Every job has its own time horizon. The higher up the organizational ladder we go, the farther we can see and the longer the time horizon becomes. Tim Hockey, CEO of TD Ameritrade, explains the management theory of time horizons and roles. We can borrow this logic to think of our own jobs and goals.
Hockey uses the example of a bank. Starting with the teller, he says they have a time horizon of a day. Each deposit or withdrawal is relatively quick, and at the end of the shift, the drawer has to balance. The next day the process starts all over again. A job well done is measured by happy customers and daily balanced drawers.
The manager of a group of tellers has a longer time horizon to consider. How happy are the customers and how balanced were the drawers at the end of a month or quarter? The manager has to make the staffing and people decisions to drive the results over their longer timetable. This requires vision to keep the operation running month to month and quarter to quarter.
The CEO of a bank has the longest time horizon. Days and quarters become years and decades. The CEO can’t just think of customers, tellers, and managers today, but has to think of all of them, years out in the future. Without a long-term picture of where the bank is going, the CEO can’t start to break down the smaller time horizons necessary to drive progress all the way down the structure. With a strong sense of vision, the CEO can bring purpose to the tasks of the managers and even tellers. Understanding time horizons become the keys to a company’s survival.
The superpower we can all strive to develop is to look for the time frames of roles, both under and above us. The corresponding times and the amount of visibility required to meet objectives will help us give context to those below us and ask for clearer context of those above us whenever necessary.
Everyone’s experience can be improved when we’re aware of the dots we’re actually connecting.