Getting Time on Your Side

Achieving Timekeeping Compliance in a Marketing Firm

Well, this is typically the time when you make New Year's Resolutions, and maybe one of those is timekeeping compliance. But rather than starting with the thinking behind all this, we'll save that for last and instead dive right into some suggestions on how to get better participation. If you're an employee (vs. a principal) reading this, you might want to feather your own bonus bed by taking the lead here and rallying the troops. That sort of sucking up never goes unnoticed. (Though you may never again be asked to join your peers at lunch.)

Before giving you specific suggestions, though, let me note that these are presented in reverse order. That's because none of them have any teeth unless the last one (getting fired) is a legitimate possibility. That sounds harsh, I know, but there it is. The goal isn't to fire employees--the goal is to make money in an environment that doesn't kill creativity. There are many steps that lead up to that harshest of options, but it is there at the end of the steps.

Here's what we've found to be effective in timekeeping compliance.

Escalating War on Deadbeat Timekeepers

So those are the steps I'd use. Start by asking yourself if you'd be willing to take the most severe step. If you would, start at the least severe and just work the list. Whatever plan you come up with, make sure it's consistent in application, it is collaborative as you seek solutions, and that you stage your responses, from friendly grandparent to ruthless czar.

And now that we have that out of the way, here's more about the thinking behind it.

Best Practices in Compliance

There are endless details in a good timekeeping policy, but here are some of the basics.

Foundational Question

But really, why should you track time in the first place? Many of the firms that track time hardly make any money, so there's obviously no direct connection there. And some of the most profitable firms I've seen don't track time, or at least don't take it seriously.

Here's the thing, though -- until you're making a lot of money by submitting ridiculously high estimates with big round numbers, you've got to start with the basics so that your estimating gets better. And while money is the currency of respect in a business setting, timekeeping is the currency of making money until your positioning takes over and obviates the need for it.

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