For whatever reason, you’ve realized it’s time to push the productivity of your staff to the next level. This can be a grand challenge for your business, or it can crash and burn if not handled (or accepted) well.
Here are a few suggestions to expand productivity without becoming “that” kind of boss:
Give the reason why. Employees can’t rally with you if you expect them to just mechanically follow orders. It won’t have a lasting effect to simply say, “we need to make more sales.” That’s always going to be the case. State why there is a need to increase output, and give a goal and deadline. Then, provide action steps and objectives to reach along the way.
Don’t babysit. Once you have armed your employees with all the necessary information, follow up periodically to make sure everyone is on task and meeting goals. “I had a manager who allowed her employees the autonomy to do the jobs they had been hired to do,” says Jill Ruiter, MBA, Managing Director/Planned Giving at American Diabetes Association. “Initially, a learning curve existed, but over time, autonomy grew and our work was quality and seamless.” Resist micromanaging, but don’t let things slide because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.
It’s important to treat your employees like adults—because they are. If you don’t feel you can trust your staff to complete assigned tasks, perhaps it’s time to evaluate if you have the right people in the right positions. “Set high standards and then give people responsibility to complete the projects assigned to them,” says Dustin Hickle, Marketing Strategist and Director of Social Media at 212 Media Studios. “They get the praise, or they get the consequences.”
Show enthusiasm for the project. “I enjoy when a leader has sincere enthusiasm for the project,” says Ethan Sheckler, Communications Intern at Maple Leaf Farms. “Sometimes, excitement can best demonstrate and convince employees that a project really matters. And that in turn leads to high morale and productivity.”
Avoid demanding perfection. Should you expect quality all the time? Of course! But should you demand perfection to the point that your employees are afraid of your reaction if they make an honest mistake? “I am more productive when I know that my leader is there as a guide should I make mistakes,” says Lindsey Frederick, Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Prison Fellowship International. “If I feel paralyzed to be perfect, I can stall on a project because I am afraid to turn it in for fear it’s never good enough.”
Show appreciation. This is a big one and can go far! Just like you appreciate being appreciated for your efforts, so do your employees. If you’re not giving the occasional “good job” or “cookies in the break room to celebrate five sales this morning,” your staff can feel like they’re shooting at a target while blindfolded. This decreases productivity and increases frustration.
“Guaranteed, I am more productive when I know my leader values me as a person and regularly shows appreciation for me,” says Frederick. “This can include positive feedback, incentives like coffee, lunch, or time off for a job well done. This builds loyalty toward my superior, and I will work as long as necessary to get the job done well.”
Ashley Mazelin, Content Specialist for 212 Media Studios, says “One time when I was feeling discouraged and a bit overwhelmed, my boss wrote me a card saying that I was doing a good job and that he was thankful for my efforts. Included was a gift card to my favorite restaurant. That meant the world to me because it was totally unexpected.”
Showing appreciation can also mean valuing your employees to the point of protecting them. Ruiter adds, “I knew that my manager always had my back. There was such freedom in knowing that my manager would support me at my best and at my worst—and everything in between!”
Encourage the potential you see. Remember that teacher who pulled you aside and said, “I see this strength in you” or that boss who took you under his/her wing and mentored you? Do the same for your employees. “My manager once told me he believed that I was capable of doing more than I was doing at the time,” says Mazelin. “He said he saw leadership abilities in me. It was inspiring to have my capabilities recognized, and it pushed me to keep going.”
Looking for more tips, tricks, and proven techniques? Read these articles posted in the Saltsha Academy:
“Don’t be a Follow-Up Nag”
“6 Ways a Manager Can Keep Employees Happy”
“How to Engage Employees and Improve Results”
“When You Need to Micromanage”
And there’s more in the Business Management category of the Academy as well!