This way people know when they have to have timesheets completed by, and they know when they’re likely to receive a follow-up. Don’t forget to remind them when it’s that time of the week. An automatic Slack reminder or recurring calendar event can do the trick. Your time tracking tool might have a reminder function built right into it that you can take advantage of too. 

The reality is that time tracking is likely to fall through the cracks every now and then, even on the best teams. If there isn’t someone there to provide a gentle reminder, you might find that it just doesn’t get done. Make someone accountable for time tracking across the whole company, and consider building it into their job description to help make sure it actually happens. This gives the team someone to give feedback to if they think the system could be improved— sometimes the best way to get your team to track time is to engage them in the process. 

Reward people for timely time tracking; don’t punish them

Reward people for tracking time. A little bribery never hurt! Think about ways you can reward your team when they do an especially good job of tracking time. Maybe you can buy them lunch every week that 100 percent of timesheets are in on time. We’ve even heard of agencies that only give employees access to the beer on tap in the office if they’ve submitted their timesheets. Maybe a month of successfully submitted timesheets could lead to happy hour at a local bar or a company outing. Get creative and make time tracking something your team actually looks forward to! 

Whatever you do, be careful about associating time tracking with punishment. If time tracking creates a negative experience for your team, they’ll come to resent it, and every week will turn into a battle. Avoid publicly shaming people on Slack or a companywide email. You also want to avoid monetary punishments for forgetting to submit timesheets, like refusing to pay people or withholding their bonuses. As hard as it is sometimes, it’s better to use positive motivation to get timesheets in. 

Because we are a big fan of rewarding people we will introduce Rodeo Send Me A Present Q4 2019. We will randomly send gifts to your employees when they enter their time sheets on time. They will like that a lot.

Inform new hires about the why of time tracking

Even if you give your team a great presentation and answer all their questions, that’s not going to help everyone who’s hired after the presentation. Make sure new hires get the same information communicated to them as part of the onboarding process. It might even be worth sitting down with each one for ten minutes to go over your time tracking tool and what’s expected of them. When time tracking is clearly communicated as one of the expectations of their new role, they’re more likely to do it. 

6. What’s in it for you?

Motivating your team is hard work. It can be tempting to lay down the law and impose negative consequences for not tracking time. But it can be a lot more effective if you make time tracking a positive experience for your team, and emphasize all the good that can come from tracking time. This way, they’ll genuinely look forward to doing it, instead of just seeing it as a necessary evil.

Here are some ways to ensure time tracking has a positive impact on your team:

Prevent burnout

Use data collected through time tracking to prevent burnout and reinforce a good work-life balance. If you notice people consistently going over forty hours a week, you can actively intervene and get some work off their plate. When people know you’re using their time to have their back, they’ll be way more likely to track time.

Improve how projects are run

Sometimes people don’t realize how much time they really spend on meetings, emails, or other internal processes until they see those hours tallied up. Use that data to cut down on wasteful internal work. Your team will appreciate it.

Help people help themselves

Time tracking gives interesting insight into how you work. Do you spend more time checking email than working on actual deliverables? Does most of your time go toward your biggest priorities, or are you constantly distracted by smaller tasks? Time tracking data can empower people to improve their work habits. Let the members of your team in on this data to motivate them to track more accurately.

Hours are billable after all

Extra hours, and exceeding the original budget are visible straight away in Rodeo, and therefore more likely to be invoiced. And you get more grip on hour burn rate: is it necessary to expand the team? Can you ask the client for more budget because of the additional work? 

How much capacity is available?

When the team is tracking hours on a regular basis and uses tasks to plan future work Rodeo will provide you great insights about used and available capacity. Do you do need to hire new coworkers or are you managing peak demand by hiring freelancers? On the other hand, when you already have hired freelancers they can be budget burners and therefor you don’t want them to sit with you too long 

So far, our tips to improve the culture of hour tracking in your organization. Did you manage to improve the hour tracking culture? Let us know and we will share your experiences with other Rodeo users. Mail it to info@getrodeo.io .

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