15 ways to improve productivity at your business now
Brushing teeth twice daily keeps them healthy. Exercising three times a week keeps the body fit. These little activities carried out on a regular basis are exactly the ones contributing to a harmonious life.
It’s the same with a company performance. Business can bloom only when it has meaningful and well-adopted habits. We have collected and tried several of them ourselves, and implementing the following 15 has really proved useful to us:
1. All our employees are able to say how their working day was (quantitatively)
But how do they know? Each person in a company has set and is tracking daily his or her Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs (simply put, they are understandable, meaningful, and measurable goals), and is able to say at the end of the workday how much work he or she has managed to finish — 50%, 70%, 100%, 120%?
2. Our team members know and are driven by company values
Non-violent and natural core values help employees (and customers, as well) to understand the company’s purpose — why everything is being done. “The will to find meaning” is one of the most motivational elements driving human behavior (for example, as Viktor Frankl pointed out in his work).
3. Employees work in an atmosphere of freedom and comfort
Encourage your employees to share their ideas and personal views, and listen to what they have to say. The happiness of employees has a tremendous impact on long-run productivity and therefore should be one of the highest priorities of all the company goals.
4. Team members understand each other’s competence, goals, and priorities
Understanding them means that each team member is able to put their colleagues’ responsibilities down on a piece of paper at anytime. Everyone should also know who to contact in any case, so the project isn’t stuck and problems are being solved.
5. The company has a tool for accurate measuring of productivity
With this tool our employees track their time, as it serves not just as a feedback form, but also for fair rewarding and accurate billing.
6. Each company division has a person who tracks if the set goals and strategies are met
Warning: Too much restriction and control ruins employees’ creativity and motivation. You should avoid micromanagement.
7. We have set a communication rhythm
Flow of information inside the company is maintained by regular meetings — at least once a week. Many people hate meetings, but we find ours very useful. Each Friday morning we go through our tasks from the past week to see if everything has been done. At this time, each employee plans his or her tasks for next week.
8. Our company also maintains regular communication with clients
This may be best with a weekly newsletter filled with useful and interesting content. For example, it can be tips for better company processes (B2B) or valuable info about product features (B2C).
9. We are hiring the best people
Avoiding pitfalls when hiring new staff and picking the best of the best is a real science. We recommend reading a great book on this topic from Geoff Smart and Randy Street called Who: The A Method for Hiring.
10. Managers show regular appreciation to employees
Rather than waiting for mistakes, carefully watch out for every small achievement your employees manage to do and give them an honest compliment.
11. Leaders are very careful with criticism
Criticism can influence one’s productivity very negatively. If you have to criticize, try to call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly (one of Dale Carnegie’s principle). Encourage them to correct the mistake and make it seem easy to do so.
12. Each employee educates him or herself regularly
We recommend that you read books (and then hand them to your employees/other team members) from the best authors in the field by following these two criteria — consult reader reviews and pick authors that have done what you want to do.
13. The company is focused only on doing what we know best and outsource the rest
It is reasonable to delegate the work outside of your company in the following cases:
- If your team works on something creative, but besides this they have to do some work which they find monotonous and boring
- If they have to do something in which they feel they are not very competent
- If there is someone else who can do it in the same quality but with lower costs
14. Employees are allowed to work from their homes
As long as work gets done, it shouldn’t matter when or where it was accomplished. Recent studies show that employees with flexible time schedules and possibility to work remotely are more productive and more engaged.
15. We use technology and tools which contribute to business productivity
Google Docs to collaborate with colleagues on documents. Skype for calls with colleagues working from home. Slack for real-time messaging. Clevork for people analytics and Nozbe to get tasks and projects done. These tools were developed to increase productivity: use them.
After adopting these 15 habits step-by-step throughout last year, many things have changed. Now that we’ve been there and done that, we know what has worked.
Working relations have gotten better, and there are no conflicts or drop outs. Communication between the boss and the employee has become more fluent and internal motivation of employees has risen. We are able to achieve more projects and hand them over to our clients on time. But what matters most is that we enjoy what we do.
Photo: Flickr / hktang CC BY 2.0