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How to Keep your Team Motivated to Track Time, with Karsten Rasmussen – Episode 108

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Last updated Nov 3, 2023

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How to Keep your Team Motivated to Track Time, with Karsten Rasmussen – Episode 108

Last updated Nov 3, 2023 | 0 comments

Parakeeto

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This week, Karsten Rasmussen – founder of Time Jam – joins Marcel to discuss how you can create a lot of engagement in your team – even around a chore like time tracking – by using gamification and leveraging platforms like Slack or MS Teams.

About Karsten Rasmussen

Karsten used to run a 30-people agency and is now the founder of TimeJam, which helps agencies motivate their team to track their time daily through engagement – such as gamification, humor, and by making it social.

Karsten’s recently started to learn how to windsurf and is now, by his own admission, is now entirely addicted.

Points of Interest…

  • How TimeJam Differs to Other Time Management Tools 1:24
  • Issues Behind Timesheet Compliance 4:41
  • Psychological and Sociodynamics in Time Management 11:28
  • Wording is Everything 16:00
  • Clarity Around Timesheets is King 18:46

How TimeJam Differs from Other Time Management Tools

We spend so much time talking about the importance of time tracking and all the great things that you can do with time-tracking data. The recurring challenge that we see with our clients is getting their team to actually put the time into the system!

Therefore, I’m super excited to have TimeJam’s Karsten on the show because who doesn’t want time-tracking to be fun? So, how does that work?

“It’s not a time tracking solution, rather it’s a motivational system where we actually help people in the creative and marketing industry to get their act together and open up their time tracking app and put in the hours and have a good feeling.”

What I admire most about this approach is the fact that time tracking and project management are two of the industries in SaaS that are so ripe for a private equity roll-up. Time tracking, in particular. Somebody needs to start a private equity firm and start buying time-tracking companies – because there are way too many of them!

Why so many? Well, each company feels compelled to build its own time-tracking tool just to add one new feature unique to them. Karsten, in his infinite wisdom, didn’t do that. He simply built the feature and integrated it with the existing tools – because you don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to time tracking.

While you can’t track time on TimeJam (as inferred previously, it’s a pretty crowded space) it can be bolted on as a means to motivate your team to independently and repeatedly track their time.

“With TimeJam, we want to do something different. We want to work with habits, build team spirit, and the ability to leverage the behaviour already on platforms, such as Slack and Microsoft, to the benefit of the company.”

Issues Behind Team Timesheet Compliance

I want to dig into time-tracking compliance and the challenges people experience around this. Granted, the obvious answer is “Well, it’s just another thing to do”, but there are a lot more layers to the importance of tracking.

Naturally, I’m keen to find out what Karsten has seen people struggle with when it comes to getting compliance from their team on time sheets. What holds a team back from tracking time effectively?

“TimeJam is very heavily targeted towards the creative industry where you have creative professionals, that can do amazing stuff. But then you need to get them to stick their heads into an Excel sheet to input numbers on a daily basis. We have different approaches to this.”

Indeed, if you dive headlong into timesheet management without accounting for your team’s strengths and weaknesses, then – in Karsten’s opinion – you don’t know your team very well! Like, teamsheets don’t have to be lengthy, or laborious, and you don’t have to shunt a creative mindset into a factory process.

“I heard of a local company that was acquired, becoming part of a conglomerate of agencies, and they were forced to use Salesforce for time tracking. And I’m like, if you know some of the time tracking solutions out there – how beautiful, easy to use, and intuitive they are. Now, imagine you suddenly need to fire up Salesforce to track time at the end of the day…”

To Karsten’s point, every little bit of complexity, friction, and frisson of clarity loss introduced to a time-tracking system will have an exponentially negative effect on the process.

***We delve further into some of the fundamental issues behind timesheet compliance from 7:41***

Psychological and Sociodynamics in Time Management

Now that you and your team all agree that you’re tracking time for the right reasons (hours logged daily result in the most accurate data), plus established a way to make the process easier/more engaging to do, you now should address the psychological and socio-dynamic elements that exist around timesheet adherence. We did say it was layered!

What are some of the principles when it comes to building the habit of daily time management? Recognition, of course – but in the right context.

“I talked to one customer and they had – as part of their bonus scheme – you had to be a good time tracker in order to get their annual bonus! It didn’t work because a small daily task for a reward that is a year away. That is not how we work as humans.”

Instead, Karsten suggests having a regular open dialogue (be it every two weeks or once a month) to ascertain how the team is faring tracking time and how it’s impacting things. So, when you’re discussing how the data will be used, it needs to be in a more immediate sense. In short, your team needs to see the fruits of their labor in order to be motivated to continue tracking time accurately.

Building a strong process around accuracy and accountability creates a strong sense of ownership.

Side note: if you’ve got a process for how you go about defining your scopes for projects, it’s best that you install a regular cadence to review and tweak these numbers based on past performance as time goes on. The Agency Profit Toolkit is a free resource that has meeting templates that you could directly apply to this, among other goodies. Grab your copy below!

Wording is Everything

Now that we’ve underscored the importance of feedback loops in mitigating issues and motivating your team to fulfill their timesheet commitments, what else could possibly go wrong?! A few things, as it happens.

For instance, you could be at risk of creating (possibly further) resentment towards time management if you start using the team’s timesheets against them, stating “Hey, you only logged 30 hours last week, or, Hey, you went over budget on this project!” Everytime you’re using the word “you” in relation to timesheets, you’re pulling out the Jenga block that topples the whole tower on all of the work you’ve done to try and increase compliance!

In other words, don’t weaponize the data. Instead, something along the lines of “Hey, I noticed that it took longer than we expected to do this thing. What can we learn from that?” will elicit a more productive response. It’s the same question, just with. different positioning.

Remember: it’s not your employee’s job to hit their utilization target. It’s your job to give them enough work to do to hit their utilization target. Once you change that narrative and employ some of the great time-tracking tools that have calendar integrations, resource planning software, and device monitoring.

For example, Timley does device monitoring, calendar integrations, and can help augment a time sheet. How? By giving your team some insight into what they did throughout the day – chronicling the meetings they had, the emails they sent, and the projects they worked on within Asana.

Additionally, there’s a great integration with Harvest called Time Bro, These are all things that you could use in conjunction with Time Jam. So, when your team shows up to fill in their time sheets. 80% of the work is done for them already.

Clarity Around Timesheets is King

While it’s clear that how you approach timesheets is very important, what’s even more salient is the process in place for timesheets. Forgive me for the following bamboozlement of scenarios, but these are the things you need to be on top of in order to have the best data which, in turn, will increase your profitability.

The following needs to be clarified and addressed from the offset…

  1. Have you an expectation around rounding? Do you want people to track to the minute, to the 15-minute, or to the 30 minute increment? Is that different for one role or another?
  2. What about your account managers that spend five minutes on a random task and they’re hopping around to a bazillion things all day? The expectations might be different for them.
  3. Is it written down? (it should be…) Do you have clear documentation?
  4. Do you have clear SOPs on how to set up and track time and projects?
  5. Do you have clear definitions for each of the different task categories?

The more clarity you can create alongside the more assistance you can provide, the easier all this stuff will get in the longrun. Promise.

***We do deep-dive on the imperative merits of data-driven decision making from 19:29***

Key Takeaway…

Choose the right software and ensure your team comprehends exactly why they have to track time. Bring clarity to the proceedings and regular updates. These are the first-level principles in terms of Team Time Management.

Good time tracking habits within your team have a huge impact on the profitability of an agency and it is possible to improve these habits and still have a fun place to work!

Oh, and never forget – your wording around time sheets is of the utmost importance. The conversation you have around the time sheets to me is like one of the biggest things that will help either continue this trend, or really diminish it.

See more from Karsten…

Did you learn anything new from this episode? Let us know in the comments below! We have helpful blogs designed to bolster your agency profitability, such as How To Calculate Your Billable Employee Cost-Per-Hour.

Our next installment of #APP, on March 22nd, will see Marcel chat with Adam Rundle for our 109th edition. Our previous blog – Episode 107 with Jenny Plant – can be viewed here…

Avid #APP Listener?!

We would be eternally grateful if you could leave us a review…

Agency Profitability Tool Kit

If you’re looking for more resources to help you improve your agency’s profitability, check out the Agency Profitability Tool Kit. It’s full of templates and checklists used when consulting clients. This helps them improve profitability by over 100% in under 60 days.

Fill out the form below for your copy!

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