We are certainly not the first organization to struggle with getting everyone to fill in their time sheets.
We’ve tried a variety of methods. Among other things, we implemented a very sophisticated project management software (AtTask, which we are very happy with). AtTask makes time tracking very easy to do. And yet, this little chore seems to run utterly counter to the natural inclinations of creative people, so it still finds a way NOT to get done.
We have tried asking nicely, “Have you done your nice time sheet today?” We have tried telling regularly, “Time sheets everyone?” We’ve tried assigning a person to go check & cajole each and every day, “You did your time sheet today, right?” Through all this, somehow, consistent compliance has always eluded us.
Enter the piggies.
Rewards and punishments
The reward: We established a company-wide goal (the details of which we will reveal when we have achieved it). With the achievement of that goal comes a reward for everyone. We are all contributing to its accomplishment.
We have furthermore all agreed that not filling in time sheets is an inhibiting factor for the achievement of our stated goal. So it was proposed not long ago that we institute a token—but still real—punishment for not doing what we all agree we should.
The punishment: If someone has not completed the previous day’s time sheet by the time of our regular 10AM status meeting, they publicly (voluntarily) and at that very moment put $5 in the “This piggy did no time sheet.” piggy. (The other one is for being late to the same status meeting.)
The punishment seems to work not because it’s big like, “You will be fired if you don’t do it.” but rather because it is small and concrete.
Sad to say it, but this actually works. I find it interesting that the punishment seems to work not because it’s big like, “You will be fired if you don’t do it.” but rather because it is small and concrete. It’s simply the public act of sticking a five-dollar bill into the piggy each and every time you do not do what you have agreed to do. No excuses.
Time sheet compliance has dramatically improved (holding at 100% right now), and most importantly, it seems to be seeping gradually into the behavioral culture of the organization. Soon vanished will be the once upon a never time sheeters. And one day not too long in the future, the piggy’s services will no longer be required. Time sheets will just be part of what everyone does every day.
Is there something in your organization that you’ve found hard to implement, and that has required a “creative” solution? Do tell.
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