Many successful business people are masters at being productive. They are motivated, efficient, managing their time well, and are experts at keeping their customers happy. They know that increasing productivity doesn’t necessarily mean working harder or longer. It’s about working smarter, being motivated, engaging with defined goals, and being happy in your working environment.
“Work smarter, not harder”
Successful businesses understand that team productivity is dependent on the productivity level of each individual. To boost team productivity, they must increase individual productivity amongst team members. Employing the right people is always a good start to boosting productivity, but ultimately, it is an ongoing process in any business.
Even if you hire the best in the field, there are always ways to inspire and motivate better performance and increase productivity. Keep in mind that each employee is like an essential cog in the machinery. If one fails, it can create disruption in the process chain.
Let’s look at ten proven methods used by successful businesses to boost team productivity.
1. Be the example
“Employees will do as you do, not as you say”
There is no point in telling your employees what to do if you are not doing it yourself. You need to lead by example says Mohamed Baiross, Managing Partner at I.R.B Law LLP.
Don’t overpromise or overcommit. Prioritise, and use appropriate management tools, but don’t overdo it. Don’t be afraid to show your strengths and weaknesses; your staff will trust you and be comfortable to show their strengths and weaknesses. By managing your own time effectively and setting boundaries, you are freeing yourself up to pay attention to the most important matters and influencing team productivity.
2. Know your team
“Don’t expect a fish to fly, or a bird to swim”
Knowing your team’s strengths and weaknesses is a tremendous asset for any business and could improve productivity. Knowing each member’s skill set makes it possible to put those skills to good and proper use. Let your creative employees come up with ‘out the box’ ideas.
Harness the skills of each individual. By knowing your team, you can delegate to the right person and provide support and training where needed. Putting individual skills together, each with its own role within the team, allows team members to shine within the team and learn from others. Ultimately, you will strengthen the team whilst improving productivity.
3. Effective time management
“If you can’t manage time, you can’t manage”
That is so true in today’s fast-paced corporate world. It is all about time and timing. Effective time-management relates to both helping your staff to work efficiently and providing the tools to manage or maximise their time.
If your employee can email a document to you, don’t expect them to wait at a slow printer for hard copies. If you need printed material, provide a fast printer. Do not overcommit your team to too many projects. Keep track of the time required and time available for each project. Many of the methods to boost productivity mentioned below, actually relate to time-management. If for example, you set clear goals, communicate effectively and streamline meetings, you are freeing up time to manage the important stuff.
4. Clear goals, expectations, and boundaries
“Clear goals and expectations shorten the path to productivity”
Setting clear goals, communicating clear expectations, and setting clear boundaries contribute significantly to productivity.
Before setting goals, take a step back and evaluate your team’s capacity to meet specific goals. Engage team members in setting their goals. Once your objectives are determined, you can define clear goals. Communicate clearly so that no time is wasted in figuring out what needs to be done, or who needs to do what. Be clear about what you expect from each team member. Communicate priorities clearly. When each member’s role and goal is clearly defined, the team will work together towards the common goal.
5. Communicate – both ways
“If it works in marriage, it works in business”
Two-way effective communication about expectations and responsibilities goes a long way in boosting productivity. Creating a culture of open and honest communication will put employees at ease to discuss concerns and any challenges they face. Ask how they are doing, is the target achievable, if not, why not? Encourage honest answers and offer assistance. Discuss time-management issues. Give feedback and invite feedback. When you speak, be open and clear. When you are listening to feedback, listen to understand, not necessarily to reply. Often, listening is more important than speaking. Try and figure out what your employees are not saying.
6. Don’t micro-manage your people
“Don’t be a helicopter parent”
You’ve employed good people, you know their strengths and weaknesses, you’ve set clear goals and expectations, now back off. Let your employees do their job says FrameIT Founder, Ben Rush. They need to know they can approach you if they need assistance. Trust them to get on with the job; it will empower them and give them the confidence to perform to the best of their ability. It is not always easy to stay out of the way, but the more you micro-manage and hover, the more unproductive your employees will be.
If you don’t feel confident that they are the right people, or you’re not sure if they understand what needs to be done, you need to go back to your drawing board and ask, why? How can you manage the process better? How can you manage from a distance, or put systems in place to track progress and achievements without looking over your employees’ shoulders the whole time?
7. Give employees ownership and accountability
“Ownership breeds accountability”
Having said that you shouldn’t micro-manage your people, it is equally important to hold employees accountable for the work they are supposed to do. An effective way to make employees accountable is to give them ownership of the job – their job, their responsibility. “I don’t mind how you get there but show me the result” says Jeremy Cheong of JRQ Legal.
Provide your employees with the right tools, arrange training and equip them with the necessary skills, then let them own their job. Allow them to be autonomous. Allow your team members to make their decisions relating to their specific task, to manage their time, to prioritise tasks, and to delegate tasks. By giving employees ownership and responsibility, you are making them accountable and encouraging professional freedom. You might even learn something from your employees.
8. Streamline meetings
“Don’t confuse meetings with gatherings”
Any business needs meetings to share ideas, report back, make decisions and so on. At the same time, meetings can be such a waste of productive time. To boost productivity, you need to be smart about meetings. Meetings must be efficient and effective. Only invite those employees who need to be there, have a goal-oriented plan, keep minutes, or formulate clear “to-do” lists during the meeting. Consider alternatives, have remote meetings if possible. There is a time and a place for more social get-togethers, just don’t call them meetings. Keep business meetings strategic and productive.
9. Look after your employees
“Nurture people to nurture performance”
Happy, engaged employees are essential to improving productivity. Create a comfortable, positive work environment where employees feel happy and safe. Make them feel good about coming to work. Invest in your employees. Skills training and team-building exercises are a great way to boost morale and improve productivity. If there is camaraderie between team members, work automatically becomes a happier place and productivity goes up. When your team is stressed, productivity suffers. Encourage self-care and a work-life balance, schedule downtime and respect down-time. Let your employees know that there is more to life than just working. Your employees are your most valuable assets; it makes sense to invest in them – both in time and money.
10. Positive feedback and Incentives
“Recognition yields high returns”
Even the most confident person needs positive feedback from time to time. Nothing boosts productivity like positive feedback and incentives to perform well. Being acknowledged for their efforts or praising them for a job well done makes employees feel valued and appreciated.
Rewarding work or giving incentives is your opportunity to give back to your employees. Incentives can be cash, paid holidays, extra time-off, etc. It shows that you appreciate their efforts and that you value and recognise their contributions towards overall productivity. Generally, rewards and praise build self-esteem, which in turn inspires increased productivity. If you want your employees to go the extra mile, give them recognition, positive feedback and rewards. Don’t reward “participation”. Incentives must be for extra effort, extraordinary results or achieving specific goals.
Public praise and incentives could inspire other team members to perform better and reach their goals. If individuals are more productive, the team will be more productive, and this breeds success for any business.