When you’re running a team, you’re not just hiring the right set of people required to fill certain roles and take care of certain responsibilities, you’re taking on an asset that comes with a cost. In order to ensure that asset is a net positive for the business, you have to also ensure that they’re making you more than they cost, which is not always an easy equation to work out. That’s why we pay attention to productivity in the workplace, such as the following steps that you can take to maximize it.
Start making measurements for productivity
If you want to make any changes that are supposed to have a positive impact on the productivity of your team, to help them get more done in a given period of time, then you should think about the metrics that you use to define that in the first place. Coming up with a good set of key performance indicators is a good idea. You can look at plenty of KPI examples for good ideas, but the question of “which works best” is going to depend on the nature of work that the person does and what metrics best represent their productivity, so it’s worth taking time to think about.
Teach them how to prioritize their work
In cases where your employees are largely in control of the work that they do from day to day and also have a range of responsibilities that they have to manage, it can be wise to teach the importance of prioritizing the work that matters most. Focusing on the work that is urgent or most vital to their function or the team’s objectives can make sure that they’re not being slowed by work that could, by all means, be left to wait a while longer. There are tools like the priority matrix that they can use to objectively work out which tasks they should be focusing on now, and which can be left for slower periods.
Use batch workload management
Teaching your team to set out a work schedule for themselves can work well, as well. If they break up their day into chunks of time, they can decide which tasks are going to be their focus for that chunk. It allows them to focus on a task while making sure that their day is structured enough to make sure they get around to everything they want to. This can be improved even further with the tip of batching their work tasks. This means taking the tasks that are either similar or at least use the same kind of solutions and methods to work on, and doing them in batches one after another. If a worker is constantly switching the kind of work they have to do drastically, it can take them longer to get from one work mode to another.
Eliminate distractions where possible
Of course, it’s not, and some might say rarely, down to the individual worker how productive they are. More often, they’re being influenced by their work environment, and sometimes this can mean the physical environment around them. For instance, if they work in an office, then they could be surrounded by distractions including noise, visuals, and interruptions that prevent them from being as productive as they are. You can use some tools like website blockers to diminish these distractions to some degree, but effective office design is going to be a much more plausible solution for many.
Find the schedule that works for them
Not every business is going to work well with flexible timing. In some cases, you simply need to make sure that you have access to your team in a given time period, and not having them there can result in hold-ups in other peoples’ work. Where flexible working does work, however, smart scheduling also has to be taken into account. Finding out the times that your workers are at their most productive and using tools like an auto-scheduler to ensure that they are booked for those times can ensure that you’re getting them working when they are at their best.
Call on them when you need them
In some cases, it might not be that you have set the schedule to suit the working habits and needs of the workers, but you have to know where and when to assign them to get the best out of them. For instance, if you have a team of workers that’s out in the field, such as a team of HVAC technicians, then having the ability to see where they are, and to send them out to jobs that are close and make use of the tools and skills they have on hand, such as with HVAC dispatch software, can see your team getting on-site and to work much sooner. Without the right dispatch team or tools, it can result in a lot of wasted time trying to figure out which worker is best suited for each job that pops up.
Offer constructive feedback
Where you are able to pinpoint issues that might be causing or contributing to less-than-optimal productivity, you should be willing to step in and offer constructive feedback to your employees. It’s important that this is handled the right way. Don’t frame it in a way that may make it seem like the employee is getting reprimanded, but rather look at it as a challenge that you are both cooperating together to tackle. Outline the issues, and make suggestions on what you think might be able to fix them. Of course, if you’re bringing up an issue with their productivity, you had better have a fix in mind, otherwise, you could be leaving them with a burden that they have no good idea of how to shift.
Listen to their feedback too
There are some issues, like improper use of defined work methods or tools, that you might be able to recognize easily as being in the way of an employee’s optimal productivity. However, don’t assume that you always have the answers. Be willing to look from other perspectives, especially form the perspectives of those who are on the ground, doing the work. Talk to your employees and get their feedback about how they and their workload are managed, and if there is anything that they believe could be done to help them be more productive. You never know, you might just get an idea that could address a widespread productivity problem by listening to someone who has a solution but doesn’t feel confident in sharing it because you haven’t yet built a work environment that fosters feedback.
Offer rewards and incentive
Although you might think that getting paid is enough reason for your employees to want to make sure that they’re being as productive as they should be, that argument isn’t going to hold too much water in their minds. You can try using the carrot of letting them know that poor productivity won’t be tolerated, but many workplaces have highlighted a much better probability of success using the carrot instead, such as using an employee rewards system to recognize the work of those who are doing more, also acting as an incentive to encourage others to do the same.
There is no one clear defining metric of productivity that will work across the board. You will likely not even find one that works consistently across one workplace. Whatever we can offer, however, are the tools to start measuring it more specifically, and to affect changes that hopefully help you measure it all the better.