3 Great Ways to Improve Staff Productivity

By Michael Overell - Aug. 21, 2012
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improving staff productivity, team productivity, staff efficiencyIs your team productive? It’s one thing if morale is high. But are they really performing at an optimum level?

While everyone works at a different speed and level of efficiency, there are some basic things you can do to increase your overall team productivity.

1. Technology – Only part of the solution

There are some great technological aids available for improving team productivity. These include:

  • Google Docs – allows several people to work in the same web-based document at the same time.
  • Trello – collaborative task and workflow management. It’s really visual, and one of our favourites in the office.
  • BetterSnapTool – an app that allows you to have multiple screens open at the same time on your computer.
  • Timesnapper – recovery software that takes continuous background screenshots of your work, in case you lose it without saving.
  • Dragon NaturallySpeaking – dictation software that types as fast as you can talk.
  • Focus Me – distraction blocking software that denies user access to pre-defined websites.
  • Work Time – time tracking software that tracks computer activities and the amount of time spent on each activity.

Weird and wonderful new productivity apps and software are being developed every day, but technology is only part of the answer to getting the most out of your team.

2. Leadership

Another way to increase productivity is to make it part of your team culture. Set targets for the team and for individuals and make your expectations clear from the outset.

Reward the attainment of goals and keep setting the bar slightly higher each time, remembering not to make goals unrealistic or unattainable. Communicate daily with your team members and constantly reinforce the message of working together towards those common goals.

Rather than giving them meaningless tasks to perform, give your team more responsibility and allow them to take ownership of each project. They will work harder because they are working for themselves and will be more productive than you could ever force them to be.

Above all, lead by example. If you always arrive late in the morning and never accomplish tasks on time, you can’t expect your team members to do so either. You should be a shining example of efficiency, always giving 110% and always passing on the secrets of your productivity to your team.

Of course, a team can only be as productive as the tools they have at their disposal. If your team is working with twenty-year-old technology, then an upgrade to the latest and fastest will pay for itself with a noticeable improvement in productivity.

And remember to give your team plenty of breaks away from the coal face. It might sound counter-productive, but having frequent rests from intensive work ensures they come back refreshed and ready to refocus on the task at hand.

3. Psychology

There are a number of psychological buttons you can push to motivate your team to greater productivity. These include:

  • Recognition – it is human nature to want to be recognised when we do something above and beyond, so encourage that need by publicly acknowledging and applauding those team members who are more productive. This should spur them on to new heights and also encourage others to be more productive.
  • Reward – there’s no better incentive for productivity than knowing a reward lies at the end and there’s no better reward for most people than extra money in their pay packet. Modest bonuses for achieving major targets will always increase team productivity.
  • Collaboration – high productivity requires solid team work, so encourage a collaborative environment at all times. Seat your team all in the same area so that ideas and information can be shared freely. Use collaborative tools such as Google Docs and Jabber and encourage input from every team member.
  • Job satisfaction – someone who is happy in their role is productive by default. Creating a working environment where team members feel appreciated, worthwhile and contributing towards something bigger than themselves will not only improve productivity but staff retention rates as well.
  • Ambition – employees who know that if they work hard and do a good job they will be promoted are more productive than those who see little recognition for their efforts from management. If you have a policy of promoting from within and provide further training opportunities for your staff, they will be much more productive than otherwise.
  • Trust – if you trust your team to do the right thing, they are far more likely to reward that trust with increased productivity. Rather than tracking their time and restricting their access, give them more responsibility and let them know you are counting on them.
  • Confirmation – everyone needs feedback to know they are on the right track and if you give your team regular positive feedback, individually and as a group, they will appreciate you for it and respond with higher productivity. Encouraging feedback from them in return may also give you valuable insights into areas that might be affecting productivity, which you can then put to rights.


Michael Overell

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