Time is a precious resource in any business. If you’re a business leader, you’ve probably wished more times than you can count that there are more hours in a day to get everything done.
Sometimes it may feel as if your team isn’t working as efficiently as possible and could be achieving more in the average work day.
Imagine if you could reduce delays in your workplace processes that are caused by miscommunication, low employee engagement or a lack of initiative. Think of the value that would deliver to your business.
Improving team productivity isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes careful planning, strategising, prioritising as well as practice on your part.
Let’s take a look at some tried and true tactics for improving your team’s productivity.
#1 – Adopt A ‘Coaching’ Approach
The best managers help their teams solve problems rather than telling them what to do.
As a manager, it can be second nature to jump in and start directing your team when there’s a problem or a challenge. But you don’t have to try and solve every issue all the time. It’s important to try to take a step back, take a coaching approach and help your team figure out a solution by themselves.
By listening and asking the right questions, rather than telling, you will empower your team to develop problem solving skills and come up with ways to improve current processes.
When your employees develop more initiative, they will rely less on your constant input and therefore become more productive with their time. This in turn will help to free up your own time.
#2 – Set Clear Expectations For Your Team
To start improving team productivity, you must first define specific goals for your business. Then you need to define individual team member goals that will directly contribute to achieving your business goals. Each team member needs to understand the part they have to play in the business achieving its goals.
For example – let’s say one of your business goals is to reach an additional $1 million in national sales within 12 months. Now, you have to communicate this to the team members who are responsible for making it happen so they understand the role they have to play.
To break this goal down further, you could give each of your five head sales reps a goal of making $200,000 in new sales within those 12 months.
You would then break this goal down again. Through discussion with your sales reps, you should set monthly and weekly targets based on their expected performance capabilities, seasonality, planned campaigns etc.
But it doesn’t end there.
The next step is to break down the goals even further. Plan out the lead indicators the sales rep would need to achieve on a weekly basis to meet their sales targets based on their average conversion rate.
So your sales rep could have the following lead indicators:
- X number of prospect phone calls a week
- X number of meetings
- X number of quotes
- X number of signed proposals worth $X
The way you break down your goals for your team will of course depend on what you are trying to achieve. It doesn’t have to be all about meeting sales targets. Your business goals may be focused on achieving a better DIFOT rate, reducing quality issues or meeting a certain level of output.
Also, consider the values of your business when setting goals. It’s not just about the ‘what’ but the ‘why’ and the “how” you go about doing business. The behaviours your employees demonstrate should support your values which build your ideal culture. Your workplace culture will always be the fundamental cornerstone on which your business operates and is what separates you from your competitors.
Essentially, your team needs to be given a very clear understanding of what they need to achieve, how to do it (behaviours) and why they are doing it. Otherwise they will simply do what they think is expected of them and may take an approach that’s simply not productive.
Finally, your goals and expectations should be MEASURABLE so you can evaluate your teams’ performance and adjust your strategies if needed.
#3 – Have Regular Quality Conversations With Your Team
Quality feedback is one of the most important motivators for improving employee performance and engagement.
It is your responsibility as a leader to provide regular and constructive feedback to your team to guide their performance and behaviour.
If you’re only providing feedback during annual performance reviews, you are missing critical opportunities to effectively reward and recognise positive behaviours and performance. When your team doesn’t know if they are doing a good job or not, they will begin to make assumptions such as “no news is good news” or that their work is not appreciated by anyone. These assumptions will impact their attitude and levels of productivity.
The best leaders provide in-the-moment feedback.
At a minimum, my advice would be to arrange short, weekly check-ins with each of your team members. Use these opportunities to ask them questions like;
- What’s your win for the day/week?
- What’s your priority?
- What do you need help with?
You should also use these check-ins to provide specific feedback on what they are doing well or not so well.
#4 – Ensure There Are Consequences For Positive And Negative Performance
Following on from the importance of providing feedback, you should also provide consequences to your team for both good and bad work.
If an employee or your whole team does a good job, their performance should be rewarded. A reward does not have to be money, although it of course can be if appropriate. Rewarding your team can take the form of praising them publicly in the workplace. This approach will give everyone else in your workplace an understanding of what good performance looks like.
Try to make the recognition specific to each individual so they feel valued and appreciated. This will inspire them to keep doing a good job and keep working productively for you.
In the case of poor performance, this too needs to be formally addressed, especially if its an ongoing concern. If poor performance is allowed to continue, team morale and productivity will ultimately suffer.
Need Further Advice? Talk To Harrison Human Resources
With our HR Consulting service, we can provide practical advice and guidance for increasing team productivity as well as strategies for improving employee performance.
Simply click here to request an obligation-free 15 minute phone consult to get some initial advice on your HR needs.
Claire Harrison is the Founder and Managing Director of Harrison Human Resources, a flourishing HR consulting business that sprouted in 2009 from Claire’s passionate belief that inspiring leaders and superstar employees are the key success factor to any business. With over 20 years’ experience, Claire has worked as a HR Director of multi-national organisations, as a Non-Executive Board Director, and a small business owner. Claire’s corporate career includes working with companies such as BHP, Westpac, Fonterra and Mayne Nickless.