Let’s say you’ve put together a strong team of employees. They are smart, talented, ambitious, and eager to learn. You’re satisfied with your hiring choices and optimistic about what this potentially high-performing team can achieve.
Yet, for some reason, the team so far has failed to meet expectations. Is this under-performance related to the individuals themselves, or is there something dysfunctional about your company’s culture? In other words, what’s holding the team back from accomplishing all the grand objectives needed to keep the business thriving into the future?
Here’s a look at factors that play into productivity, along with suggestions on how to make your workplace hum with high performance:
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Start at the top
Achieving peak productivity often starts with the person at the top. You must be someone people want to follow and you must act as a responsible leader. As a role model, “if you work seemingly around the clock, your team may feel obliged to do the same—which wreaks havoc with their attempts to balance work and life.”
Just as importantly, if you aren’t regularly interacting with employees, “you foster a distance between yourself and the organization that tends to depress morale and productivity.”
Look at the work you’re asking people to do
In virtually every job, certain duties and responsibilities have to be met—but aren’t always very exciting to undertake. That comes with the territory, and a dedicated employee understands and accepts this.
However, if these duties and responsibilities are all that the employees do, day in and day out, it should come as no surprise if you see repeated episodes of employee burnout. Work “should not be a grind, it should not be drudgery,” as we have noted before. “People like to work in great teams that are doing great work … and they have the opportunity to do something truly special.”
Pay close attention to those tasks that consume most of your team’s time. If some of these tasks can be automated or delegated to others, look for fresh challenges to assign to your peak performers. You’ll likely see a spike in productivity right away.
Assess workplace conditions
Sometimes, productivity is hindered by a work environment that stifles initiative or otherwise frustrates people and keeps them from doing their best. Generally speaking, employees respond favorably to a workplace that has ample light and little clutter.
Take a look at your workplace through the eyes of a stranger. Does it appear organized or disorganized? Are supplies neatly stored away or is the workplace littered with poorly organized, discarded, or rarely used equipment? Remember, as CEOWORLD notes, “An unorganized office equals unorganized minds and decluttering is the first step to creating an environment that inspires your team rather than distracting them.”
Be precise and positive with your feedback
Dedicated employees are drawn to a forceful, articulate, and supportive leader. It’s up to you and your managers to be crystal clear in your instructions and expectations of the team. Most employees want to know when they’re on the right track with their job and also want to be informed—in a non-punitive manner—when they fall short of the company’s objectives.
Productive feedback should be timely and positive in nature. Your best performers don’t need to be criticized for trivial mistakes, so avoid taking up time to address minor problems. Instead, if a major obstacle to productivity exists, invite your employees to brainstorm a creative solution. Collaborative feedback is a highly effective tool for getting people more engaged with your work and learning from their missteps.
Engage team members in strategic decision-making
The traditional top-bottom hierarchy of organizations can prove an impediment to peak productivity and performance. Remember that many of your employees have a unique—and informed—perspective on business operations. Some of them might have more first-hand contact with customers than you do. As a result, they are likely to have valuable insights into problem-solving and strategic thinking.
Encourage your smartest team members to share ideas on improving work processes and company culture. Don’t hesitate to implement the best ideas offered. When employees see their ideas being taken seriously, they often become charged with fresh motivation to stay with the organization and “up the ante” on productivity and performance.
Help team members gain a functioning work/life balance
Attempting to work your team around-the-clock often backfires—leading to less, rather than greater productivity. Chances are, your top performers’ goals include finding a healthy balance between their professional obligations and personal lives. They also want to work for an employer that values this priority.
Are there other concrete steps an employer can take to boost health and fitness in the workplace, and beyond? Look into providing free or low-cost membership in a nearby gym or fitness center. Provide employee assistance programs that address stress management and employee burnout. Do all you can to prevent your high-performing team from succumbing to exhaustion, overwork and a corresponding drop in motivation and engagement.
Reward individual and team achievement
Your best employees aren’t just in it for the paycheck. They believe in what your business wants to accomplish, which is why they work so hard and stay involved in its direction.
In order to maintain this mindset, it’s vitally important to recognize and reward both individuals and teams for meeting (and/or exceeding) expectations. Recognition comes in many forms, such as employee-of-the-month honors, a coveted parking space, performance-related bonuses, etc. In addition to offering these productivity-based perks, publicly acknowledge the work of key individuals and teams through your company newsletter, a message from the CEO, and so on. People respond in a highly favorable manner when they feel their work is valued and appreciated.
Focus on collaboration
Top-notch employees often feel competitive with one another, each striving to outdo their co-workers. That’s a plus for your business, but only up to a point. Too much competition—especially if leadership ignores or fails to address it—can lead to discord and disruption to business operations.
By contrast, a collaborative team can work wonders. People are drawn to working in teams that are doing great work, and where the sum of the parts results in greater achievement than any one person can do on his or her own.
When putting together teams to address specific issues, make collaboration a key element in your guidelines to the team. Emphasize how much your company values team members working towards an agreed-upon goal. Be sure to offer all the tools and resources the team needs to get the job done and lead by example. At every opportunity, show employees how you—the CEO or business owner—likes working with others at the senior management level to get work done.
The greatest asset any business has is its workforce. When employees are treated with dignity and respect, supported with the right tools and resources, and recognized for their achievements, there’s really no limit to what they can achieve.