Time Doctor Executive Interview
Liam Martin, co-founder, Time Doctor
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In a recent conversation, Sheri Greenhaus, Managing Partner
at CrmXchange, had the opportunity to engage in a thought-provoking dialogue
with Liam Martin. Liam is not only a distinguished speaker and author but also
an innovator who co-founded Time Doctor and co-organizes the impactful Running
Remote conference. This interview delves into various aspects of remote work,
employee retention, and the future of work in a rapidly evolving landscape.
Introduction to Time Doctor
Sheri Greenhaus: Please share some insights about
Liam Martin: Time Doctor serves as a comprehensive tool that
stands apart from traditional call analytics. While many tools focus on
assessing the efficiency of calls themselves, we go beyond that. We delve into
what happens around those calls, how your time is spent before, during, and
after each call. It's not just about the call; it's about the bigger picture.
We analyze various aspects, such as the time spent on your
CRM, dialer, email, or Zoom calls with clients or colleagues. Our goal is to
provide actionable insights by connecting these activities to tangible
outcomes. By leveraging LLM and artificial intelligence, we empower
organizations to understand why some employees excel while others struggle, allowing
for targeted coaching and improvements.
Sheri Greenhaus: Could you elaborate on the specific
problems your solution addresses?
Liam Martin: Certainly. Time Doctor functions primarily as a
time analytics company, or as it might be more aptly described in your
industry, a desktop analytics tool. We focus on activities that transpire
outside of calls, including websites visited and applications used, all in
their respective contexts. From there, we correlate this information with key
performance indicators like the number of dials, CRM closures, or ticket
completions. This correlation, aided by AI, unveils the reasons behind the
success of top-performing employees and the struggles of those who fall short.
It's about equipping managers with valuable data to coach and guide their teams
Sheri Greenhaus: You mentioned that your solution aids in
coaching. Could you clarify how this works?
Liam Martin: Time Doctor doesn't provide coaching directly.
Instead, it offers the necessary data and insights to empower managers to coach
their teams effectively. One of our recent successful features is predictive
analytics, which boasts an impressive 86% accuracy rate in forecasting an
employee's intention to leave their job six months in advance. Armed with this
information, managers can intervene when an employee shows signs of
disengagement and consider factors like their relationship with their manager,
colleagues, or workload. By identifying these issues early, organizations can
retain valuable talent.
Sheri Greenhaus: What are some indicators that someone might
be considering leaving their job?
Liam Martin: We employ Bayesian algorithms and a staggering
32,500 variables to predict this behavior. Interestingly, seemingly innocuous
factors like the length of an employee's lunch break don't directly correlate
with their intention to quit. Instead, it's a combination of numerous variables
working in concert. Our data shows that most employees consider quitting due to
excessive workload, conflicts with their manager, or discord with colleagues.
These are issues that, if identified early—around the five-month mark—can be
addressed to prevent attrition. The key here is to step in before they've
already secured another job and are on the way out.
Sheri Greenhaus: Even with AI, how does your system identify
problems with a manager?
Liam Martin: While we can't definitively pinpoint issues
with a manager, our vast database, which includes millions of users and tens of
thousands of cases of attrition, allows us to identify patterns. We inform our
clients when we predict an employee's intention to leave. They then initiate a
conversation and, more often than not, discover problems related to workload,
management, or colleague dynamics. It's not about offering more money, as
compensation rarely ranks among the top issues. The true challenge lies in
addressing these human dynamics early, and this approach has the potential to
significantly impact retention rates, especially in industries like BPO, where
annual turnover is alarmingly high at 67%. Even a 10% improvement in retention
can yield substantial benefits.
Insights into Employee Retention and Remote Work Trends
Sheri Greenhaus: Beyond monetary incentives, what factors
influence employee retention?
Liam Martin: The primary factors that affect employee
retention, surprisingly, revolve around interpersonal dynamics. Often,
employees leave due to disagreements with coworkers or their managers. One key
to transforming retention rates is recognizing that some managers may push
their teams too hard, resulting in better short-term results but lower
retention rates. Exceptional employees tend to question why they should
tolerate such pressure and may choose to leave.
Addressing this issue requires tracking two vital variables:
managerial pressure and team satisfaction. It's crucial to identify if a
manager is pushing their team too hard and, if so, consider moving them or
providing coaching to transform them into effective leaders. Interestingly,
many managers might not appreciate our system revealing that they are part of
Sheri Greenhaus: It seems that addressing managerial issues
can lead to significant changes. Can managers change their behaviors?
Liam Martin: Absolutely, our solution not only assists in
coaching employees but also serves as a powerful coaching tool for managers. By
comparing the effectiveness of different departments, we enable organizations
to make data-driven decisions. We can analyze how each team's workweek looks,
especially important for remote and hybrid call centers. An interesting
observation is that teams spending less time on video calls tend to be happier.
In fact, post-COVID, the average BPO employee spent 56% of their workweek on
video calls. This contributes to what's known as "Zoom fatigue" and
is directly linked to employee attrition. We suggest giving employees more
autonomy and less micromanagement to improve satisfaction.
Sheri Greenhaus: Are there any cultural differences globally
that affect why people stay or leave their jobs?
Liam Martin: Indeed, there are some cultural nuances that
come into play. For instance, employees in the APAC region tend to quit without
expressing their frustrations directly to their managers. This can be seen as a
challenge because their grievances often go unnoticed. In such cases, our tool
becomes even more critical as it can uncover these issues early and prompt
managers to take action.
In addition to Time Doctor, I'm deeply involved in the
remote work space, and we organize a conference called Running Remote. Our
mission is to facilitate the global shift towards remote and distributed work.
I've also authored a Wall Street Journal bestseller on this subject titled
‘Running Remote: Master the Lessons from the World’s Most Successful
Remote-Work Pioneers’. When we examine the return-to-office phenomenon, several
data sets come to mind, primarily from researchers like Raj Chetty from Harvard
and Nick Bloom from Stanford. Among the seven data sets, five show little
change in the past three quarters.
In fact, two of them indicate that remote work is on the
rise. Nick Bloom has coined this trend as the "Nike Swoosh" of
distribution. The shift towards remote work was remarkable; by March 2020, 45%
of the U.S. workforce was remote, up from 20% in February 2020. This
transformation, which took place within a month, marked one of the most
significant changes in the workplace since the industrial revolution. Since
then, we've seen a drop to approximately 38% when considering hybrid work as
Nevertheless, the data indicates that remote and distributed
work is here to stay. Our mission is to help organizations manage this shift
effectively because it's not merely about recreating the office at home.
Managing remote teams requires a different approach, and many managers lack the
necessary training for this new dynamic.
Insights into Remote
Work and the Future
Sheri Greenhaus: It seems like there was no playbook for the
sudden transition to remote work.
Liam Martin: Indeed, when the world shifted to remote work
overnight due to COVID-19, there was no manual to guide us. Within the first
month, six publishers approached me to write a book on remote work. However,
Harper's was the only one that gave us the time we needed. It took us three
years to craft the book, during which we conducted extensive research. The
book's essence lies in promoting a methodology for managing remote workers,
which we term "asynchronous management." It offers a structured
approach distinct from traditional in-office management philosophies.
This book serves as a guide and a reference for those deeply
involved in the remote work movement. Asynchronous management represents the
manual that the remote work transition required, and it's a passion of mine to
share this knowledge widely. Recent surveys from Harvard Business Review
indicate that 76% of employees forced to return to the office do not wish to do
so. This could lead to significant tensions in the workforce, especially as the
economy stabilizes. Over the next two years, I anticipate a major shift where
employees will demand the option to work remotely, and this is something I'm
highly passionate about advocating for. I engage in discussions on this topic
regularly, and I emphasize the importance of data-driven decision-making.
As a former sociologist, I approach this topic with an open
mind. If data were to prove that remote work is less efficient or detrimental
to workers, I would adapt my perspective. However, I have yet to come across
any compelling data that supports such claims. Interestingly, some studies
suggesting that remote workers that are less productive are funded by companies
heavily invested in commercial real estate, raising questions about their
motivation. The reality is that remote work has become an irreversible trend.
People have experienced its benefits firsthand, making it challenging to roll
back. Even in the Philippines' call center industry, where "hoppers"
frequently switch jobs, there's a growing desire for local offices to allow for
short commutes, demonstrating the need for flexibility and stress reduction.
Sheri Greenhaus: Is there anything specific our audience
should be aware of regarding Time Doctor?
Liam Martin: Time Doctor offers integration with 86
different project management, analytics, customer service, ticketing, payment,
and payroll processing tools. This extensive integration allows organizations
to consolidate data from various sources within Time Doctor, facilitating a
clear analysis of individual and team performance. Ultimately, our core mission
revolves around providing insights into who is excelling in their role and who
may need improvement. It's all about data-driven decision-making and optimizing
productivity and efficiency in the remote and hybrid work landscape.