Ask a manager what the biggest challenge is, and odds are you will hear some variation on his or her ability to manage deadlines, production schedules and their employees' use of time [source: West]. The importance of effective time management can't be overstated. Of all the resources at our disposal, time is the most fleeting. And once it's gone, it doesn't come back. So capitalizing on the time available, and using any means necessary to do so, has become a focus area for organizations.
Time management is an area that bleeds into all areas of someone's life. It's rare to find a person who makes effective use of time on the job but slacks off at home. You're either good at it or you're not: you can't compartmentalize this part of your personality for use when it's most convenient. And poor time management -- above poor communication and even poor project management -- can wreak havoc in and out of the workplace. Blown deadlines can mean being held back at work and can be just as disruptive in one's personal life -- damaging finances, relationships and even health and well-being [source: Time Management Guide].
But even the most inefficient time managers can be taught some tips and tricks to help get more out of their 24 hours each day. Employers are recognizing this and the value that comes with a time-conscious workforce. Proper time management in the office can impact everything from the bottom line (which will get the attention of management) to morale (which will get the attention of the staff).
Like communications skills, time management is something that virtually everyone can improve. So how does a company determine if they want to offer specialized training and, if they do, which employees will receive it?
The trick is to determine where an organization's training investment will see the best return. One way to do this is by looking at personnel and bucketing them into one of four categories: solid performers, star performers, poor performers and underachievers. Conventional wisdom says the biggest training investment should be made in the star performers since they clearly have the skills and enthusiasm to succeed [source: Coach 4 Growth]. That's a good place to start, but research shows that underachievers should also get some of the professional development attention [source: Coach 4 Growth].
The reason for this is that underachievers represent the biggest potential incremental improvement. They're underachieving for a reason, so isolating that and fixing it could mean big improvement. Star performers should be invested in not because they stand to improve dramatically, but also because employees respond favorably to being selected for professional development [source: Coach 4 Growth ]. This recognition can lead to higher morale, increased job satisfaction and higher retention of the best and brightest.
In the next section, we'll take a look at stress management and how effectively dealing with this can impact an organization.