How do you get your employees to be more productive without becoming a micromanager or constantly needing to incentivize staff? How can some teams always get things done smoothly without any hiccups while yours are either lagging or unable to meet deadlines?
These are just some of the many questions managers ask about how they can encourage teams to do work better.
It is frustrating having to justify your team when it is always behind. No matter what you do, you never seem to improve. This is particularly frustrating when you know your team members can do so much more and better.
You need to know the strategies to help them reach their full potential and learn how to apply them without appearing to be too pushy. Read on to find proven strategies that will help you prioritize and improve employee productivity.
What is Employee Productivity?
Employee productivity means that your team is effective and efficient. They use their work hours to produce more and better results in less time.
Being productive is about more than just “doing things.” A person who tweets random content on your business page is technically doing something, but they’re not being productive, are they?
To be productive, your team needs to meet three requirements:
- Get through their work and finish a reasonable quantity of tasks. This means they meet deadlines and don’t spend too much time on a single task.
- They do good quality work. The finished results meet or exceed your expectations.
- They don’t waste time on things that are lower on the priority list. Instead, they use time and effort efficiently.
In other words, workforce productivity is about focusing on the right things at the right times. There’s very little time spent, and the work they do creates the results you want.
That’s why it can be so difficult to turn around a team that’s struggling to be productive. People are working 40 hours a week, and they think you’re telling them to work even harder.
it is useful to invest in your team’s well-being. Encourage your team to stay physically and mentally healthy. Improve the company culture. These things show your team that you care and can help you maximize productivity in the workplace.
The way your team operates is important, too. Things like your work environment, communication habits, and workflows all make a big difference.
1. Set Clear Expectations
Any team, no matter how good it is can only deliver when it knows what is expected from it. YOU need to tell them. What are your expectations or key deliverables? Quantify what you want your team to do.
- Update all tasks in your office software with their current status before the end of the week
- Respond to emails on the same day, even if the response is something like I’ll look into it and get back to you in a day.
- Proofread all marketing materials before turning them in for approval
These are all things that need to be communicated clearly that they are important. It is not as obvious for everyone as you think.
Maybe you think it’s ridiculous that you need to tell an adult to double-check their work for typos, but they might assume that the whole reason a task is submitted for approval is because you want to fix any errorspersonally.
If expectations are not clear, anger and resentment will start to build on both sides. You want things that you don’t get. Your team feels like you are demanding and unfair.
As you work on communication and make your expectations clear, it becomes easier to challenge people with tougher tasks.
As long as the requirements are realistic, you can ask for a little more. Find and build a balance between what your team is delivering now and what you know they can do. Look at each team members past performance data. This can give you a great estimate of their limits. Keeping past performances in mind, ask for increased or improved results.
Being realistic is vital as expectations that appear too challenging will reduce performance. People feel that since they have no chance of reaching that goal, they might as well not try at all.
Use job-specific performance goals to set specific benchmarks in areas that affect key performance directly.
Performance goals are the key focus areas when you are working on workforce productivity. These goals should and can be directly linked to your larger business goals.
For instance, if you want to reduce the number of returns from customers. Your job-specific expectations might look like this:
• For customer support staff, the average satisfaction rating for every agent should be at least 3.6
• For shipping staff, overall order errors should be below 0.5%
• For development staff, any website-related bugs assigned to a developer should be fixed within five business days.
Goals can be both individuals or apply to a specific group of employees. It is possible to evaluate multiple metrics to get a more detailed picture of job performance, but it is more effective to pick a measurement that your employee can directly influence.
It is frustrating for everyone if you expect your marketing team to drive online sales, but they have no control over the layout and user-friendliness of the website. It may be more realistic to expect your marketing team to drive a certain amount of qualified traffic.
It’s also important to let each employee know how often you will be reviewing their performance. Some performance expectations can be tracked on an ongoing basis. Due dates are a good example. You’ll notice immediately if a task or project is overdue.
Others can be measured at specific intervals. It makes sense to track website traffic each month. Higher-level metrics can be reviewed every quarter or once per year.
Have you ever hesitated to send someone a message because you knew they weren’t going to respond before you found the answer on your own? It’s frustrating when your team isn’t there when you need them.
Some basic communication guidelines should be shared to help keep your team running smoothly. These expectations might include:
- Being respectful, honest, and straightforward when talking with co-workers
- Using the appropriate communication channel for the situation (e.g., emails for lengthy discussions, Slack messages for quick updates, etc.)
- Responding to messages promptly
For example, you might tell your team that they should check emails once or twice a day, but that they should check direct Slack messages within a couple of hours.
You can also set limits on how public Slack channels are used to make sure you’re sharing information without interrupting everyone’s day. Many workplaces expect their teams to reply in comments instead of the general channel. This helps to keep conversations organized and prevent important messages from getting buried.
Workflows and processes
Inefficient workflows are a major drain. Your team can spend more time figuring out how to do their job than they spend doing the job.
Most workers feel that the document management processes at their company are broken, with the biggest issue being locating documents. Another 55% of newly hired people say that they don’t get access to the tools and documents they need during onboarding.
Productive companies write things down. Someone on your team should never have to ask you how to do a job. If you are the only person who knows how things are supposed to be done, then everyone has to come to you for answers.
Define roles, write down processes, and keep your workflow documents up to date. You’ll be able to spot inefficiencies in the way you handle projects, and you’ll make it easier for your team to do their jobs independently.
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.