All good managers are looking to increase the effectiveness and productivity of their teams. This becomes particularly important when we perceive that we don’t have enough people to do the amount of work as it stands at the moment. If we cannot afford to recruit more people then something has to change.
In some ways this is a good thing as it forces us to re-evaluate the situation and take action that maybe we have put off before in terms of making changes.
Here are 7 top tips to help you increase productivity from the people you do have.
1. Recognise What You Have Already
It can be very easy for anybody to take for granted what we already have. In our enthusiasm to get people to work harder we sometimes forget that people work in a particular way because it gets a better result. By changing this you may find that you are worse off. Always ask individuals for feedback on things you want to change so that you understand the consequences of those changes. Otherwise it may come back and bite you later! To quote a well known cliché, ‘Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!’
2. Provide Clear Direction In Terms Of Priorities
For people to be more effective they need to have guidance on what choices to make when prioritising their work. Share with them your thought processes on why you have prioritised one piece of work over another. This way you enable them to make more such decisions on their own without having to come to you every time. If you are somebody whose very nature means that you are constantly changing your direction, you may want to evaluate whether this is the best way for the team to operate. It may be that you are the cause of the team not achieving what it could achieve. Can you use people with good organisational skills in the team to help you and the team keep on track?
3. Give Regular Feedback – Positive & Constructive
Unless you tell people whether they are doing it right or not they will not learn or develop their skills. Make sure that you strike a fair balance between positive and constructive feedback. Give too much negative feedback reduces confidence; causes more conflict and can lower effectiveness. Give too little corrective feedback and the person will not realise that they need to learn and improve. Always be specific in praise and criticism so that they no exactly what to do more or less of. Be objective and stick to the facts, leaving out opinion from you feedback. Using facts makes it hard for people to deny what has happened. Opinions only criticise the person rather the behaviour which is what you really want to see change for the better.
4. Carry Out The Appropriate Level Of Checking
Micromanaging someone’s work is counterproductive for the individual unless they are on a final warning and even then it may not work. Agree between you at the beginning how ‘normal’ checks should be made to protect you, them and more importantly the business. This way there should be no surprises or resentment when you do carry out your checks as it is just part of the job. Remember to include checks for even your best employees. They can still makes mistakes and may even get complacent.
5. Use Visual Displays Of Progress Or Non-Progress In Team Goals
Many managers, especially sales managers use this technique effectively. Whilst individual scores or results can be effective, be sure that it will drive the right behaviours and not undermine someone’s self-esteem when they are struggling to perform. By sharing progress towards the team goal in public and individual achievement in private will usually produce better results. It also encourages joint responsibility.
6. Hold Team ‘Pep’ Talks
This does not necessarily mean a full team meeting, but a means by which you can check levels of motivation and lead your team. Often shorter the better, it helps to engender a sense of belonging and enables regular contact with the whole team. Typically these pep talks work at the beginning of the day or week. Holding one at the end of the week on a Friday gives you the opportunity to thank everybody for their hard work and recognise their efforts. It helps to send them off for the weekend on a positive note ready for coming in positive the following Monday.
7. Make Life Easier
This means working more efficiently than having to work harder or longer. Systems often evolve in a way that is more reactive than planned. Using templates and sharing best practice from inside or outside the group helps to create a culture of learning and constant improvement. Be ready to ask, ‘Why are we doing this?’ but in a supportive rather than confrontational way. Also be prepared for people to ask you the same thing and in the same way! Showing that you are prepared to be challenged will show that you are an open leader who is prepared to listen. This will generate more respect, motivation and inspiration for your team to be better.
These are few ways to improve productivity. Take credit for those you are already applying and gradually give the others a go and see how productivity goes up. Good luck!
Senior Management Trainer & Consultant at MTD Training