As the world adjusts to a new hyperinflationary and low-growth environment, many companies are looking for better ways to cut down workforce expenses. In addition, the need to have efficient and effective resources continues to grow. As a manager what can we do to achieve both these goals without becoming slave drivers?
Below are some tried, tested, and highly recommended tips for improving workforce skills and performance.
1. Delegate Tasks without Hesitation
This step is very difficult for most managers. And particularly for entrepreneurs and small business managers. Handing over control of tasks that you have been doing since always is a challenge.
However, as you and your business have matured, there are many tasks that others can do as well as you. Prioritize your daily tasks and start to delegate tasks according to the nature of work and department. As a manager, you need to let go of your control and let others step up.
Doing this gives others responsibility and leaves you with time and energy to deal with more important tasks. The employees that get your delegated tasks will also learn from the added responsibility and should work to push efficiency levels upwards.
2. Match Skillsets to Duties
While it may make financial sense to hire less skilled or qualified employees, make sure that they are assigned tasks they are happy doing. For example, a shy staff member may not be delivering their maximum potential in a front office role. Similarly, a back-office staff may do much better in a public dealing role.
In our environment, many people are qualified in fields that do not match their personalities and they end up wasting their potential. Match skills and personalities to the job roles, make a culture where short-term job rotations are a norm and staff can try out different roles to see where they perform best. This serves a dual purpose, employees feel in control of their career prospects, and you can find employees that are the best suited for job positions.
3. Communicate effectively
Now comes my evergreen tip. We all know that effective communication is the basis for an engaged and productive workforce. Communication can be used to keep staff engaged and informed when used in moderation. If employees have to spend 2-3 hours reading and responding to emails, then that is too much.
There is a prevalent “CC” culture in offices that eats up managers’ time.
Explore the efficacy of social networking options for work teams like Slack, WhatsApp, and Zoom meetings. The old-fashioned telephone call can also be effective in resolving confusion or communicating issues related to tasks.
4. Assign Clear and Focused Goals
As managers, we need to issue clear tasks for staff. Ideally, for younger staff members, goals should be simplified into simple and manageable tasks according to experience and education.
Having clearly defined tasks makes employees more productive and keeps them engaged. When employees know what they need to do, and how and when they have to do it, they can perform better.
Keeping goals SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, e-bound) lets everyone stay focused and improves efficiency.
5. Incentivize Employees
The most effective way to improve employee efficiency is to give them incentives to do so. Rewarding staff for jobs done well will motivate them to increase their productivity. In the current economic scenario, managing existing benefits and making them flexible enough to reward employees for work done well is a good option.
Consider the employees’ individual needs or preferences. For example, one employee might appreciate paid time off, and another may appreciate a relaxation in their employee loan terms, while another would prefer a strong letter of recommendation or appreciation. Every employee’s needs are unique, and non-monetary incentives should be kept employee-centric and flexible.
The health benefit plans employees are entitled to can also be used to incentivize employees. This could be through additional coverage clauses being added, lower premium payments from employees, or premium support from the company as a reward.
To make it easier, managers can explore having a superior level included in their group health policy, which will add on top performing or most efficient staff to reward them for good work.
6. Streamline workflows
Try not to fall into the busyness trap as a manager. Don’t give your employees small, unnecessary tasks, particularly when they are working on a more important goal. Take a look at the team’s routine tasks, and assess if anything can be reduced to give employees more time to focus on higher-priority assignments.
For instance, if employees have to write daily reports for their supervisors, which supervisors generally don’t have time to read. consider designing a checklist to cut down time and effort for reporting daily activity. Doing something as a formality is a waste of valuable time and effort.
7. Train and develop employees
Make the extra time and effort to train employees in the necessary skills to do their job. This way, they can accomplish their tasks on their own, and company time won’t be wasted down the road answering simple questions or correcting errors. Training expenses can seem an unnecessary overhead, but it pays off in reduced errors, better efficiency, and performance.
If it is not improving all these things, then training effectiveness should be assessed. If budgetary constraints are emerging and training needs to be reduced, opt for mentorship and shadowing programs with senior management. Such opportunities give employees additional skills that improve efficiency.
8. Encourage a Feedback Culture
There is no chance of increasing employee efficiency if the staff doesn’t know that they are inefficient in the first place. Measure your employees’ performance and have individual meetings to let them know where they are excelling, and which areas they need to improve.
Increasing employee efficiency isn’t always about what employees can do better, some of the responsibility falls on the managers as well. But just like staff members, managers also need feedback to see how they can improve. At times staff need more guidance, or written instructions, or may need more room for catering to customer problems. Asking for feedback gives you clear ways to help employees improve.
9. Think of the Entire Business
Things that may seem like a waste of time right now, might work to your advantage in the long run. So, before rejecting any option, ask how this could benefit the company.
Sadia Zaheer holds a Masters in Business Administration from IBA, Karachi. After working in several financial institutions in Client Management, Corporate Lending, Islamic Banking and Product Management she jumped careers to pursue a career in writing.
She is a Finance, Business and HR Development writer with four years of experience. She reads a lot and takes care of her multiple cats to remain calm.