Time Structuring and the Impact of Workplace Hierarchy I

When we use time structuring, we set up time for different tasks. The priority of the task determines how much time it gets and whether or not we are willing to tolerate interruptions. Our place in a workplace hierarchy can dictate our time structuring and how we handle requests from managers, peers, contracted staff and employees.

Requests from Superiors

Requests from managers and supervisors tend to be given a priority because they come from above us in the hierarchy. We are more likely to tolerate interruptions when requests come from superiors due to the fear of refusing them.  A supervisor’s request to do something is often interpreted as a direct order that cannot be countermanded.   Constant requests from superiors can interfere with time structuring, since the requests may disrupt the planned flow of the work day. Requests from superiors may be subtly redirected to peers if someone needs the time to complete other work. However, the inability to speak openly and honestly about the time available to complete the request or the fear to contradict a superior can destroy an otherwise planned work schedule. When there is trust and open communication, employees can reply to requests from superiors with the fact that they are already committed to another project or already working on something the manager previously requested. Only in a open workplace can the employee reply, “I’m booked now, but I can look at it later if it can wait.”

Requests from Peers

Requests from peers are those that come from others at the same or a similar level in the hierarchy. Requests from peers include those from coworkers, requests from individuals at a similar level in another department or hired consultants with a similar hierarchy level.

(To be continued)