CEO To CEO: Time Management Policies
Expectations, Culture, and Team Interactions
Big Picture Considerations:
1) Building a business is a marathon, not a sprint. And businesses involved with engaging people in crisis are particularly vulnerable to burnout. Guarding against burnout, for everyone in your organization, is a primary concern that practically involves time management. You want a well-rounded personal life for each person in your organization–a balance including downtime and room for restorative pursuits.
2) Too little attention is as dangerous as too much. Slow and steady wins the race. Yes, passion is a crucial element to success–especially great success. It just has to get channeled. If you are trained in ABA principles, apply them to yourself and to your team–lots of reinforcements, frequent little celebrations, and time for friends and families so that the mission doesn’t swallow you.
1) Regular business hours–9:00-5:00 Monday-Friday matter. Most emergencies that require prompt attention (other than possible events occurring during the provision of services on scheduled nights or weekends) will come up during regular business hours. That’s when Hi-5 ABA staff are generally available. That’s when insurance companies are in operation. That’s when banks, licensing boards, and other related businesses expect to interact with you. Beyond regular business hours, most work should be voluntary so that everyone on your team can schedule and engage in non-work-related life interests. Exceptions may apply if you provide services during evenings/weekends, but that too is a choice. If your practice offers services during non-business hours, we recommend establishing firm scheduling commitments from clients and techs in advance so that everyone has a sense of when they are on-call and when they are not.
2) Flex-time can work, especially when admin staff operate from home. Hi-5 ABA admin staff often work nights and weekends, but generally only on a voluntary basis. They are committed to a minimum total of 35-40 hours/week. Senior management often work up to 50 hours/week. Those consistently working more than 50 hours/week are strongly cautioned to check themselves and moderate their pace. Extended patterns of working much more than 50 hours/week tend to become counter-productive. Too little sleep or deficiencies in personal time diminishes the capacity for top performance.
3) Prompt communication between those working closely together is powerful. Those of us working from home are urged to watch texts closely for urgent concerns so that opportunities and momentum aren’t defused or lost. Less urgent matters are managed via email. Our corporate standard is to check and promptly respond to all emails at least twice/day–those received by 9:00 a.m. and those received by 5:00 p.m.
Create and Communicate Your Preferred Culture:
Whether you own a practice, run a team, or are an individual within a team, you will have certain preferences. Some love working at night. Some don’t! Some enjoy remaining in touch pretty much 24/7, while most need time when they are free to completely ignore all things work–especially during weekends, holidays, and vacations. There is room for diversity, even within a team; the key is for everyone to communicate their own style and cultural preferences.
Static vs. Dynamic Team Interaction:
Many clinicians are highly schedule-driven. A well-run calendar is great for efficiency in terms of good billable-hours numbers and clean, smooth-running provision of services. A steady, static approach to time management is a practical, relatively easy way to operate a business, and some of your people will find anything else uncomfortable, if not unacceptable.
Building strong, world-changing businesses, on the other hand, invariably requires a dynamic culture that accommodates the unexpected and rapidly changing circumstances–especially for owners and senior management. Read biographies about hugely successful start-ups and you’ll see teams working all-nighters for crazy amounts of time to win contracts and achieve “impossible” goals. Like doctors working 100 hour-weeks through their early years, and young legal associates of big-name law firms who do the same, an all-in lifestyle which eats, drinks, and sleeps work is a dominant theme for folks aiming to turn the world upside down.
But as dynamically oriented as I (David Maddox) am personally toward business, and as appreciative as I am toward the senior staff of Hi-5 ABA
who are at least somewhat flexible in the same direction, my experience and view of the ABA field tell me that those similarly attracted to a dynamic style must exercise consistent caution. Too much work burns people out. Nobody is immune. Flexibility has enormous advantages, but humility insists that we identify and respect limits–both for ourselves and for others.
As lifeguards in the business of helping people in trouble, we in the field of ABA must protect ourselves as well as those we serve. We must likewise watch out for one another. We do this through frequent, candid communication, with warnings and actions as necessary. We are all in this together. Pay attention to your culture and communicate expectations. Make sure your team is conscious of its time management, decisions, and work patterns and you will greatly increase the likelihood of consistent, good morale.