Setting expectations for productivity

I have five questions for you to consider:

  1. Are your employees spending time doing busy work rather than focusing on helping you improve the company’s financial health and profitability?
  2. Are your employees aware of what you expect from them?
  3. Are you certain of what you expect from your employees?
  4. Are new hires educated as to how their activities impact the company as a whole?
  5. Are new hires educated as to why job functions must be performed a certain way?

It’s rare that a new hire walks in the door questioning the process used to perform their daily tasks.  Instructions are given as to how to perform the tasks of the job, and the employee follows those instructions regardless of any imperfections in the process.  If an employee has been hired to analyze the financial health of the organization, but spends the majority of her time gathering and compiling information, are you getting the most value possible?  Or are there ways to make her job more efficient, and increase the value she can add to the organization?

Awareness that there is a problem is the first step to correcting the problem. If you fail to set expectations for automation and efficiency in the workplace, your staff will continue to do things the way they have always done them.  Making people aware of the idea of working smarter rather than harder empowers them to improve the way they do things.

One way to create an atmosphere of efficiency, teamwork, and empowerment is to give your staff permission to improve their work environment and improve the efficiency of tasks they perform.  Changes and improvements can range from re-positioning equipment to automation of data gathering and reporting activities.

Far too often the method by which work gets done is dictated by either the person who previously performed the task or by the belief that since it has always been done this way, there must not be a better way. Rarely is the method of performing a task evaluated for accuracy, completeness, and efficiency.  What we end up with is an employee performing a task with no concept as to why they are doing it that way.

Take simple steps to increase productivity

  1. Bring your team together on a regular basis to discuss how work is being performed and how productivity in the workplace can be improved.  (Identification of tasks that take an inordinate amount of time on a recurring basis is a great place to start!)
  2. Make your employees aware of how the activities they perform affect the company.
  3. Teach your employees to identify busy work and redundant activities.
  4. Encourage your employees to suggest improvements to problem areas.

In some instances you will find an unwillingness to participate in the automation of recurring busy work. If the staff  believes that by automating their daily tasks they will become expendable, cooperation could be difficult to come by.  Get in front of this potential problem by sharing with them what the plans are moving forward, and how their new responsibilities will benefit the company.

Empower your people to control their own destiny. Provide them with the tools, skills, and training they need to be successful, and involve them every day in the strengthening of the organization. Freedom to determine how work gets done is a great motivator, and new knowledge, skills, and tools instill confidence. Rather than viewing your staff as a means to an end, put them in a position to become your largest assets.