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By Curt Finch

My company sells employee time tracking software. We have helped companies implement these systems many times where the employees previously were unaccustomed to accounting for their time. At times this generated some intense emotions. Some people really don't want to track their time.

Why is this?

Reason One: Reporting time can threaten status.
For salaried people, especially if they been employed earlier in their life in an hourly "time clock" environment, reporting time can make them feel demoted. Conventional wisdom (that I disagree with) is that "professional" people are more trustworthy and less in need of supervision than "blue collar" people.

Reason Two: "What if I find out that I don't work as much as I like to think?" Some people, often the most productive people, garner self-esteem from the large number of hours they work. But sometimes they're not sure if they believe their own braggadocio and the thought of finding out the truth is scary.

Reason Three: Time is a bad metric for effort or productivity. Knowledge workers know that managers, who have the power to reward some people over others, often forget the vague and aggregated metrics of real productivity in favor of some simple numbers that are tangible, like time records. Managers may take the easy path of rewarding based on time spent rather than develop more subtle and appropriate metrics of real productivity. (hint: don't do this)

Reason Four: "I'm too busy" The most responsible busy employees - the most productive ones who's time is in highest demand - will, sooner or later, always have to stop doing the primary mission of the company to fill out a timesheet. The star employees tend to procrastinate regarding this task, subordinate it or even refuse to do it. Or worse, they'll create flawed records. On the other hand, the malingerers and marginal producers will often create perfect time records and never submit them late. This fact of life creates an impression in the minds of both that the whole exercise is worthless.

So it's an imperfect world. And people hate tracking their time for many reasons. But how can you possibly run a project oriented organization, especially one that bills for it's time, without
time accounting? The answer is that in this increasingly competitive world, you can't, at least not for long. If you don't get every hour billed that should be, if you don't know which projects are profitable and which ones aren't, you're going down. Hard. Because somewhere in your wide array of competitors is a company that's getting it right.

Next time we'll discuss how to cut through these problems and make it all work.

Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx.


Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx. Bruce A. McGraw is the CEO of Cognitive Technologies.
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