Category Archives: Time Management

Learning & Development is More than a Class


When our Consultants at Learning Dynamics meet with clients to discuss training initiatives, we always start by asking what the client wants to accomplish. Combined with a thorough understanding of the current conditions within the client’s company, sometimes down to the individual employee, we make recommendations that go beyond training alone. Here is the story of one client engagement that called for much more than instructor-led training.

Our client was a small specialty healthcare organization, and it saw some need to improve performance in its patient contact center. The department was made up of contact center agents and a supervisor tasked with training them, monitoring performance, coaching, and delivering on revenue objectives. Senior management’s opinion was that their people could be doing more.

Learning Dynamics engaged in a detailed review of the workflow, the talent, and obstacles to success. By bringing in a Consultant with contact center management as well as learning and development experience, we were able to identify several opportunities to help. Our proposed solution included instructor-led patient service training, follow-up written training materials (Learning Dynamics Skills Sharpeners), and performance coaching for the supervisor. Significantly, our solution also included developing a call monitoring and evaluation tool so the supervisor had a standard process and criteria to evaluate performance.

The process of creating the call monitoring tool was itself revealing. Our Consultant sat with the supervisor, listened to recorded calls, and identified immediately some opportunities for improvement. One issue – extended and unnecessary hold times – was addressed immediately. The tool continues to be used for agent coaching and has helped produce great results.

This engagement also allowed us to demonstrate flexibility to respond to the client’s needs. Toward the end of the coaching period, a senior manager identified agents’ time management and prioritization skills as needing further development. Knowing that pulling all agents off the phones for a long class was not practical, we created a 45-minute webinar, delivered before the contact center opened for the day, that delivered the essentials of what the agents needed. The feedback has been terrific.

This story is just one example of our ability and willingness to collaborate with our clients to customize a solution that meets your organization’s unique needs. Connect with us today to start the conversation about Investing in People™.

Call 203.265.7499 or email

Prioritizing and Planning for Success

Time management is one of the popular topics we train our client organizations at Learning Dynamics. Managers and senior executives recognize their teams need the training and individual contributors and first-line supervisors realize they need it. Many feel overwhelmed by the demands of the day. They find themselves reacting rather than planning, responding to the latest crisis rather than investing their efforts into achieving important, lasting outcomes. Here are some ideas that resonate with our training participants.

Understanding the Difference Between the Urgent And the Important.

Reactive approaches typically find us on the work treadmill, sweating and straining to keep up while never getting anywhere. Urgency created in a reactive environment can burn people out and leave them frustrated as their goals never get closer. Good leaders should recognize when their people are simply responding, putting out fires, rather than working toward important outcomes. Coaching by leaders can make a big difference.

Taking Time to Plan

Less experienced employees frequently admit to not having a plan for their day and week. Instead, they show up to work and deal with things as they cross their desks. This might be appropriate in some roles, but for many working in our knowledge economy, one in which companies hire people for their ability to contribute at a level above the rote and routine, planning based on priorities must be part of the roadmap to success.

Knowing When to Say “No”

A critical skill among successful time managers is the ability to say “no” to certain activities. Typically the frivolous and distracting, these are time-wasters that deserve no time on the professional’s calendar. Managers can help their people think about and determine which items can be removed from the schedule and workplace by looking critically at the low-value tasks that can be eliminated or pushed further down in the organization (or out of it altogether).

Keeping Everyone in Their Pay Grade

A good indicator of whether a person is functioning at his or her level – and hopefully above – is the occasional check-in with that person’s job description. Is the employee fulfilling her roles and responsibilities, or is she spending time operating at a lower functional level? Frequently, this situation is the product of poor planning and prioritization, and a supportive manager can have the coaching conversation to keep that employee focused on higher-value functions that will help her or him and the entire organization reach its goals. (It could also uncover the need for additional resources to allow your talented thought workers more time to do what you are paying them to do.)

The sad truth is that many young professionals have never been exposed to the ideas of planning and prioritization and have no idea how to do it. With a small investment of a leader’s time, this next generation of your company’s managers can be working smarter by focusing on important, high-value activities to drive results, rather than low-value tasks that just fill the day.

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Learning Dynamics can help your company inspire better productivity and effectiveness with time management training. Ask us how today.

Do You Need to Have that Meeting?

LD Logo ArtWe have been working with clients to help them avoid contributing to the wasted time that comes with unnecessary and poorly planned meetings. A recent estimate pegs the number at $37 billion in the US alone. That’s every year! As we’ve gotten out and interacted with groups, we have found that employees feel that some meetings just do not need to happen. That’s a great place to start cutting into the $37 billion.

The first place to start is to ask the tough question: What’s the worst thing that happens if we don’t have the meeting? If you cannot come up with a compelling answer, that can be a clue that the meeting should be cancelled.

Second, consider some options to communicate that do not require getting everyone together in a real or virtual room. Could more information be put in writing and shared via email, shared folders, or some other channel that would eliminate the need for the meeting?

Third, evaluate the effectiveness of past meetings. What were the results of the last meeting? Were the time and effort put into them rewarded with clear outcomes and benefits? If not, why not? Did you plan it well? Does your team agree on goals and follow up to keep progress moving?

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See Five Steps to Conference Call Success to get the most out of those calls.

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Importantly, there are some political and power issues at play when it comes to meetings and conference calls. The scary issue for many is, “How can I tell my boss that this meeting is a waste of time?” This is very common when organizations have standing meetings.

Each meeting should stand on its own, whether it is a standing meeting or an exception. If there is important work to be done, critical information to be shared, a plan, and follow up, go for it! If it is a meeting just because we always have a meeting at 10 on Tuesdays, do the critical thinking and analysis and consider killing it – even if for just this one time.

Managers who go through this thought process will do three things that immediately benefit themselves and their people. First, they will give productive time back to their teams (who doesn’t want that?). Second, they will send the message that the meetings we do have are important. Third, and maybe most importantly, they demonstrate that “this is the way we have always done it” doesn’t have a place in their company.

Get your productivity back. Kill the bad meetings and make the rest productive and goal-focused.


Do you have ideas on how to boost the value of meetings? Have you ever cancelled a standing meeting? We would love to hear about it in our comments section.


Learning Dynamics can help your company get the most out of its meeting investment. Visit the Learning Dynamics website to learn more about Meetings that Drive Results.

Time Management Starts at the Top

HourglassTime management – or task management, depending on your perspective – is a perennial hot topic in employee performance conversations. How can we get more productivity from the team? How can we deliver this huge project without adding people? How can we get more done with the resources we have?

These are all valuable questions, and success at improving productivity using smarter time management techniques can pay big rewards. Keeping talented team members engaged in the important, rather than diving into the trivial, is a big part of the discipline. It must be said that senior leaders have a critical role to play, as well, by giving teams every opportunity to succeed. Here are some points to consider about how you and your organization’s executives lead, and how they might be hurting results.

Meetings. Everyone complains, “We have too many meetings!” Yet, we all continue to have them, and they are not all worthwhile. To be more direct, many are a waste of time, burning mountains of money. One estimate places the tab at $37 billion in lost salaries spent on bad meetings in the US alone. Before you have a meeting, ask yourself some questions. Do we need to have it? What if we don’t have a meeting? What will happen? Is there a better and more efficient way to communicate?

Schedules. Some organizations have moved to a work anywhere, anytime model, or at least flexible scheduling that respects employees’ lives and priorities. Are your people spending their best times – prime time when they are most mentally on – commuting or working a schedule that does not meet any business need other than “that’s the way we’ve always done it”?

Technology. This might seem like a no-brainer, but is worth a moment. Does your company have the technology – hardware, software and infrastructure – to be as efficient as possible? Conversely, are you clinging to old technology to save the capital expense, when an investment today can pay dividends for years to come.

Prioritization. Do your performance evaluations and management actions keep employees focused on the most important things? Do your senior leaders have a clear vision of what those things are? Do they explain the reasons for priorities to get buy-in from followers? Sometimes, realignment of priorities can get talented people moving more directly toward the goal. Try this: ask an employee at random, “What are you paid to do here?” Listen for the first response. Is it what you expected? Did the employee struggle? If you aren’t happy with the answer, look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Why doesn’t my team know what is important?”

We could generate a much longer list of time management traps, but this will get you started. Look at time management success as a priority for leadership and consider how your top people can make everyone more productive. It will be worth the effort.


Learning Dynamics offers custom learning and development programs on topics including time management and effective communication. Contact us today or visit our programs page to learn more.