To be competitive in the marketplace today takes more than lowering prices or expanding your product line. To stay profitable today companies have to improve productivity. Here are some simple ways to do it.
While productivity issues may need more study to determine if there are serious problems, many managers have found that communicating key information and changing their point of view have helped improve productivity.
Communicate Universal Outcomes
Try to describe clearly the outcomes you and the organization want to see. Tell people what you envision for the future"owhat it looks like, who's involved, what your products and services are. If you can describe the outcomes you envision, you will more easily be able to figure out how to reach them, and you'll know when you've done it.
Without other information, employees make assumptions, which then become the underlying structure for decisions and actions. The danger comes when the assumptions are not correct or cause confusion. Valuable time is wasted and resources are used up. Before embarking on any new venture, explain the context. Why are we taking this step? What purpose does it serve? How does it fit with where we want the company to be five years from now? Be sure everyone understands the context of an action before you take it.
Make Clear What Success Looks Like
Just like vision and context set the stage for effective action, when employees know what they will need to do to be successful, they can be more effective. Ask, “What does success in this role look like? What indicators will tell us the person is successful?” Then communicate the success factors in terms of behavior¾this is what you need to do, as well as measurable outcomes¾this is what you need to produce or achieve.
Agree On Individual Expectations
When determining what success looks like, get the employee's input. What does it look like to him or her? What will the employee need to do in order to achieve success? Then get the person's agreement to the goals, and commitment to the desired outcomes.
Is the employee who works twelve hours a day and ten more hours on the weekend your best employee? Maybe not. Maybe that person is your most out of balance and burned out employee. Human beings need time to rest, restore their energy, and enjoy a variety of activities. They need time for their communities, their families, and themselves. When they have time for recreation¾literally, re-creation¾they have more to contribute and are probably more productive in eight hours than they would have been in twelve.
Everyone contributes every day. Yet how often are those contributions recognized? There is a direct correlation between recognition and praise, and employee satisfaction and retention. Recognition doesn't have to be expensive or cumbersome. Studies have shown that the rewards that mean the most are those that are personal, immediate, and sincere. In other words, when you say “thank you,” “you did a good job," or "I appreciate all your hard work," employees feel valued. They also feel motivated and are likely to be more productive.
There are some battles that just aren't worth fighting, and there are some battles you just can't win. Keep your vision in front of you, your priorities clear, and don't spend time and energy on other things. Determine what saps your energy and takes you off-course. Some energy drains might be: needing to prove you're right, hanging on to clients that don't buy or whom you can't please, jockeying for position in the limelight, or trying to change the past. Know when to let go and get on with it.
If you and your employees can follow these simple steps, it's likely you will be more productive. In addition, because some of these steps force you to think things through and communicate more clearly, chances are there will be less confusion and more focus on what's important.