Guest post by Jerry Zheng, Chief Word Wizard & Editorial Champion at Homebase
When it comes to running an effective and efficient business, having good time management is absolutely essential. It’s something that needs to be instilled in employees from the get-go; so much so that it’s seen as an integral part of the workplace philosophy.
But it’s not just about managing time well throughout your day. Another really important factor for trainers to consider is the role of time tracking in elevating training outcomes.
Training staff, whether it’s on-site or off, when they first start work, or during their time of service, is going to significantly influence their performance. Trainers that incorporate time tracking into their programs can enhance not only the overall program but future results and performance, too.
What Is Time Tracking?
Time tracking is a process whereby you record the amount of time spent on various activities and tasks. That is, you record when you start and when you finish so that you’re aware of exactly how long you spent on a task. You can do this manually, or by means of digital tools and software.
There are several different contexts in which time tracking is useful—we’re obviously talking about training programs within the workplace environment. Thus, it provides a systematic and accurate way in which you can analyze the way time gets allocated to certain activities so that you can gain insight into productivity, progress, and general efficiency.
As a trainer, you should already have experience in how long a session will take, the material you’re covering in a workshop, and the length of time you can dedicate to Q and A and feedback collection. However, there are so many other ways tracking time can improve your training and your trainee's experience while equipping them with skills they can carry forward too.
How Time Tracking Improves Training Outcomes
At the end of the day, time tracking, whether you’re doing it manually or digitally, allows you to gain valuable insights and ideas on how to optimize your performance. When it comes to training, it’s really important that both trainers and trainees are using their time wisely and efficiently. The desired outcome is for those being trained to gain the knowledge they need in the most efficient and effective way possible, and for the trainer to meet this goal.
Here are some ways in which time tracking can contribute to improving training outcomes:
If trainees focus on their use of time and the management thereof, they’ll be able to concentrate better at the appropriate times. It’ll also be easier for them to manage distractions (and try to avoid them entirely), as well as to try not to multitask.
Most of all, if a trainee is well aware of when they need to be concentrating hard, it’ll be far easier to devote a certain amount of time to doing the training without getting distracted or allowing themselves to be distracted.
As a trainer, you can also ensure that concentration is at a maximum. Restrict the use of mobile phones, ensure that trainees are not focusing on other work-related tasks, and limit sessions to specific times to reduce fatigue. Ensure that your sessions are blocked out on a calendar and employees can dedicate themselves entirely to learning during this time.
At the end of the day, this can only lead to improved outcomes with regard to the purpose of the training.
2. The Allocation of Time and Prioritization
By specifically considering which tasks or parts of the training schedule require more time than others, trainees can then allocate their time far more efficiently. It enables effective prioritization so that they can spend the right amount of time on the most important parts of training and they can spend less time on less important tasks or modules.
Without having planned this, it becomes easy to accidentally put too much focus on the wrong tasks and then not have enough time for the important work at the end.
Trainers can assist here by suggesting timelines for specific tasks and by ensuring that the material is suited to the time given. While trainees need to learn how to allocate and prioritize time, if the tasks they're doing differ from the norm, guidance is hugely helpful.
3. Planning and Goal Setting
Planning and goal setting are certainly linked to the idea of allocating time efficiently, as we’ve just discussed. But it goes one step further when considering goals.
By deciding how much time to spend on different parts of the training program, trainees will be able to consider their goals and objectives in the short term and long term. Having clearly defined goals makes it far easier to achieve them. It also helps to boost team morale, which in turn will improve productivity.
For trainers, guidance is useful here too. You can help your trainees set goals at the start of a session or workshop to ensure that they’re aware of the overarching aims. The way you plan your training sessions will also set an example for time management and the achievement of goals, and highlight what’s possible during a specific timeframe.
4. Monitoring Performance
For trainers, it’s sometimes difficult to know exactly how much time you need to spend on each section of training. You can’t always plan everything perfectly, especially if you’re explaining complex policies and procedures or challenging new concepts or systems. Thus, once you’ve allocated time and actually spent the time doing the training, it’s always great to monitor your performance. You can then compare the time you planned on spending with the time you actually spent.
This way, you’ll be able to identify ways that you can improve in the future so that your training can be further optimized.
5. Receiving Feedback and Reflecting on It
If a business uses tools like time clocks, trainers can use time-tracking data to analyze how time is spent efficiently. This is especially useful in a workplace with shifts, as you can track work times and determine what’s going right and what can be improved. Thereafter, you can provide trainees with personalized feedback.
As a trainer, this allows you to highlight strengths and weaknesses, and trainees will have the opportunity to reflect on their own time management so that they can change their behavior accordingly as well.
It's always a good idea to ask trainees for feedback, too. They might have different insights into the way time is used and what counts as an efficient use thereof. As a trainer, you can learn not only from data but from personal input and experience, too.
6. Being Able to Identify Weaknesses and Inefficiencies
By monitoring time usage, you can identify parts of your training programs that some trainees may be having trouble with, or if there are any tasks that take up excessive time. Additionally, it may help you to identify parts of your program that are not yielding the desired results so that you can make changes and improvements in the future.
Of course, once these things have been identified, you can move forward and do your best to get rid of those weaknesses and improve your training program.
7. Developing Time Management Skills
As with anything in life, the more you practice time allocation and managing your time, the better you’re going to get at it. This is a skill that trainers can teach trainees, whether it’s by example or as part of a session.
By nurturing time management skills and showing trainees how to use their time efficiently, it’ll become easier for them to estimate how long tasks are going to take, manage deadlines on their own, and make good use of their free time.
8. Making Decisions Based on Data
Having the results of time tracking as concrete data always makes it easier to understand what’s going on, what's going wrong, and how you can make informed data-driven decisions going forward.
This way, the information and data can be available clearly to trainers and trainees so that adjustments can be made to training strategies and resources can get reallocated. It’ll also help to optimize workflows and streamline efficiency.
Trainers who use data to inform future sessions can refine them based on facts and ensure that they provide the best possible learning experience for attendees.
Time tracking and training go hand-in-hand. As a trainer, if you want to maintain focus and ensure the best outcomes, you need to implement time-tracking principles into your training programs. The results will not only benefit you and your trainees but the business as a whole, too.