Part time doesn’t have to mean part efficiency. Project Manager’s guide to cultivate success managing part-time employees.
If you’ve ever dealt with managing part-time employees, you probably know that assuring the quality of the deliverables and keeping the deadlines – both project and daily ones – can be harder than with the 9-5 style.
It need not be so.
Many employers and managers if posed with the choice, prefer full-timers over part-timers as they think less of the latter. But contrary to that belief, hiring a part-time worker doesn’t signify getting part-results, it may become a catchy part-song.
At the end of the day, working on projects is mostly about fitting in the situation, so let’s find the best ways to do just that.
From following particular project management guidelines, introducing company policies to using personal traits – this article will show you how to cultivate success in your team.
Is managing part-time employees really your job?
Of course, it is you, the Project Manager, who is directly responsible for the part-timers’ performance.
There is, however, a lot to be done on the company level to make sure that people with limited availability work effectively. These guidelines will be, usually, executed by you, but should be known and followed across all teams at your company.
We all know how important company culture is for the motivation and goal reaching.
In part-timer’s case, being an aware part of the company is even more essential as they spend less time in the office, therefore they might identify with the organization and its goal far less than full-time workers.
Keep part-timers up to date
So if you want them bitten by the passion bug and furthered by the sense of responsibility, the first step is keeping them up to date.
Think of a day when you didn’t spend as much time in your workplace as your colleagues did – you’d probably noticed missing out on some meetings, task, and even the latest gossip. Gaps in information flow can lead to lesser involvement or even alienation.
You need to make sure that the part time employees are on the same page as the rest of team – both with the project and the company life. Thus, don’t forget to include them when a meeting or an integration event of any sort comes up. Unless, of course, they cannot be there because of other commitments, then give them meticulous memos about any agreements you reached and next steps to follow. Repeating information might seem a waste of time or doubling of your workload, yet not doing it may lead to dissatisfaction of all the people involved, communication mayhem, and dealing with such chaos consumes much more time than preventing it.
Find a suitable communication channel
The key decision here is finding a suitable communication channel which should provide ongoing access to information flow – anything from Google Drive based documentation, through Skype, to a humble e-mail – your team must posses the most up-to-date knowledge. If you already have the channel, double-check if your statements are clear, specific and tailored to the audience.
Match communication with the people – not only through the form of expression but also with the content included (as in: the scope of information relevant to a part-timer). This includes strategic and operational information, for example, if you have different vacation policies for part timers or a team member of theirs is changing shifts, don’t forget to let them know.
Provide the with their workplace
Althought they aren’t at the office every day, they should be considered an equal part of the company’s structures and you need to keep tabs on them not only having the same rules, but also the same benefits and conditions as full-time workers. First of all provide them with their own, permanent place of work – they have to struggle with catching up – don’t put more on them by switching computers and workspaces every day. It will definetely delay a coherent onboarding process for each working day.
One of the incentives at work is the thirst for self-developement. Provided that your company wants to financially support professional growth of their employees, ascertain the involvement of all the members in your team. Try to provide help from more experienced colleagues and proper mentoring to scaffold their personal and professional growth.
Find a tool to track their availability
Last, but definietely not least – part timers have simply less time for us than full timers, so don’t force them to fight with red tape when filling in their availability.
Make it a priority to find a suitable tool to quickly and easily let them declare their availability in the office. If reports and flexible data manipulation is not a must, start with Google Calendar.
When in need of a more effective solution, try teamdeck – resource management tool that makes it easy to book employees and monitor their workload.
Day-to-day reality of a project manager
Now, let’s discuss how to handle remote-workers in you day-to-day reality as a PM.
Keep documentation up to date
Being a Project Manager you probably know already how important are clear and proper descriptions of tasks and core project assumptions.
But when you’re managing part-time employees it is crucial to get even more precise as well as to keep documentation and task description up to date. Try to make use of tools like Google Drive, which enables employees to quickly and easily access arrangements and data – time is money, especially for the part-timers bunch.
Schedule regular meetings
It is known that if you want to keep things clear, you need to remember about regular meetings.
When you gather a great team, yet each member works slightly different hours, setting up daily meetings at a constant, fixed timeslot can be a hard problem to tackle. In such case, arrange the scheme of your daily meetings onto the sessions with your part-time team members during any given project. The flexibility of the team may prove to be the key to success. Seeking out suitable meetings’ time shall be complicated but not impossible. Besides, you’re a natural born problem solver, aren’t you?
Unless everybody’s working hours overlap neatly, you’ll need to set up 2 separate meetings with the same, detailed agenda at hand. Who knows, maybe you will not only make sure that all the members of your team are on the same page, but also see potential issues in a different light. Two meetings are always better than no meeting at all.
Delegate assignments thoughtfully
In a team that includes both full-time and part-time employees, productivity levels can become a headache. This can encompass challenges such as task diversification and expected results which are both depending on declared availability of each person.
Don’t forget, each task, not to mention a project, has its entry level, meaning time and knowledge required for the onboarding process. The longer the break from a task or the more people work on it, the higher entry level it obtains. Therefore, you cannot expect the same results from a part-timer and a full-time employee.
It’s highly advisable to, instead, delegate precise and realistics responsibilities to each and every team member.
Foster their awareness of what’s next when it comes to the assigned tasks and whole projects.
If you plan to move one human asset to another task or project – let them know. It’s essential as you are the one mapping the project out, but they are the one to estimate the time required to do the task – give them a chance to plan accordingly.
Match your vision with part-timers’ availability
While we’re on the subject of planning, sooner or later you will have to modify your initial vision as most part-timers have other commitments (think of University students when the exam session dawns upon them).
Of course, you can just plug into your bottomless storage of patience and just be as flexible as you can, but this is a short-term solution – try to also account for the flow of those periodic changes.
For instance, you can set policies and deadlines for declaring one’s availability.
Once your team gets used to filling in the calendar at least a week ahead, managing part-time employees will get easier, too. Think of assigning the task during sprints and stand-ups!
Moreover, once a clear set of rules is at place, we automatically try to adhere to them, lessening the risk of failure.
Be flexible (to some extent)
Similarly, when working with project team – be as flexible as you can, but keep the rules clear when it comes to the rhythm of daily work: maximum timeshifts, lunchbreak hours etc. This way, part timers will be able to tell when it is the best time to proceed with their work, but also when to contact you or consult a colleague if they get stuck. Perhaps you don’t need to be reminded about it, but remember not to be an outcast, especially when it comes to the limit of your working hours and overtime – captain always leaves the ship as the last one.
Feels. They’re good for you.
When it comes to part-time workers, in most cases they didn’t choose the amount of time they are spending at work – they must adapt to external factors defining their professional situation, so be caring and understanding.
Stay on top of the information curve about your team members, so you can differentiate between really important availability issues and those you can argue with, especially when there are deadlines approaching. Being able to foresee the risk of any complications and strategically planning the deliverables is the most important thing in your job.
Try to also find out if the part-timers can stay in touch after work – not for snowing them under, of course, just to be able to clarify any issues, questions or concerns when they’re not in the office.
All in all, learn as much as you can about your Human Resources.
Hang out with your team
Remember that you are a team member as well, effectiveness should not be your only motive behind getting to know your colleagues. Subconsciously, we feel whether somebody pays attention to us because they need something or because they care – make caring your top priority.
Book a table for a lunch outside of the office or go to a pub together in the evening.
A nice chat over a beer or good food will definitely bond you better than a formal meeting in the office. And you will hear discussions more open than during office small talks. After such get togethers you will be able to pick better motivational techniques or new team members, as you will not only know their professional strengths, but their individual traits and interests as well.
Give a proper feedback
As a good manager you are aware that feedback is critical, and when it comes to new projects, your team is probably your first feedback group as well – hence ask for feedback and listen carefully! – especially when you are not a specialist in a given field.
But not only then, also when you are not directly executing a task – people who do may notice things you haven’t thought of! On the other hand, if any of your team members needs support and you are not feeling competent enough to help them – offer a tailored mentor or assist in research instead of saying “I don’t know, google it”.
Finding a solution is easier when you have a mutual understanding and fondness with your team members – each of them will know they could count on you and without doubt, will try to reciprocate that.
Rules of thumb:
As you can see hiring a part-time worker doesn’t signify getting only a part of the job done. Here are 5 key rules making managing part-time employees well:
- make them feel like a real part of your company,
- keep them up to date,
- know and understand their situation,
- treat them equally,
- be flexible but remember about the rules.
Try to follow these rules and you will see how great and valuable part-timers can prove to be.
And if you are focused on getting best full time staff remember that engaged, highly motivated and well treat part-timer can became one of them.