If you want to get ahead in business, you need to stick to one specific motto – work smart, not hard. Or rather, do both, but put a preference on smart. Working hard is of course important. You need to make the right sacrifices, the right choices. Working hard means giving your all, and then some. However, working smart means you will get much greater results when you give 100%. So imagine if you can give your one hundred percent, and get results for 150%. This is at the core of productivity.
Namely, productivity is there to make the most out your time. Improving productivity means improving how much work your people can do in one hour, without sacrificing quality. In fact, higher productivity, when implemented correctly, will improve the quality of your work as well. In the article below, we show you some clear tips and tricks you can use to increase your teams productivity.
Keep your people autonomous
First things first – keep your people autonomous. If you want them to stay and be productive, you want to keep them thinking for themselves. Micromanaging every point in your teams work, being a helicopter parent to your employees, it all won’t go well. What you want is to teach them how to work for themselves, how to make smart, good decisions, how to make the most out of a bad situation.
In times of crisis (or opportunity) you all need to be quick on your feet, and make split second decisions when it comes to your work, and your opportunities. You can’t have your people go to you for every little thing, whenever they want. And even in calmer times, with softer seas, you still want them to be autonomous so you can have more time to focus on the more difficult aspects of your business.
Set S.M.A.R.T. goals
Next, a big part of productivity is setting clear, concrete goals. If they don’t know where they should be going, how will your employees know that they are moving in the right direction, that they are actually doing what they should be? And of course, knowing what the core goal is, what place are you moving towards, is also vital for the development of your business, and your employees motivation.
So, we suggest you set SMART goals. This means that your goals have to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time specific. A poorly placed goal is “great success someday”. A clear goal that is in line with SMART is “a 10% increase by the end of 2020”. So, this goal is clear, and specific. It is measurable in that you can measure it ever month, and track it regularly as well. Then, achievable in that, well, it’s not too high. There is something to be said about being properly motivated and having high standards, about reaching for the stars. However, if you set a goal that is too difficult, that can’t be achieved, then you will just discourage your employees, and have them lose motivation when they inevitable fail.
Finally, the goal needs to be time specific. You need to set a concrete timeline, a specific date that you can stick to in order to have a somewhat clear idea on what you are doing, and how you are doing it.
Look at your people like people, not stats
Now, we have, and will continue, with mentioning that your people are people, that you need to see them as human beings, not statistics. But, here we want to mention it in terms of motivation. Namely, your handbooks, and guides, they all might mention archetypes, or just general rules on motivation. However, we urge you to not go do things by route, but rather, to focus and to actually figure out what motivates them.
Maybe they respond well to pressure. Or perhaps, they prefer the carrot to the stick. Maybe your employees will be motivated by money, while another might prefer a training seminar. Perhaps one likes it when you are direct, while another prefers you being polite.
Create a pleasant work environment
You want to create a pleasant work environment, you want to make things not only ok, but very pleasant for your people. Productivity doesn’t increase (in the long term) by being a taskmaster, by having your people work in a dungeon. What actually does make it better, and stronger, is creating a place where people will like to work.
Now, there are a couple of things you can do. Firs things first, the rec room. Keep your recreational are running, keep it nice and comfy. Get some coffee machine for office use, lots of comfy couches and sofas, maybe even a pool or a foosball table.
Next, the office itself should be properly maintained and cleaned. Working in a clean environment will be much more pleasant than working in a dirty, grime filled area, filled with junk and clutter. Dirty bathrooms, a carpet that hasn’t been vacuumed in weeks, all of this will destroy employee motivation and, in turn, employee productivity.
Make the office beautiful
Another important aspect of keeping motivation and productivity at a high level is simply making the office beautiful. Now, were not saying you should hire the best office designers form the high-art world of Paris, Milan, and Vienna. What we are saying is that adding a bit of colours and style to your office can work wonders.
Ditch the neon, dead lights, and stick to something a bit better, something a bit nicer. Get some colour in there. You don’t have to paint the walls completely in a new colour. A simple accent, like a coloured futon, some pillows, or an art piece of two can be exactly what you need to make the place look stylish, and like a second home.
We also advise you get as much natural light in there as possible. While we of course understand that you can’t always get natural lights, if you have the opportunity, the funds, you should do so. Open up your windows, install a skylight, or just get an office that has large windows already. Vitamin D is very benefice, it improves your mood, and it strengthens your immune system.
Be a leader
Another thing that is vital for your success and the results you want to achieve is being a leader. Now, this means not only being a leader in terms of hard work, of dedication, but also about setting an example.
Being a boss is great – you call the shots, you make serious decisions, people listen to you, and you yourself control the narrative and the culture at the office. However, that doesn’t mean you have complete control over everybody, nor should they just listen to everything you say just because. What you really want to do, and what to be, is a leader, not a boss.
A leader is right there in the trenches. He or she motivates the team, leads by example. You are the first one to walk through the door, and the last one to get out. Work harder than everybody else, and this will in turn motivate them to work just as hard.
By showing yourself as lazy, as undedicated, as simply not motivated and not caring about your business, you will also show to your employees that it’s completely ok to do just that. Why would the employees care about the company if you don’t care?
Nurture relationships and team work
What you also want to do is nurture team work and proper relationships. You will have your people act like a team, have them become friends. This will improve the mood at the office significantly, as well as help everybody feel better about the work. However, the core benefit of nurturing relationships at the office is more about getting them to collaborate, to do good work, work that is effective and useful. Having everybody feel like they are part of a team will help them become more motivated, more interested in the company itself.
Now, you can do this in several ways. First of all, simply nurture relationships. Be friendly, let people know that you (and the company) sees them as people, not just cogs in a machine. Go out for drinks with your team, hang out after work. Another thing you can try is have them do team building exercise. Paintball, laser tags, these are the old tried and true exercises for building team spirit and motivation. And of course, company retreats in general are very enjoyable. Get some excuse, go on a company seminar, on an all-expense paid trip, and just relax with your people on a beach somewhere.
Get them some training
No matter what line of work you are in, you can be pretty certain that employee training always comes useful. On one concrete level, you get people who are better at their jobs. Your company becomes more competitive, you become more focused, and you can expect better results, stronger knowledge, and an overwhelmingly better sense of the industry itself. This all, of course leads to better and higher productivity.
However, there is another aspect that also equally leads to higher productivity when it comes to training. Namely, offering your people improvement (paid by the company) helps them achieve more, helps them get much better results, in a shorter period of time. This is because they will become more motivated. If they see that the best employees are sent to paid seminars, on pleasant business trips, they will also get the urge to follow suite, to be prat of all of this. This means they will work extra hard. Think of it like a carrot you dangle in front of them on a stick.
Give proper feedback
Learn how to give feedback properly. A big part of increasing and improving your team’s productivity is centred on simply telling them how to improve, giving advice, as well as reprimanding them for mistakes they really shouldn’t be making. However, there is a right way to do this, and a wrong way to do this.
What we suggest is doing it the right way. Namely, the right way is all about a simple phrase “praise in public, scold in private”. When you see one of your people doing their job properly, when they seem to be on the ball, when they go above and beyond what you expected of them, that is when you want to praise them. So, let everybody in the room know that person X has done a fantastic job. Showing your approval goes a long way. In doing this, you let people know that you recognize success and good work, and that you appreciate it immensely.
However, when it comes to scolding, you have to do it in private. Make the distinction between mistakes that are ok, and mistake that should not have been made. Mistakes caused by laziness, or impatience, or lack of care should not be tolerated. Still, scolding them in private means you don’t expose this person to public embarrassment, something that is often more frightening than even getting fired.
Now, be careful. If, for example, the entire team failed, while one person did a good job, you actually want to praise him in private, while give the entire team a clear explanation of what went wrong. If you praise your employees in front of everybody, you might make them turn against this person, as well as make it seem like you have favourites.
And there you go folks, a couple of tips and tricks you can use to maximize your teams productivity. Whether it’s as simple as setting goals, leading by examples or keeping those goals S.M.A.R.T., know that you will never waste time if you focus on making people more productive. Nurture relationships and team work, make the office much better to work in – keep it clean, keep it beautiful, get as much natural light in as possible.