Thursday, February 10, 2005

Meeting Deadlines

Knowledge @ Emory brings a good collection of articles from the events and professors at Emory University and mostly from the Goizueta Business School.

Giuseppe (Joe) Labianca at Goizueta Business School together with Henry Moon has researched on the concept of time as perceived by people and how that understanding is important in project planning and meeting deadlines.

The ultimate goal of this type of research, suggests Labianca, is to provide team leaders with a better understanding of how starting times and ending times might influence both individual and group processes and outputs. Managers, adds Labianca, need to recognize that we are all synchronized with these temporal milestones, and must therefore consider the clock in project planning. “As mentioned, I saw this in my own work behavior. If somebody said, ‘Do this project and you’ve got a week,’ and I got it at an atypical time, I didn’t get to work immediately,” says Labianca. “That’s what you kept seeing with the folks in our experiments. They were lost in time. If management is going to give people something at an atypical time, they should provide them with some kind of visual temporal map, like a PERT diagram, to plan out how much time to spend on various phases. I would venture to guess that even with such a map that there might still be some kind of phenomena happening that would lead the employees to pace themselves poorly.”

When I was managing the various financial services projects in ADP India for investment banks like Goldman Sachs and Bank of America one thing which was very important was to meet deadlines and follow strict quality guidelines.

If I had know about this piece of work before I would have behaved differently.

In the course of our day we have different stress periods. Some parts of the day are filled with work and other parts are mostly calm. The periods after lunch or dinner (in the case of night shifts) is where people work slower. Then we need to account for holidays, weekends, personal days like birthday, anniversaries, company parties etc.

I should have included these patterns in my project planning which would help my team members to complete the projects better and also sync it with their body clocks, moods, physiology, mental make up and help in the increase in performance of the individuals and the entire group.

This is an important work. I am sure the paper, “When Is an Hour Not Sixty Minutes? Deadlines, Temporal Schemas, and Individual and Task Group Performance.” when published in the Academy of Management Journal will be widely read and used.


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