If your business is struggling with productivity, you are certainly not alone. Ultimately increasing productivity and keeping a close eye on it is quite clearly a must for all business, large or small. More output in fewer hours is a simple benefit equation.
You may wish to seek outside support to boost productivity, but where should you begin?
Ask an expert
It’s simple really, isn’t it? If you want to know how to boost productivity, find someone who has done it and ask them how.
Of course, your competitors are unlikely to want to share their insights but many tricks and tips will be relevant across different sectors and industries. People are surprisingly helpful when you reach out, so don’t be shy.
You may wish to ask for fairly informal advice by following up with someone on LinkedIn, Twitter or who is quoted in an interesting article.
For more in-depth insights consider researching via a speaker agency - you’ll likely find a host of people who have something to say about productivity. Allan Leighton, for example, the man who sold ASDA to US retailer Wal-Mart for £6.7 billion, speaks about his experiences.
If you find someone who seems particularly relevant and inspirational you may even want to book them to address your team.
Review your HR arrangements to ensure staff are engaged and supported
Human Resources can often be misjudged to be focused almost exclusively on recruitment, holiday and sickness management and employment law compliance.
In reality, good HR practice within your firm should be as much about maximising the potential of the staff you have, making them feel valued and retaining them.
Doing some reading around HR and perhaps making contact with a strong HR firm will likely throw up lots of ideas around motivating staff and increasing productivity.
Appraisals and back-to-work interviews can be viewed as unnecessary and time consuming if they are not carried out effectively. However, approached well these things can uncover training needs, pressure points and other areas that may be sapping productivity.
Time tracking software - if introduced diplomatically - may allow you to empower your staff to show you where their time is being sucked up into unproductive tasks such as grappling with poor technology or answering calls that are irrelevant to their role.
Seek out new technology
The CBI report ‘from Ostrich to Magpie,’ a study into productivity, concluded that the UK needed more ‘magpie’ firms - those that have the skill and will to find and adopt technologies and management practices proven to lift productivity and pay.
It said: “Low take-up of readily available technologies and management best practices is driving the UK’s productivity problem. While the UK’s best performing firms are highly innovative, best practice must reach a greater range of businesses, improving productivity through the adoption of technologies and ideas that are proven.”
Remember the problem may not be with the staff but the management
All good managers and leaders know that no one person can do it all. Delegation is the key to success.
Good management breeds good productivity within a team so training your managers well can be a vital investment in improving output.
In his YouTube video ‘Five signs you are a micro manager’ leadership author Hanz Finzel tells that 55 per cent of people say they become less productive when they work under a micromanager.
He says to avoid being a micro-manager you should:
● Relax - realise you don’t have to be in on everything and up on everything.
● Offer the flexibility to allow people to do the job their way - there are lots of ways to get a job done, allow people to own a task. They will love it and delight you with better than expected results.
● Be patient - give people time and space to do the job. Don’t hover over them - it communicates lack of trust.
● Don’t smother people with too much information.
Take a little time to consider how you and your managers may be impacting on productivity and how you can support them to have a more positive influence.