When a team is under performing it can have a demoralising effect on everyone involved, so what can you do to motivate them into improving their productivity?
How can you get your team “working smarter, not harder”?
Here are twelve tips on how to help and inspire your team to be more productive, without having to constantly motivate and micromanage them.
Twelve tips to working smarter, not harder
To get your team working smarter but not harder, they need to use their time wisely, this will result in your team getting more done in less time. However, to make them more productive, whatever tasks they do also need to be done well.
- Front-load the work – assign the harder, bigger, and more pressing tasks at the start of the day, shift or week. This will set your team up for early success and a sense of achievement, allowing the remainder of the day, shift or week to be more relaxed, and setting aside time to be reflective or interactive.
- Stop multitasking – successful multitasking is a myth. It is easier, and therefore more productive, to invest focus or brainpower on similar tasks at one time. Encourage your employee to single task their way through their work.
- Combine related tasks – not switching back and forth between different tasks is more efficient. Allocate a specific time for things that can cause distractions from task completion, such as admin or answering emails.
- Cutting down to-do lists – a smaller to-do list feels more achievable. Encourage your staff to prioritise their three most urgent tasks, get them done, tick them off and then list and tackle the next three.
- Time tracking – ask your employees to track their time spent on each task for a few days or a week, this can highlight where things are taking longer than they should and where bottlenecks are forming.
- Productivity review – reviewing the time tracked tasks and identifying what’s not working will help to prioritise and resolve any resource issues or time inefficiencies.
- Taking breaks – without regular breaks our brains get tired and distracted. Ensure your team take their allocated breaks enabling them to recharge and return to work with a more productive and positive mind set.
- Consistent expectations and goals – when employees are forced to choose between competing expectations, they can become stressed and unfocused. Setting consistent goals can make it easier for employees to choose which tasks to prioritise. To assist your team, ask them to write a list of common tasks and help them to place them in order of importance.
- Fewer process constraints – bottlenecks at work can occur when an employee doesn’t have access to the right information or required resources. Identifying where the constraints are happening and finding solutions to any issues with the processes, will improve employee efficiency.
- Assign a mix of tasks – if you notice a team member takes a particularly long time to achieve their tasks, they may be unsatisfied and underchallenged. Try balancing your employees’ more repetitive tasks with things they get satisfaction from completing and assign them goals that will help them to develop their skills and enhance their knowledge.
- Put people in the right roles – unused abilities and unrecognised talents can leave employees feeling undervalued and unhappy with their work. When recruiting your employees, always be transparent about the role you are hiring for and what tasks they will be expected to perform. Once a candidate is in the role, make sure that the job description used when advertising the job still aligns with their duties.
- Avoid a set-up-to-fail culture – when an employee performs poorly, it may be assumed that they can’t prioritise, lack direction, or can’t follow instructions. Sometimes, this is the case, however it may be that they are living up to the low expectations their managers have for them. Set you employees up for success by expecting the best from them.
Putting the right candidate in the right job, with the right mix of tasks, level of autonomy and responsibility, with access to resources and technology, and equipping them with the know-how to prioritise, will result in increased team efficiency and overall productivity.
A guide to increasing employee productivity
Focus on making changes within the workplace that are achievable and will have the maximum impact on the work environment. Getting these factors right will increase staff happiness,which will also boost productivity.
- Wellbeing – to create a supportive work culture where employees feel comfortable asking for help, introduce a wellness programme that encourages self-care.
- Work environment – create a safe work environment with a zero-discrimination tolerance. Organise team building and social events to assist with team bonding.
- Company culture – shared values, open communication, and a no-blame ethos will contribute to a positive company culture.
- Realistic goal setting and achievement recognition – set achievable targets and offer praise when they do. Measure people only on the things they can directly influence.
- Processes and workflows – to improve work efficiencies invest in technology and equipment, gather employee feedback, and implement their suggested changes (where appropriate and possible).
- Team motivation – offer training, coaching, or mentoring, hold regular one-to-ones for continuous assessments, ensure access to sufficient resources and always offer positive reinforcement.
Increasing employee productivity shouldn’t involve micromanagement. Encourage your employees to take ownership of their time and resources and to be proactive in looking after their wellbeing. Give them a safe and supportive work environment, set achievable goals with positive rewards, and build trusting relationships. Implement this and your productivity levels should automatically increase.