The success of any company or business rest largely on those who are employed in the business. These workers determine how far the business or company goes in meeting its goals. No matter how talented or hardworking a leader or manager is, he will still require an effective team to meet his goals and objectives. This implies that building an effective team is the most important asset for your business or whatever you are building as far as workforce productivity is concerned. Leaders sometimes seem to think if they are competent in their managerial roles, they can get everything done no matter who works under them. Such leaders have little understanding on how to improve productivity. But the effectiveness of a leader or manager is dependent on the effectiveness of his team members and vice versa. Now let’s look at what it takes to build an effective team and the different ways to improve productivity in the work place.
Start making important decisions from your hiring phase
If your choices in hiring people are lame, you would either have to fire the workers you brought in or invest in them to make them better and more productive. Certificates are hardly sufficient when it comes to making choices that will guarantee an effective work team. This consideration of course is for those who are yet to employ workers or to add to those they already have.
One of the most important decisions when it comes to job interviews is not what certificates do you have? or what job experience do you have? but simply what can you do for us?. A person who is going to be effective and productive to your team is the one who has very clear understanding of what their job is, knows what will be expected of them and is confident about the results he or she can produce.
If you can find such a person, someone who answers that question (what can you do?) right, then you can move on to considering certificates and job experience.
Your decision to hire any particular worker should be based on the purpose of your business, company or corporation. Hiring workers who are not just qualified but also passionate about the team’s goals and purposes is an assurance that they are going to put in whatever will be required to ensure workforce productivity. These type of people are open to changes and will readily play their part with regards to the following points. So if you have to make plans to hire, make sure your plans will ensure that you get the right people for the job.
Appreciate and Value each worker’s idea and opinion
As far as productivity in the workplace and building a more productive team are concerned, appreciating the idea of each worker is vital. It is a necessary way to increase employee productivity. Workers will be more effective and interested in following up on decisions and instructions made by managers or leaders of their team if they actually take part in making those decisions. Bringing workers who are concerned with any particular decision together to take part in the process of making those decisions, especially when they are major decisions also go a long way to communicate to those workers that you have confidence in them. Such confidential moves from leaders triggers hard work and ensures productivity.
Appreciating the value of workers is not just about bringing them in to participate in decision making. There are other significant actions a leader can take to instill value in their workers which are also important ways to improve productivity in the work place. One of such things that could be done to appreciate value for the ideas and opinion of workers is to assure them that their ideas will be implemented if it is worth it and when it is implemented, the particular employer can be appreciated in one way or the other.
In such settings, there are usually people who may not feel comfortable expressing themselves at a team meeting or brainstorming session. For these people, and to show how much you value their ideas, you can put in place other means by which they can send in their opinion and notify them when those opinions are implemented. Suggestions could be sent through mail or taken in suggestion boxes. This kind of confidential move to getting ideas and opinions from workers could serve as a means to keep superiors worker from prejudices against junior employees.
Understand and strive towards effective communication
One of the most effective ways to improve productivity of workers in any setting is strive towards more effective communication. When information is not effectively passed across, it is difficult for workers to meet their goals. Managers and leaders have to put in place an effective communication strategy for the team. Effective communication implies that information sent is understood and feedback sent to confirm receptions and understanding of that information. There are different communication strategies but the use of one will be determined by the team set up. So long as the leader is able to establish an effective communication plan he or she will find it easy to increase employee productivity.
Encourage and facilitate cooperation between employees
Workers who cooperate are definitely more productive than those who don’t. In every team there must be a system put in place to ensure and facilitate cooperation between workers for workforce productivity. There are different ways to go about this. One is to organize brainstorming session. These sessions which bring workers together to contribute ideas that will help them function better is a good way to allow workers learn where their individual lapses have been and for them to know what they need to do to make things right.
A team of workers is usually so connected that one worker’s effectiveness is closely tied to the effectiveness of another. Let’s take the example of a book printing and publishing house. There may be someone responsible for the layout and design and another responsible for the actual printing. Some other person will be in charge of binding and so on. Now this particular process is so interwoven that if one person makes a mistake or is ineffective in their areas of work, there is going to be a serious delay and setback in the entire process.
The manager or leader of such a firm could arrange meeting sessions before each production or connect different departments within the printing firm through telephone so that workers can instantly get to each other for rectification or update of plans.
Another way to encourage and facilitate cooperation between employees is to make a clear distinction of hierarchy. Workers cannot be productive if they do not understand hierarchy. Communication should not just flow without a pattern. It is necessary that each worker knows who to report or give feedback to concerning any given issue. When this happens, uncertainties will definitely be eliminated from the chain and productivity will be ensured.
Encourage and facilitate goal setting
The team you lead or manage must have set goals if it is going to be effective. Goals guide decision making on a general and personal level. They also make priorities clear. Understanding the significance of goal setting helps you understand how to best improve productivity in your team. A team that works towards achieving certain goals will surely be more effective than the team which has no clear goals they strive to attain. These goals have to be as specific as possible. As such, each set of goals should have a clear process for accomplishment as well as a deadline. Goals have to be set on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. When goal attainment is tied to a specific time frame, evaluation is easier to do.
As you encourage goal setting and attainment for the team as a leader, your workers will get to experience firsthand how important it is that they make plans towards goal attainment and better still, they will more easily take up the attitude of setting goals for themselves.
One other way to encourage goal setting that ensures workforce productivity within an organization is to give and remind workers about daily task and to do that timely. Before the close of each working day, let workers know what the task for the next day is so that they can make personal plans to attain their objectives before the next day.
So just like the leader sets daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals for the entire team, workers should be encouraged to do same on a personal level.
Don’t end at setting goals, make the process of goal attainment clear enough for the team
Setting goals is not enough. You ought to make specific plans to meet those goal. If your team of workers are going to be successful and productive with their responsibilities, you will have to ensure that there is a road map for them to follow. Goal attainment is easier when workers do not only know what they have to achieve but how they are going to achieve it.
This is what parents do for their children. They tell them, we have to do this or that and at this particular time. That is the goal. But children are always eager to know how it is going to happen. Telling a child what he or she should do without at least making the process easier is one way to cause confusion.
We do expect our workers to be competent enough to understand exactly what is expected of them and also how to go about it. After all that is what proves their competence. On the other hand, you cannot always work with your employees on the assumption that they know exactly how their goals will be achieved. In the process of setting goals, give some clarity on the “how” part of it. Make available whatever will be required to increase employee productivity and ensure goal attainment with maximum productivity.
Set rules and make them clear
We need rules whenever people come together and especially when they are set to attain particular objectives. Everyone cannot just go about their duty however they want to. Rules are important as far as setting boundaries are concerned. Workers need to be clear about respect for hierarchy, promptness at work and meeting deadlines. Rules concerning their relations and interactions with other workers as well as the customers or stakeholders in the business or company have to be made clear. Rules are of course followed by sanctions which should serve as a disciplinary measure.
As such each worker within your team must be fully aware of the rules and sanctions. This will help them keep within certain behavior and attitudes which promote productivity for the entire team.
Make use of brainstorming sessions
Within each employee are potentials that need to be exploited. Potentials in terms of ideas and abilities. Usually people are employed with respect to their actual manifest ability rather than their potential ability. So we have many people employed for companies with abilities and ideas that could take those companies to the next level. But because they are not provided the opportunity to brainstorm and bring out their capacities and abilities, these workers never really make much impact.
Organizing brain storming sessions for your team should not be in the face of a problem or in an effort to solve one. You must teach the workers in your team to be proactive and one very effective way to do that is by helping them think through problems before they occur. Assume that the team is faced with a particular problem and let each worker come up with proposed solutions or ways to deal with the problem.
Again, brainstorming sessions are not all about problem solving. They are necessary for coming up with the best ways of going about particular tasks and achieving set goals. It helps build the bond and unity between workers which is required to increase employee productivity through better teamwork.
Take advantage of the importance of incentives
One of the best ways to improve productivity in the work place is to give encouragement. Understanding the power of incentives will help leaders and team managers better figure out how to improve productivity of their workers. Though it costs nothing to encourage your workers with a kind word or appreciation, it is more effective than most of the expensive rewards you may want to give. There is such power in encouraging your workers that if you will commit to it, they will be more productive than you could imagine. People generally crave appreciation and there are many ways to show appreciation.
Before we get into the different ways to show appreciation, it is important that we compare this to condemnation. For every leader, there are two ways to correct those under you. One is to point to the wrong they have done and condemn, the other is to point to the right thing they should have done and encourage. Practice encouragement rather than condemnation especially when the worker is fully aware of their mistakes and is sorry about it.
In Dale Carnegie’s classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People, he recounts an interesting story with a lesson that will definitely be advantageous to our understanding of how important it is to encourage in certain situations rather than condemn. A Pilot took off from the Airport with a full plane only to later realize that the aircraft had a serious problem which could have cost the life of those on board and the destruction of a very expensive airplane. He struggled and successfully brought the airplane to land safely at the port from which it took off. Upon examination, it was found that the engineer who was in charge of fueling the plane had made mistakenly done so with a different kind of fuel.
As the angry pilot walked up to the devastated engineer, he said to him; to tell you that I am sure you will never do this again, I want you to fuel my jet and prepare it for takeoff. Now I can hardly think of a better way to ensure that the pilot never made the same mistake again (of course apart from firing him and keeping him from that job for the rest of his life).
Give your workers material rewards for accomplishing specific tasks or when they go beyond what is expected of them. When workers know that extra or hard work will pay off, they will be more willing to put in more time and energy to it. Giving gifts is another important incentives and one of the most effective ways to improve productivity in the work place.
Then again you have to ensure that the conditions under which your workers do what is expected of them is updated and comfortable enough to enable better productivity. The better the working conditions of your team, the more productive they are going to be.
Lastly, promotions and advancements in salary for productive and effective workers is a very important incentive. Create a rewards system based on promotions or at least advancement in salaries that is dependent on the productivity or effectiveness of worker in carrying out their given tasks. This will encourage slow workers to put in whatever effort is necessary to meet up with their colleagues.
Payment Method can also be an effective tool
There are different ways to determine how much workers will be paid. But the real issue is how to improve productivity of your workers through your choice of payment method. It could be based on the amount of time spent at work, or otherwise on the quality or output of work done. The most popular these days is actually the least effective when it comes to workforce productivity and building a more effective team of workers. That is the payment method based on fixed monthly salaries.
Unless you find a way to encourage your workers to do more, like rewarding extra work, fixed salaries are not good for encouraging productivity in the work place. The best for this purpose is letting workers determine how much they are going to be paid either by how much time they put into the work or how much work they do. The former can be used if the quality of work will hardly be affected. For example, those who park goods in a warehouse can be paid based the amount of time they spend working or the amount of work done.
Keep reminding your team of what the priorities are
Every effective team must have priorities. Some things are simply more important than others. Usually workers have a set of goals to reach, but those goals are not equally important. Consequently, their plans and goals have to be made with respect to priority. This also means each individual goal and objective must be in accordance with the team’s priorities. This is necessary to ensuring that the main thing remains the main thing. It is a great way to ensure increase employee productivity.
Be an inspirational figure to the team
Finally, it is your responsibility as the leader or manager of your team to ensure that your team of workers are inspired to put in their best at all times. No lazy, ineffective or unproductive person should expect to lead others into productivity and effectiveness. You have to understand how to improve productivity in your workers through inspiration. The most significant way of inspiring your team is by your actions. Then words can follow. Let them see seriousness of purpose in you and they will definitely copy it. show them the importance of planning and goal setting by making personal goals and plans and achieving them.
At the end of the day, your team is looking up to you to navigate the boat you all are in to a place of effectiveness and productivity. Make the above mentioned points count by wisely putting every one of them into practice. It may take a while but you are definitely going to have a more productive and effective team of workers.