“Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customer. I think you build one with your employees first.”
Angela Ahrendts, Senior Vice President, Apple
According to the latest International Comparison of Productivity by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), British productivity was 18% lower than the average hourly output across the other G7 nations in 2014.
As a manager and leader, you want to get the best out of your team; and that means being productive.
Productivity is about being effective in delivering high-quality work and capturing the best results.
High productivity from your team necessitates that you be there to provide support, guidance and feedback whenever it is required.
Employees performing to the best of their ability at all times are beneficial for the company but also the employees themselves, and your role as a leader plays a huge part in their overall productivity.
The productivity of your team can be improved if you approach how you interact with them and each task that your team encounters.
Follow the ten steps below and you’ll be well on your way to making your team more productive.
1. Hire the Best in the Business
Outstanding candidates in their field can inspire other employees to perform better in their roles and increase their own productivity.
But to attract the best talent you have to make your business stand out as one of the best employers.
That requires you to demonstrate to your prospective employees your ability to help them develop and reach their career goals.
If you give everyone a chance to give back to the business, their productivity will increase to illustrate the calibre of work they are capable of.
The best candidates are able to demonstrate their skills and productivity with the right guidance, and even under pressure.
The best employees are those who ask the tough questions and identify flaws in plans that can adversely affect productivity.
Try not to micro-manage or watch every task they’re performing—highly productive employees don’t require you to hold their hand through each task, in fact, it can have the reverse effect!
2. Have an Emphasis on Training
Providing unrivalled training for your employees equips them with the tools to tackle each task to the best of their ability, for the benefit of your company.
According to the 2017 Workplace Learning Report from LinkedIn over one-quarter of learning and development professionals expected a budget increase in 2017 for learning and development programmes.
Some of your team may identify training that will be of benefit for them—this demonstrates that they are proactively seeking to improve their skills and have the needs of the business in mind.
Training is another string to the team member’s bow and will improve their quality of work, leading to more autonomy and productivity.
Striving to have continuous training in place within the culture of your company shows that you are investing in employees’ skills and future development.
3. Set Clear Goals from the Get-Go
Nothing harms productivity more than having to define your goal as you work.
It’s a fact—the clearer your goal is, the easier it is to work towards.
The key is to be proactive and not reactive by prioritising goals ahead of time.
Having clear goals from the start allows you to work on them from day one instead of having to figure things out as you go along.
Ensure that your employees know what they have to do and never leave it open to interpretation.
Define each goal and what is expected from the get-go. Your team will actively work towards a common goal if everyone’s role is clearly defined and the benefits to your organisation are clearly communicated.
Further reading: Defining Your Business Goals
4. Give Feedback
Feedback leads to improvement which in turn leads to increased productivity.
People learn from mistakes. Feedback can help colleagues learn from their oversights and take pride in what they’ve done well.
Feedback provides a space for open conversations and reflection on processes, ensuring that any issues can be addressed immediately to allow productivity to increase.
Employees will be more productive when they feel that their work is valued, and feedback is a great way to show that you care and are willing them on to get it right next time.
Giving credit where it’s due instils confidence and ensures employees are willing to give the next project 100%.
When something doesn’t go to plan, take responsibility. As the leader, it’s ultimately down to you. Accepting that things could have been better is the first step on getting back to your winning ways.
Your team will see your leadership and react to it. Seeing that you are willing to make changes in the way you approach things will help your employees to trust your judgement, grow in confidence and ultimately improve their productivity.
5. Reward Good Work
Rewarding work, like giving feedback, is a great incentive for increased productivity.
Rewards for outstanding work are a great incentive to motivate and increase productivity—but be careful!
Don’t dish out rewards when your team just completes work on time. Only reward work that has been done to an extraordinary standard or under particular testing circumstances.
I’m not saying that you should never reward your team, just set a precedent for the level of success that you’re expecting. Celebrating when a task is completed well gives an incentive to work harder and be more productive.
According to a study carried out by members of the British psychological society, when employees have a creative outlet outside of work hours, they can reflect on their day more effectively, improving their productivity when they get back to work.
6. Use the Right Technology for the Best Results
Give your employees a productivity advantage through technology.
Productivity has the potential to skyrocket when the correct technology is employed. In the ONS study mentioned earlier, it was found that almost 90% of CEOs in the UK say digital technology is vital to improving productivity.
The potential to chat instantly with colleagues, share files, assign out work and collaborate on shared projects will help them increase their productivity and reduce reliance on email and other forms of office communication that don’t necessarily help teams become more productive.
Adding project management and team collaboration apps like Tameday to your business can greatly reduce the amount of time chasing replies to queries, sending files back and forth to be amended as well as having to keep an eye on each separate project.
Keep all project work and correspondence together instead of wasting valuable time at meetings.
7. Encourage Everyone to Move Out of Their Comfort Zone
“Change begins at the end of your comfort zone.” ―
Taking risks can be beneficial for the company so ambitious attitudes should be rewarded.
Challenge your team to set their own demanding targets so they are aware of their important role within the organisation.
It’s easy to punish failure and it can have a detrimental effect on team morale, productivity and their willingness to be ambitious for future projects.
Instead, invite your employees to come up with their own solutions to issues that they face and provide you with their own analysis on how they performed and which areas they could improve.
Encouraging employees to move out of their comfort zone encourages innovation and autonomy, leading to better results and increased productivity.
Further reading: 5 Ways to Keep Employees Challenged
8. Let Your Employees Take Charge of Their Own Work
Allowing your team to run its own schedule within reason encourages more professional freedom.
With more professional freedom, employees feel less constrained and can help themselves be more productive by tracking how much time they are spending on each task, deciding on which part of the project needs the most attention and where the most time should be devoted.
Don’t be afraid to guide your team in the right direction and step in if things seem to be heading off course. According to Susan M. Heathfield, your organisation has “the responsibility to create a work environment that helps foster the ability and desire of employees to act in empowered ways.”
9. Be Yourself When in Charge
Well, you can’t be anyone else.
Your employees will respond best when you’re being yourself. It will also allow them to be themselves and feel more attached to the work that they’re doing.
Building trust among your colleagues is the gateway to increased productivity and longevity in the business.
Leading in a way that reflects your personality strengthens bonds between your team and gives them a reason to be more productive.
When the team is more productive, everyone succeeds.
10. Use Tameday
Our project management tool, Tameday, has been designed to help teams of all size improve their productivity and their projects on track. Tameday keeps every project, team, client and conversation all in one place… And it’s free to use!
Using any project management software should be about making real progress, giving your team control of projects and allowing them to get things done.