Our top designer has no time management at all. His boss isn’t on site all the time to manage him. It might help if the guy managing the back could also manage our designer, but I don’t think that’s realistic because they don’t really cross paths all day. If no one is on him to find out where he is, he’ll just work on something all day – need to keep him working on the right things at the right level. What should we do?
THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: Set a method for estimating the amount of time allowed for design on each project. Recognize that sometimes creative activities can take longer than expected and when they do, have a plan to break through the stickiness. Take a look at tools that can help.
Demand that the salespeople establish parameters for each project they’re handing over to your designer. Give the salespeople a form to fill out and turn in on each project. Include on that form one or more questions about how much did they budget for creative expenses and what does that represent in terms of hours to be spent on creative activities.
Start each day with the designer, mapping out what projects are waiting to be worked on and how much time is allowed for each. Have the designer keep notes on where he is versus that plan, and ask him to send a text or email at midday reporting on progress.
Hold a weekly meeting to review the overall flow of work. Keep a calendar with notations for big projects that might come in so everyone can see where a jam-up in workload might happen.
Realistically assess the amount of work your designer has on his plate. Only book 60 percent of his time, allowing 20 percent flextime for outside-the-box thinking and another 20 percent for downtime. See if the workload fits into that equation or if your designer is overbooked, in which case you might need to locate additional design support.
If you need additional design help, look inside the company first. Is there anyone who has shown interest in the design job who could be trained to take over some of the designer’s tasks? Can some of the work the designer does be offloaded onto someone else in the company? When you run out of internal options, don’t ignore the problem. Start interviewing freelance designers who can provide assistance when needed.
Look for tools that can be used to predict and manage the workload and other tools to increase efficiency. Are you using the latest design software? Has your designer been to school to learn how to best use the software? Connect with other design firms to compare notes on tools they use to stay on top of their work.
Spend some time laying out the activities that your designer goes through on every project. Is there a bottleneck where some or all of the projects get hung up? Are there any shortcuts that could be taken along the way? Would changing the order of the activities make it easier to push work through? If your designer sent out emails at 4 p.m. every day asking for feedback and updates on questions, would the answers be waiting in his in-box the next morning so he could get right to work?
Look at your designer’s work area. Is it neat and organized? Can he easily find things? Can he work without interruption? Does he have enough room to lay out his work? Can he lay out multiple projects at once? Try to get enough workspace so that the answer to every question is “Yes!”
BOOK RECOMMENDATION: “Manage Your Day-To-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind” by Jocelyn K. Glei.
Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc., StrategyLeaders.com, a business-consulting firm that teaches companies how to double revenue and triple profits in repetitive growth cycles. Have a question for AskAndi? Wondering how Strategy Leaders can help your business thrive? Call or email for a free consultation and diagnostics: 877-238-3535 or AskAndi@StrategyLeaders.com. Check out our library of business advice articles at AskAndi.com.