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In the business world, productivity is king, queen, and all the members of the royal court. Where employees produce quality work on a routine basis, businesses can thrive. But getting to this point is never easy. It takes vision, compassion, and a willingness to both stick with what works and abandon what doesn’t. This article offers some helpful ideas for reaching a state of increased productivity.
Start with the Man (or Woman) in the mirror
As a pop song once counselled, if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself. Changing the world is far beyond what any article on the Internet can accomplish, but changing your business for the better is a good place to start. There are a few simple but effective steps that any business owner or manager can take, in order to raise their productivity and improve their general outlook going forward.
The sense of being overwhelmed or drowning in work is ultimately counterproductive. This can lead to the perceived need to work ever-longer hours, in the hopes of getting on top of all projects and assorted deadlines. The truth is that there are only so many hours in a day, and cutting into the time set aside for family and community work, as well as for good old-fashioned sleep, isn’t going to make life any easier. As any self-help guru or conference speaker never gets tired of repeating, “Work smarter, not harder.”
But what do these words really mean? In reality, they can mean whatever a person decides that they do. For example, “working smarter” could mean removing distractions such as a smartphone or an email inbox. It might seem that these improve daily productivity by keeping their users connected at all times, but they can also cause distractions or lead to a lower level of concentration on essential tasks. It’s entirely possible that putting the smartphone in a drawer for a few hours, or setting up an automatic reply to all incoming emails, could help lead to increased focus on the tasks that matter most.
Remember that you are not alone
It’s possible that a business owner or manager may already be operating at or near personal capacity. Theodore Roosevelt’s suggestion to do what you can, with what you have, where you are is a worthy goal, and one that can actually be achieved sometimes. In a situation like this, it is imperative to think about the employees of a company, and finding ways to increase or maximise their productivity, as well:
- Offer positive feedback for prior accomplishments,
- Plan for an informal work gathering at a place outside of the office,
- Bring in a tray of fresh fruit or pastries,
- Create a contest to encourage creative expression of ideas,
- Locate a conference speaker or recognised expert for sharing new ideas.
The important thing to remember is that happy employees are more productive than unhappy ones. Disengaged or indifferent employees can have a negative effect on those around them, and finding ways to engage and encourage them can be well worth the challenge, in terms of increased loyalty and greater staff cohesion.
Make that change, whatever it might be
Maintaining the status quo is sometimes the easiest thing to do. The old saying suggests that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But who says that something needs to be broken before action is needed?
Fine-tuning the procedures in a work environment is not an admission that things were not working well already. Rather, it’s an indication that things could work even better than they already are, and finding changes that will lead to tangible results is a worthy undertaking. Standing still and moving forward are two entirely different actions, and a successful path forward can lead to increased productivity and greater opportunities.
A recent study found that the three primary motivations of employees are pay/compensation, job security, and having a chance to use their skills at work. There are other factors involved with employee satisfaction, but these three were the most important ones identified. Perhaps the most important challenge an employer faces is to identify the skills and abilities of everyone on their team, and put each of them into a setting where these skills can be utilised. When these skills are put on display on a regular basis, productivity and job satisfaction will increase in tandem with each other.
Increasing productivity is an essential part of success for any business. It takes real commitment on the part of business owners and managers to first look at themselves, and then at the people who report to them, and find changes and improvements that will unlock the hidden potential inside.
Image by Matt Gibson via Flickr