Self empowerment and the empowerment of others

‘Managing ME is the first step for the self developer – unless I take charge of myself how can I take charge of situations? Unless I can create order in myself, how can I contribute to creating order with others? Managing ME first is the key of self empowerment and the empowerment of others’

The success of an organisation is determined by how one manages effectively through the various resources available. In an organisation comprising of many functional groups with different levels of aspirations and competencies, the focus on effective management is critical to accomplish a set of goals or objectives. Therefore, it is essential for one to constantly develop one’s knowledge and skills as part of the continuous process of self development. This in turn will not only lead to management development but also contribute towards the organisational development. However, in this current challenging climate, how does one accomplish these targets effectively?

One of the most effective ways will be through the proper use of personal capital, which is time. Time is a precious commodity and is deemed as one of the most useful resources, besides people, finance and machinery, which managers are accountable and responsible for in achieving objectives (Ruin, 2009). However, the first step in seeking to manage time more efficiently is to become aware of the importance and the value of time. The art of managing time effectively is a skill that can be learned and by constantly reviewing and adapting, one can keep work and life more organised.

In this essay, the author will be discussing on managing one’s self through effective time management as the key tool to self empowerment and the empowerment of others. The empowerment of good time management practices among employees will create room for personal development in producing faster, better and smarter results; hence developing one’s potential in contributing towards the organisational development.

There are many advantages in mastering effective time management. As mentioned by Lawson (2009), people can achieve more by controlling time rather than allowing time to control them. By focusing on the objectives and being aware of the main obstacles to getting things done on time, frustration and stress can be eliminated. Effective time planning can also help to complete burdensome tasks and shed guilty feelings especially when the tasks are not completed as scheduled.

Apart from that, energy levels can be boosted, thus increasing efficiency levels leading to better results. Quality time can be gained too to pursue hobbies, sports or to spend more time with family and friends. Although most people understand that positive results can be obtained from the proper use of time, why do people then still fail at time management?

In order to answer that, it is essential to understand the main obstacles of time management, namely, failure to establish goals and objectives, failure to prioritise in order of importance, ineffective scheduling, no self-knowledge on assessing how time is spent on certain tasks, little understanding of time-wasters, spending too much time on activities that produce minimal results, inability to delegate, poor communication skills and inability to leverage (Lawson, 2009).

The author would argue that one of the biggest barriers to effective time management will be a failure to establish goals and objectives for one’s professional and personal lives. The process of defining goals can be an eye-opener as one is forced to focus on what is really important in one’s life. Once clarity emerges, it will be easier to look forward towards one’s aspirations and this gives confidence to strive towards higher and more difficult goals.

A useful way of making goals more powerful is to use the SMART mnemonic: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. As an example, if one wants to become a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), it is best to express this goal as: “To be the CEO of this organisation by 1st January 2015”. By creating this clear fixed goal, one will be able to feel more involved as ‘wants’ is turned into a concrete statement and expressed as “to be…”, which is more precise and has a timeframe (Manktelow, 2006). Goals are also best to be written down as this visualisation process creates a mental picture and deemed as the cornerstone to effective time management.

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Once goals are defined and visualised wherever possible, it is important to break these down into smaller tasks by thinking creatively about the different aspects of them and finding means to translate these goals into reality. However, should goals become unrealistic due to unforeseen circumstances, one should know when to abandon and substitute them with other goals. As Bird (2008) mentioned, moving on from unrealistic aims is also a great time management skill.

Apart from defining goals and objectives, the author would emphasise that the secret of success in time management is setting priorities. This is further supported by Manktelow (2006), who states that prioritisation is the key to time management, which propels reaction mode to action mode, thus helping in not wasting valuable time on less important choices. As much as this seems to be a simple exercise, the author would argue that it is easy to lose perspective as life is filled with an abundance of things to do, which normally results in one facing challenges when deciding which should take precedence.

One way out of this and to stay afloat as mentioned by Bird (2008), will be to look at the task lists including goals and intermediate objectives as well as daily and weekly ‘to dos’. It is good to allow a certain amount of time each day towards achieving long-term projects or goals whereas the intermediate objectives of the goals can be allocated time slots on a regular basis to work on them steadily. The rest of the urgent work can be done as quickly as possible to meet any deadlines. Other less important tasks can be done after attending to urgent tasks and working towards the long-term goals.

Although this is somewhat seen as a seemingly tedious task to be performed and mastering this particular skill will need enormous discipline and sustaining power, the author would agree that by attending to these tasks in the most sensible order, the management of time can be improved immeasurably. Once priorities have been identified, one has to schedule them effectively at the most productive time of one’s day to yield the most desired results.

Another important step in managing time is to track how an individual is actually spending time. Without formally assessing how one spends the average working hours, one cannot change the approach to work or modify the amount of time and effort spent on certain tasks. A useful exercise will be to record the minutiae of the day and calculate time spent on different tasks and the hourly rate with overheads as mentioned explicitly by Manser (2010). However, the author would argue that this requires a great level of conscious effort and needs to be inculcated as a routine practice in order to be effective.

Another useful method as mentioned by Bird (2008) will be applying the Pareto’s principle, which is the golden rule of time management. This principle suggests that 80 percent of results achieved are generated by 20 percent of effort or to put in another way, 80 percent of effort goes into producing just 20 percent of results. Therefore one needs to recognise the difference between trivial or critical activities.

As Kalachulu (1999) mentioned, by concentrating more on critical activities, huge results can be produced as opposed to trivial things. However, the author would agree that, in order for one to rise above this rule, one must not only focus on efforts on high-return tasks but also ensure to not waste valuable time on low priority or low pay-off tasks

Once all the support systems are in place towards achieving the goals and all clutters removed, the main barriers that might stand in one’s way will be one’s own self and other people. Therefore one needs to identify the time-wasters and deal with them to put things in perspective. Most time barriers can be classified into three categories such as interruptions, perfectionism and procrastination, which blocks one’s effort to keep tasks on schedule (Manktelow, 2006).

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Interruptions may arise in the form of other people competing for one’s time and attention and throwing one’s schedule off course. Other people’s needs and requests can stop one from proceeding with one’s own predetermined plans (Manktelow, 2006). If this happens frequently, the author would suggest that keeping an interrupter’s log will be useful, then analyse them and make a decision whether it is a valid interruption. If it is, earmark a slot in the daily plan, which can then become a defined task, catered for in one’s schedule.

Perfectionism is about trying to present a perfect work when satisfactory will prove good enough (Manktelow, 2006). With regard to this, in order to put a task in perspective, the author would encourage one to take a step back and ponder how much a little more effort is going to make a difference and whether pursuing further will force one to take time away from another important activity. If so, one should set clear deadlines and stop expanding unnecessarily, then move on to other tasks.

Another form of time-wasting or the fine art of putting things off is known as procrastination, which is a form of self sabotage. This often happens due to various reasons namely, unclear goals; no deadline set for the particular work; the task is routine and hence boring; too much of work as one does not know where to start and fear of failure or rejection should one perform badly (Manser, 2010). However, Stack (2010) stated, one should find ways to break through the barrier of extended procrastination and visualise the greatness it brings along especially when the task is completed within the timeframe.

Whether interruptions, perfectionism or procrastination holds one back, the author would argue that having a proper appreciation of the value of time is an essential step towards good time management. It is good to place a value on each task one does and where possible, focus on tasks that bring greater value and delegate the rest. This leaves one free to focus on jobs that require the most attention. Delegation entails giving others authority for work which one is ultimately responsible (Lawson, 2009). Why then people are often reluctant to distribute workload to others?

Sometimes it could be due to lack of confidence in others, the desire to feel indispensable and not wanting to dump work on others especially when under pressure. However, one needs to come to terms that there is a limit to the amount of tasks one can perform. Therefore applying effective delegation, which is about getting the right people to do things the right way and at the right time, would be a possible solution (Kalachulu, 2010). However, one should also consider the prevailing workload of the person one chooses for task delegation to ensure one is able to obtain results optimally.

Delegation, besides empowering others, can enhance an employee’s growth. However, delegation is not only merely telling someone else what to do but one needs to also provide necessary support and guidance. One should make time to keep track of the task progression by constantly communicating the expected results and offering advice if needed. The inability to communicate succinctly and openly can lead to long delays in tasks being improperly done and cause further delays. It is also important to motivate team members by praising when due, thus leading to better performance through positive encouragement.

Besides delegation, Manktelow (2010) stated that leveraging is another means of stretching time, which encompasses not only an individual but others as well in order to raise the results bar in time management. In addition to this, leveraging is explained as taking full advantage of the available resources such as knowledge, technology, money and one’s or other people’s time to optimise performance and achieve results in excess of the time that one puts in, cited in Dixon (2010).

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However, the author would argue that in order to leverage one’s time, it is advisable to carry out a leverage SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis, where one can analyse one’s strengths and the available resources one can access. Then identify one’s weaknesses with respect to leverage, the opportunities that these open up for one and the possible threats one is exposed to. Once this analysis is performed, one must act appropriately to manage time effectively.

On the other hand, in leveraging other people’s time, one needs to learn to empower and develop others to be more efficient by giving proper coaching to close gaps or sending people to relevant training to enrich knowledge and learn from others. A lot more can be harnessed through time leveraging and it is considered as the fundamental element for time management’s success (Manktelow, 2006).

Many aspects of effective time management techniques and skills have been discussed by the author to keep work and life organised. By applying time management techniques effectively, one can regain control of time and ensure that one is in charge of how time is spent and used in the most productive and smart way. Once these skills have been mastered to strike above the goals and objectives set, how can then one apply these to empower others?

In order to answer that, the author would argue that every employee regardless of levels needs to be responsible in undertaking the relevant role effectively towards achieving the organisational goal. On the other hand, it is crucial for organisations to create shared vision and common direction. One would be more empowered when the work performed contributes to a common purpose and shares a vision of what it means to achieve that common purpose. In an atmosphere where empowerment is valued, the best approach towards eliminating conflicts will be shared vision.

Each person working in an organisation has uniqueness and excellence. Therefore the author would argue that one needs to learn how to empower by allowing the employee to use these unique skills to manage conflicts or solve issues. Many might have viable suggestions for ways to perform more efficiently since employees have the benefit of hands-on experience on a daily basis. Therefore, it is advisable to listen to employees’ opinions.

A properly planned working day and environment frees one to observe the bigger picture, take note of the staff’s needs and what an individual can offer. It also enables one to take a step back and envisage what one can do without seeking reassurance. One becomes more in control of the day and it is this control and the knowledge that important things are accomplished that empowers one to move forward at work. Empowered staffs do not take up the manager’s time by continually asking for advice to take action in areas that are under the staff’s purview.

In this essay, the author concludes that time management empowers both the individual and other people. Empowered staff will see tasks given as a vested interest and will ensure that cooperation among the other staff of the organisation is maximised and procrastination avoided, which is crucial to ensure one stays on course in order to achieve targets set.

Therefore, one should avoid feeling disempowered with time as this exemplifies powerlessness to others, which may breed an organisational culture of reprisal or fear of failure. Managers on the other hand can empower by delegating appropriately and inculcating confidence in people. This is because empowerment results in confidence and the gained confidence can lead to more empowerment.

Time is an intangible resource, which people are constantly getting less of. Therefore one’s vision ought to be to empower one’s self then empower others to get more out of the time available. This can further enhance one’s personal development in managing time proficiently, thus contributing towards the efficiency of management development and generating extraordinary results, which in turn leads to effective organisational development.

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