With a 30-page resume enumerating 57 years of teaching at four universities, over 300 publications and presentations and more than a dozen consulting roles to the likes of Shell Oil and the American Cancer Society, one might expect Dr. David Van Fleet would be spending his retirement fishing or pursuing a sedentary pastime.
The Scottsdale resident has just written his 12th book – and it may upend a lot of the thinking by managers and employees alike who pay more attention to “putting in their hours” instead of what they do with that time.
“Management and workers alike must focus on what’s accomplished on the job rather than the clock to be flexible and ready to adapt to changing conditions,” said Fleet, whose new book, “Quality Time: Productivity Through Time Management” is available at infoagepub.com.
Offering concepts to help employers and workers cope with the COVID-19 pandemic in the workplace, the book has already drawn plaudits by some corporate and other executives.
Among them is HonorHealth Scottsdale CEO Todd LaPorte, who praised Van Fleet’s “broadly comprehensive and immediately applicable look at the ways we can make team’s use of time better” and his “novel use of the V-REEL Framework to focus the efforts to improve team time.”
Basically, a V-Reel Framework provides a practical guide to strategically thinking through what a manager or employee knows and needs to know about their resources and capabilities in assessing their potential for creating value in the marketplace.
And when it comes to considering time in that equation, Van Fleet’s new book says, the hours on the job don’t matter “but rather how that time is used to achieve individual and organizational productivity goals.”
Retirement has helped Van Fleet clarify his thinking on this subject.
While he has led time-management workshops and seminars for years, he explained, “I changed my thinking as a result of two recent books I read. Being retired gave me time to work on it.”
Long before the pandemic, Van Fleet has used his time productively.
He taught for 30 years at Arizona State University – 20 at its West Campus and 10 at its Polytechnic Campus in Mesa – and before that was on the Texas A&M faculty for 16 years, three years at the University of Akron in Ohio and eight years teaching at the University of Tennessee while finishing his doctorate.
He has won dozens of awards and honoraria, led or participated in numerous research projects and estimated he has taught more than 14,000 students along the way.
Van Fleet said his new book is aimed at having bosses rethink their approach to productivity among their workforce so they can “inspire employees and ensure fairness, consistency and a future-oriented workplace culture.”
Management and workers alike must consider adopting some new ways as “the new norm” in the post COVID-19 era, he said.
“No doubt the world of work will never go back to exactly what it had been,” he said. “Organizations will need to be flexible and ready to adapt to changing conditions.”
"Hence the importance on looking at how time is used to achieve individual and organizational productivity goals.”
“Managers who get upset over employees coming to work late or socializing on the job often care more about them ‘putting in time’ than putting their time to good use,” said Van Fleet, who has devoted countless hours since 1975 to studying and writing about time management and organizational behavior.
“Managers who focus on time usually concentrate on the wrong things,” he said. “They’re saying that being on the job is important when they should be saying that what’s accomplished on the job is what is really important.”
“Time-conscious bosses often focus more on clock than job being done,” he added, suggesting that some people with flexible working hours may actually do more than others who are on rigid clocks.
“I can understand why an assembly line production manager would get upset if someone came late, and if a store is to open at 10 a.m. then someone has to be there, but these are cases involving interdependency. That’s another issue,” he said.
“There are a tremendous number of jobs where performance, not time, should be emphasized,” he continued. “People should be paid for what they do, not for how much time they take doing it.”