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5 Top Tips to improve your team’s productivity

7th April 2015

If you read Robert Peston’s article on 1st April on BBC online, you may have thought it was an April fool! Well, it’s wasn’t and it’s not! The UK’s levels of productivity are still very, very low. A big contributor to the absence of any growth at all in output per worker and output per hour is that employment has grown much faster than national income: unemployment rose proportionately less in the downturn than in previous recessions, and new jobs have been created faster than the growth in output.

As a result, sorting out the UK’s flagging levels of productivity affects EVERYONE on some way. The absence of productivity growth ultimately undermines the ability of British firms to increase people’s pay packets. And unless we can improve productivity, none of us will be able to afford the living standards we feel we deserve.

And with the General Election round the corner, it appears that the parties need to have a recovery strategy in place to recover productivity and so bring the Government’s huge deficit down to a more affordable level.

But on a more day-to-day level, how can you improve your team’s productivity in the workplace?

I like to think of it like this: “Team productivity is like a fire. You can’t make it burn, but you can light it and fan the flames.”

One person can produce two or three times the results in the same time frame.

But even if you and your team are highly productive, there’s always room for improvement. Here are 5 Top Tips on how to make it happen:-

  1. Remove email discussions

If you’re discussing important points back and forth via email, it’s a warning sign that you need to change your communication process.

Email is NOT effective for back and forth communications because:-

  • It results in messy discussions that are hard to follow
  • Discussions can’t be organised effectively. Categorising, sharing and searching through past emails is difficult
  • It slows down communication (an email conversation might take days due to the delay between conversations – and might just take minutes on the phone or in person).

One alternative to email is to schedule a meeting once a week to cover all of these complex issues.

  1. Standardise procedures

Find yourself explaining some things twice?

Procedures aren’t just for training – they can be for any activity in your business that you do over and over.

Many businesses rely on informal or ad hoc processes which are stored only I n the brains of staff members, not written down. However, you’ll not get the benefits of systems and procedures until you write them down.

Creating written procedures really helps to identify where there are weaknesses in your current business activities.

You can’t see the problems unless you first standardise how to you do everything. Then you can identify problem areas and gradually improve each procedure over time.

  1. Simplify procedures

Once you’ve documented your systems and procedures, the next step is to simplify them and make them easier to follow.

  • Is there any procedure you’re following that’s unnecessary?
  • Is there anything you’re doing that’s outdated? (“The way we do it round here” syndrome?).

For example, are you spending time emailing documents from one person to another? Or is someone in your team copying information from one spreadsheet into another spreadsheet? Are you filing multiple copies of the same document?

These are simple examples of inefficient activities that can be eliminated with an improved process.

Look to see what steps you can replace with technology and automation. This might be a process that you are currently handling.

  1. Focus, focus, focus

Its human nature for your team to get excited about new projects and let the older ones slide a little.

But it’s tough to get things done that way.

Don’t let that sexy new project get in the way of older ones, if you can help it.

As a team leader, it’s your job to protect your people from ‘new projectitis’

In the long run, you will get it all done, only faster!

  1. Plan your day/week

Every day/week set out exactly what your team needs to accomplish – clarify your expectations.

Without this, your people will simply get caught  up in ‘busy-ness’ – doing whatever they think is best  and not necessarily the most important things.

Parkinson’s Law: Work expands to fill the time available for its completion!

So make sure everyone has their own goals and plan that they are committed to accomplishing.

It’s best to do this at the end of the day/week before so each team member can arrive and ‘hit the ground running’ with a clear idea of what has to be done.

 

Want to read the rest of the Top Tips on Improving Team Productivity?

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