15.08.2005 Feature Article

A Minister of State Admonishes His Sector Elements On Time Management

A Minister of State Admonishes His Sector Elements On Time Management
15.08.2005 LISTEN

A Requirement for Whole-of-Government

Reference: News of Monday, 1 August 2005.

The Minister for Health, Major Courage Quashigah (Rtd) rightly stated “ If Ghana is to increase its productivity, workers in all sectors need to change their attitude, since time is necessary for wealth creation”.

Those who have had the privilege of undertaking any business and management studies and therefore have gained insights into general management perspectives and practices would be in agreement with the creative and forward–looking Minister.

For example execution of Project Management requires three very important management tools: “on time”, “on budget” and “to the required quality”. For any organisation (public or private) to be business-like, accountable and outcome-driven these three management requirements need to be factored into the equation of the management style and operations. Toying with any single one of these core management ingredients would result in disaster for the entity. For the private sector it may lead to insolvency and/or bankruptcy, whilst the public sector may not be in a position to provide the citizens with goods and services as required by the government policy.

One of the side benefits that planning offers as a result of improved focus and flexibility, coordination, and control in our personal affairs is better time management. When you look at it critically the whole day is a series of choices. These choices have to be made in ways that allocate your time to the most important priorities. In other words one has to work to optimise one's time.

Most of us have experienced and do experience the difficulties of balancing available time with the many commitments and opportunities we would like to fulfil. Each day we are bombarded by a multitude of tasks and demands in a setting of frequent interruptions, crises and unexpected events - particularly the manager and minister's job is especially subject to such complications. In these circumstances it is easy to lose track of time and fall prey to what consultants identify as “time wasters”. In the process, too many of us allow our time to be dominated by other people and/or by what can be considered as non-essential activities. Most of us have been students before and no one knows this better that the college student who is trying to prepare for final examinations, even as the day-to-day life in the dormitories proceeds as normal.

Some people maintain “to do” lists that are typically packed full of items. One key to time management and performance success, according to management literature, is to determine which “to dos” are the priorities, and then address them. You should always attend first to the things that are most urgent and important. By so doing you will use your time productively and will not waste other people's time when others are involved in the process. A case in point is what the Hon.Minister had to endure by wasting a sizeable portion of his scarce resource (TIME) waiting for some of the award recipients. What a ripple effect!

We shouldn't forget to invest our time wisely by always working on important rather than unimportant things. In this regard we can do simple benchmarking by looking at other people, and admiring their focus, effectiveness and drive; their organisational skills and how they always seem to do the right thing at the right time in the right way.

We all are familiar with the slogan 'African Time' - sadly enough, in a negative sense – arriving at scheduled meetings, seminars, conferences, church conventions etc one hour plus late with no tangible reasons. In the corporate world these time slippage can result in cost overruns as a result of management not convening a meeting to take a decision at the right time vis-à-vis currency exchange rates, change in government policies, inflations, industrial relation issues, etc.

In this light one may not be far from wrong if one deduces from these time management theories that poor time management is one of the management ingredients contributing to the bane of Africa's economic development.

Let's endeavour to conscientiously discard our culture of time mismanagement (African Time) and make time for positive change and for success. Charles Agyeman Manu MEng, MAppSc, MBA Assistant Director Professional Development, Australian Public Service Member, Australian Institute for Governance, Canberra. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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