8 Tips to Improve Productivity at Work
In light of increasing competition, business pressure and stakeholder’s expectations, every organization is in dire need to supercharge its performance. Leadership teams at organizations are seeking different ways to sustainably improve cost structure and use cost advantages to deliver higher earnings & value to customers and stakeholders.
Satya Nadella’s New Mantra for Microsoft- Productivity
Looking at current trend, organizations have also started focusing on ways to improve productivity at work of their workforce (also read – Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s makes productivity as new mantra at Microsoft; CMOs emphasizing on productivity).
The point is very clear, business leaders want the following to go hand in hand.
- Cost reduction
- Productivity improvement
Cost reduction isn’t in the scope of this article, hence let’s look at how organization can improve productivity at work. Following eight tips will prove immensely helpful for project teams and general workplace environment. It is the leadership team who will have to ensure that things are falling in place. If leadership team is not going to buy-in, there is little improvement one can expect by following these tips.
Quick note before you start following these tips – you really need to know your team – the real team, their expertise/forte, likings, disliking, their limitations, their aspirations, etc.
Set SMART Goals, Delegate Ownership & Make Them Accountable
First and foremost thing to do in order to improve productivity at work – is set targets which psychologically induce project team members, your employees to work towards these goals. But as a best practices you need to set SMART goals
As a basic management principle, you would delegate responsibility to your team members/employees but leadership also need to check that it is not just delegation or responsibility without any authority to perform it. I would call it delegation of ownership to carry out activities, deliver value to customers. The motivation ‘owning’ something is pretty significant and can drive employees to go extra miles to deliver it.
However please communicate to your employees that ownership does not mean complete free hand. The ownership comes along with accountability. If employees are being held accountable for delivering value, then it bring element of responsibility along with ownership.
Save their time from unnecessary activities, meetings
Do you know – according to a research done by ULCA and University of Minnesota, as it points out over 50% of the time participants spent in meeting, is considered to be waste and nearly 25% of the meeting time is spent on discussing irrelevant issues? It is understood that the growth of an organization brings various distractions. As a seasoned leader, you would know there are plenty of initiatives, processes which go on in your organizations but those things are unlikely to lead any tangible or intangible benefit for organization. e.g. you would be asked to attend certain meeting for the sake of having someone senior, from certain department without actually ascertaining whether s/he is required or not.
Many time you tend to send someone from your team since you may not have time to go or do not intend to go. Don’t Do It, unless you are sure of value of attending the meeting. You really need to save time of your employees, team members from such spoilers and distractions. This way you can save more for your productive time at work.
Shield them from external pressures, Support them when genuinely it is needed the most
Many times team members, employees have to work with teams from other department or work directly with customers, press and vendors. Employees already have pressures to deliver their own things. If they are subjected to external pressure, it is quite likely that their productivity, performance would degrade.
As a senior manager and leader, you should shield your team, employees from external pressure. The realization that leadership team is shielding us, supporting us is far greater force for employees to remain committed to their job, be loyal good to organization. It is generally observed phenomena that people will join you when it’s a time to celebrate however if the situation turns upside down, only real friends and well-wishers stand by you. And people do remember such difficult-situation instances more than celebration times.
I am not saying that you should support every other employee/team members blindly; but see if they genuinely need help and if you are going help them out/support them, will it bring a positive change in that situation. If so, you should jump in and use your leadership position to support your employees.
Praise them loudly, it makes lot of positive difference
When it is a time to blame or criticize somebody else, people raise their voice, vent it out. On the contrary when same guys would not shout it loud to apprise others. Though this is a general phenomenon also observed in organizations even at senior level, it is certainly not a thing to be proud of. If your employees, project team members are performing well, go-out and speak about it. Be cheerful of their achievement, your achievement as a group. Everyone likes to hear good things about him/her. It adds to the motivation factor.
Why do you have to be conservative about praising your employees/teams? Not everyone becomes complacent of his/her achievement. These are indirect ways to improve productivity at work.
Provide useful and constructive feedback | Regularly
Of course, not every other time will be hunky dory, there will be rough times too. If your teams have failed to deliver and if things could have been done differently – let them know about it. Project team members, employees in marketing, sales, finance, operation, HR, Audit, compliance, administration, etc teams, essentially all employees in your organization can benefit greatly if there are given useful, constructive feedback on a regular basis.
Constructive feedback provided on a regular basis will help employees overcome their shortcoming, improve their performance. And this is exactly what leadership team is looking for.
Also one should bear in mind that, it is not just top-down approach that can result in best outcome when it comes to providing constructive feedback; your employees can also provide you excellent feedback, amazing insight. So hear them out, though can be kind of 360 Degree Feedback. There are two good outcome linked to it.
– You can receive great feedback, insight or opportunity to improve
– Employees are delighted to know that they are being heard. It can bring them sense of pride, they can relate to an organization for its good and bad times (i.e. loyalty)
Respect their work, their personal life and respect them as an INDIVIDUAL
At the same time do keep in mind that people have their personal life way different than work-life. So you need to respect their work, their personal life and respect them as an individual.
Help them in self-improvement | Nominate them for right trainings & workshop
Another important productivity booster results when employees embark on self-improvement process. It is really crucial that you as a leadership team encourage them for building & improving skills. Though we will talk about tangibles rewards in next segment, there are intangible rewards which can make employees be more productive. Training, workshops are examples of such intangible reward. Even encouraging employees to achieve certifications like professional project management certification (PMP®, PRINCE2®) or Product Management, Sales Management, Technical certification can bring positive effect, earned respect, social recognition, improved productivity, increased loyalty and much more.
Provide financial rewards, economic benefits, link those to employee’s performance
Yet there are more tangible ways of rewarding your employees to improve their productivity, performance. Recognizing employees with financial rewards for their commitment, performance in current/ongoing/past assignment induces them to keep up their performance.
Employees love financial rewards and economic benefits from their job. To recognize employees with financial rewards, it requires leadership team to decide and allocate budget. It really comes down to whether management would like to provide incentives or not, whether it wants to encourage people or not.
Again, like said earlier – do not think that everyone will become complacent if you start recognizing them with financial rewards.
Encourage them to use technological tools to boost productivity, save time, stay focused
Whether you like it or not, technology has transformed the way organizations used to work. Now global team isn’t a new thing anymore. I am not talking about social media or trendy stuff. It is really about technological tools that adds immensely toward productivity, connectivity, collaboration, accountability of employees.
If you are not investing in technology to improve productivity, communication, collaboration, then you are really messing it up, in a big way. Depending on your business you can use project management software, Customer Relationship Management Tool, HRMS systems, Supply Chain Management Solution, networking and collaboration system, etc.
Conclusion – Better Engagement Will Improve Productivity at Work
To help employees to improve productivity at work, we really need to engage with them at various levels through various channels. In the end better engagement results in better commitment, higher loyalty.
All you need to have is well thought, consistent employee engagement approach that will strike a right balance between result-driven, goal oriented-ness and understanding, nurturing employees’ aspirations, needs.
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