I attended a conference last week where I got to meet a lot of startup owners as well as the management personnel of leading businesses.
I thought of initiating a small informal survey just to see what entrepreneurs have on their mind when they think about their business.
While having a chat with some business leaders, I tried to put across the question, “As an entrepreneur, what are three vital things that you should focus on?”
I came across various interesting answers from getting new clients, retaining old ones, maintaining profitability, innovating, strategizing to retaining high talent.
Somewhere in all this, we forget one important thing that really drives the organization – productivity of our employees.
Below are 10 ways you can help boost the productivity of your organization as a leader-
1. Set clear priorities
“Why is the project scope not finalized yet, Sarah?”
“Sir, I thought working on the presentation was more urgent so I completed that yesterday. I have scheduled a call with the client today to clarify the details and then start working on the project scope.”
If this scenario happens a lot in your organization, it’s time you set clear priorities for your team.
When there are unclear priorities, work not only gets mismanaged, it hampers the productivity of the individual. The person has to push back the task they were working on and create a new schedule for the entire day.
Sometimes, this can even hamper the work of the entire team. For example, when the task of project scope got delayed, the next task of project budgeting also got delayed. This could form a chain reaction where everyone’s productivity goes down and the entire project gets delayed.
2. Set equitable workloads
A team had two designers working on a project. Designer A had just joined the company while Designer B had a lot of experience in the field.
In the meantime, the organization got the opportunity to work on two high-value projects.
After a month, the business lead got to know that Designer B’s work was going downhill. He called Designer B in his office to understand the reason behind the same.
After talking for a while, the lead realized that while Designer A was working on just one project, Designer B was juggling three projects simultaneously. He couldn’t keep up with the increased workload and the quality of his designs took a big hit.
To make sure the productivity of the designer and the team as a whole didn’t drop down, the team lead was faced with two choices- (i) recruit a new designer or opt for a freelancer, (ii) set equitable workloads for both the designers and let Designer B supervise the work of Designer A.
3. Encourage autonomy
When managers hover and keep directing people to work their way, employees get nervous and perform poorly. This makes managers hover even more.
And so starts the unproductive loop that never seems to end.
You have to trust your employees and let them manage their own time and resources. This lets them become independent and solve their problems on their own.
Science also says that worker autonomy can lead to greater productivity and satisfaction.
So, give your employees the freedom and encourage them to come up with their own ideas and ways of working.
4. Become solution-centric
An employee made an error while giving the presentation. As he had two managers, he was first called by the junior manager.
“Do you even realize what you did? I’ll not be appointing you for giving any more presentations.”
The employee got very disheartened after hearing this. He sulkily went to the senior manager’s office. The senior manager told him to sit, gave him a glass of water and said, “Mark, I loved the second slide of your presentation, especially the metrics you came up with. Talking about the mistake you made, tell me how would you correct this mistake?”
When the senior manager took the solution-centric approach instead of bickering about the problem, he pushed the employee not only to come up with a solution but realize that his mistake was indeed grave.
When you build trust, instead of hiding mistakes and delaying things, the employee would come up to you and confess what happened. This ensures that productivity is not lost working on things that could have been resolved sooner.
5. Encourage them to take breaks
The Draugiem Group which is a collection of companies based in Latvia tracked their employee’s time and productivity. To their surprise, they found out that the most productive employees were the ones who took the most breaks. On an average, the high performers took a 17 minute break for every 52 minutes that they worked.
That’s because when you work on a task for too long, your performance gets hindered. Researchers call this effect as goal habituation.
Encouraging your employees to take breaks not only helps in overall productivity and job performance, but helps improve health and reduces stress.
6. Set challenging goals
Let’s suppose everyday for a week, you give a child the same mathematics problem to solve. He would do it for a day or two. After that, you give him a chocolate as an incentive. He’d keep doing the same problem for a week.
But after that, he’d lose interest and eventually quit solving the problem.
It’s the same scenario when it comes to your workforce. You have to keep giving them opportunities to learn new things, to try and fail, to come up with better ideas. This will keep them motivated and productive.
7. Involve your team in the decision making process
When your team is involved in the decision making process, they will feel more empowered and responsible. This will motivate them to work diligently and finish their work as per the decided deadlines.
For example, you want to finalize the project milestones for your new software project. Instead of doing it all alone, prepare a rough draft and then have a discussion with your team. As they are the ones who will be doing the groundwork, they’d be able to give you a clear picture and in the process, you might discover some great ideas for the project.
8. Conduct less meetings
Did you know that every year, more than $37 billion is spent on unproductive meetings?
If you think about it, the reason is right in front of our eyes.
Every time that an employee turns up in a meeting, the individual is losing the time which could have been spent on solo work. This eats away into the efficiency, creativity and the productivity of an individual.
The takeaway from this is not to completely abolish meetings in your organization. Meetings are necessary for brainstorming, decision making, planning and the like. But you need to do away with the meetings conducted for the sole purpose of sharing information or providing status updates.
Everytime you need to conduct a meeting, ask yourself, “Is a meeting really necessary? Is there no other way to serve the purpose of this meeting?”
9. Use an all-in-one tool
While we blame social media applications to be detrimental to productivity, using too many work tools is a big source of distraction too.
There are a plethora of applications on the internet today that make work easy but the key is to find that one tool that serves all your work needs. It is very time consuming to use different applications to check messages, emails, project scheduling, accessing files, scheduling meetings. Instead, you could opt for a Wrike alternative, SmartTask.
It also increases the decision fatigue of an individual which has a detrimental effect on productivity.
So, do away with too many communication tools, search for an all-in-one tool and you’ll realize that there are a lot less distractions in your everyday life.
10. Interact with your team
When the team members know each other and have a feeling of trust and camaraderie between them, there will be less animosity, grudges and miscommunication. As a result, the team’s productivity and efficiency will rise.
In fact, when a major bank scheduled call-center employee’s breaks together so that they could socialize, the worker’s productivity jumped by 25%.
The various ways you could do this is have an informal chat session for an hour every weekend, have teams conduct fun weekend activities, organize team-building exercises or conduct events.
“Shyamal is the Founder of SmartTask, an online work management tool that’s helping teams be more productive by having clarity on who’s doing what by when. Has a penchant for researching and sharing strategies that could benefit a team’s productivity”.