It’s a New Year and boosting your team’s productivity is a great way to get the year off to a good start.
Based on seeing what management and training programmes help organisations improve efficiency and engagement, here are my tips for getting the most out of staff.
Recognise hard work
There’s nothing more stifling to employee motivation than not having their efforts recognised. Of course, the appreciation should be proportional to the level of extra effort as well as its support of key team and organisational priorities. There are big gestures like pay rewards, but even ‘free’ recognition such as publicly praising a particular person during a team meeting leave a lasting impression.
The key to a a pay and reward system is to strategically align it with the main elements of your business strategy and have a fair, compliant and transparent reward framework. Also, comparing your reward and pay system to industry standards and best practices is key. A consultant familiar with your industry is a great ally to establish benchmarks and model the costs/benefits of various options.
Create an engaging work environment
‘Command and control’ efforts to encourage productivity only go so far. After that it’s about truly engaging the hearts and minds of your team. There’s no one-size fits all approach to engagement, so tailoring the approach is key.
The first thing to do is to define what you want to achieve, then begin to ‘temperature check’ existing levels of engagement and prevalent employee attitudes. Using a third-party for designing an effective data gathering and analysis scheme (such as a survey) helps build employee confidence in the confidentiality and rigour of the programme.
Cultivate a culture of wellness
Perhaps the most common New Year’s resolution is to eat healthier and exercise more. Since our job is where many of us spend a good portion of our waking hours, it makes sense to bring this dedication to workplace wellness. There are lots of ways to incentivise healthy choices at work, which can help beat the after-lunch productivity slump. A culture of wellness also means managing stress in yourself and your team, which is the cause of billions of pounds lost annually for UK companies in the form of unplanned absences.
Retain talent and promote from within
Nothing demotivates an employee faster than not having a clear vision of their personal path forward in a company. Demonstrating and reiterating that your organisation wants to promote from within is vital. Also, HR and training managers should work with line managers to create professional development plans for all teams and positions. Consistently planning for individual improvement through training ensures more innovation, competitiveness and productivity.
Communicate the big picture
Give people context to their role.
In the rush of the day to day, the reason why your team is working so hard can get lost. Regularly remind your team why each of your tasks are essential to business growth and performance. Often a lack of effective communication in this area comes from a simple lack of effective leadership management and coaching.
Regularly catch up
Managers should be very aware of employee concerns or needs, especially before they become problems that effect performance and the performance of others. Regular formal and informal catch up sessions ensure employees have a private forum to work through workplace challenges and communicate suggestions for improved productivity and teamwork.
Take daily and annual breaks
Which is better 8 hours working at 50% productivity or 7 hours working at 100%? Take that lunch break to clear your head and refresh – and encourage your team to do the same. Similarly, value your annual leave. And if you see someone on your team who rarely takes their allotted time, it could be a sign of a stress time bomb!
Take time out - walk around, have breaks, have your annual leave entitlement. Everyone needs a holiday. Provide time to refocus, refresh and be well rested, instead of ‘burning out’.
Get to the root of poor performance
Don’t sweep poor performance under the rug or hope an employee will improve on their own. Bad behaviour or under-performance could be a sign of deeper underlying issues or dissatisfaction that should be looked into immediately. And make sure you have the appropriate policies and procedures for dealing with disciplinary issues.