If you are interested in building a strong culture you should be interested in ways to help your employees be more productive. If you have hired the right people then they want to perform for you. They want to be productive and have increased job satisfaction. They want to feel like they are on your team, and be part of something great. Here are 5 ways to help your employees be more productive:
Help Them Work Through Imposter Syndrome
This link is specifically for nurses facing imposter syndrome but you can talk to almost any professional and they’ll tell you about when they suffered through it. I tell my new hires that I expect them to work through two things: a learning curve and imposter syndrome. They might do that at the same time or they might be different, it doesn’t matter. Both are highly distracting and get in the way of their ability to perform at their highest level.
I tell new team members I expect them to work through these for about six months. Not that I want to lose six months of productivity but I know this doesn’t work itself out in a few days. I want to ensure they know that I know it will be frustrating and distracting, that I want to talk about it with them if they want to, and to be patient with themselves. I think this is a critical message for new hires.
Will every new hire take six months to work through these issues? No. Some will be faster, some will be slower, but you are setting an expectation of productivity, patience, and communication. When they aren’t stressed that you are going to fire them when they work through imposter syndrome they can focus on getting through it faster.
Continually Make Your Expectations Explicitly Clear
One of the most important ways you can help your employees be more productive is to have clear expectations that you continually communicate to your team. Have you ever worked in an organization where what was expected of you was a moving target? It’s frustrating!
I’m not saying you can’t have expectations change. In many environments they will naturally change. This can easily be managed with good, healthy communication. The key is that you don’t have your employees wondering if what they are working on will be unappreciated tomorrow. When they know what you care about, and how they are measured, they can work towards success.
This means you need to spend time with other leaders to ensure you have defined what your expectations are. Reward your team as they hit milestones big and small. Even reward them for effort into a project that had to pivot. Sometimes you reward for outcomes, other times you reward for effort.
As you understand your expectations, and communicate that to your team, you’ll be on the same page and everyone should be working on the right things. Mess up either variable here (having the right expectations or having bad communication) can mean no one is productive, even if they appear to be busy.
Have Regular One-on-ones
In this post I talk about what one-on-ones are and five tips to make them better. One-on-ones are basically a communication tool, and communication is a key element in employee productivity. Too often I’ve talked to people who just don’t know where they stand with their boss. They don’t know if their boss likes them. They don’t know if the work they do matters. They don’t know if they really fit in to their team or organization.
Employees wonder where there boss is at on things like the mission statement (is it real, and talked about, or is it just something you framed and put on the walls in the office but no one really talks about it?). They wonder how the company is doing. Many know they won’t be privy to the financials but they want to know if the company they’ve chosen to work for will be around in a few months, or a few years.
They want a pulse on how the boss is feeling about everything. Are they optimistic about the future? Will things get better? Is this a growing opportunity or is it a sinking ship?
Getting regular time with the boss can help appease many of these questions. Of course, the boss is not likely to say the sky is falling (even if it is), but over time the relationship can shift to being more honest and open. Or, maybe it always was, but the employee will feel the sincerity in a way that wasn’t felt when there was little contact with the boss.
One-on-ones are a great way to help an employee feel like they belong, like they matter, and like they are getting continually updated with information they need to be more productive. They are also a great way, if done well, to reduce rumors and bad assumptions that can be whispered around water coolers and in cafeterias.
Reduce Meetings to Help Your Employees Be More Productive
Everyone knows that some meetings are better handled by just sending an email. There have been memes about this for years. Some iconic leaders have decided to have only stand-up meetings, where you have to stand. The idea is that no one wants to stand for hours, so let’s get our business done quickly and then get back to our work. Others love walking meetings where you don’t meet in an office or conference room, rather you meet strolling around the building, the campus, a park, or whatever.
The whole world got tired of zoom meetings during the pandemic and it seemed like everyone talked about zoom fatigue.
The core issue is that too many meetings are ineffective and useless. It seems like some meetings happen only because they have been regularly scheduled. Sometimes the meetings are just for social purposes (which isn’t a bad purpose, generally). If you want to help your employees be more productive you should seriously analyze the purpose of meetings. Figure out why the meetings happen. Don’t discount a meeting if it is “just for social purposes,” that’s not what I’m saying. But if you do an analysis of your team’s meetings you might find that some meetings are just not needed or valuable anymore. Strike them from the calendar and gift your employees the time back.
Stop Interrupting Them with Special Projects
I once worked with a leader who would come in every day and change the projects his team worked on. He was being agile and responsive. He was listening to customers and prospects. He would stay tuned to the news to know what markets were doing and do his best to read the tea leaves.
His team was exhausted and demoralized. When they really liked a project, and gave it their all, they knew it was always at risk of being discontinued for “something better.” So they stopped liking projects. They stopped giving their all. They just figured they needed to come to work and do what the boss said.
Guess how productive that team was? NOT VERY. Interrupting the flow of work impacted every aspect of that failing business. Things didn’t get done. Important things were always the priority but there was always something more important. People hated it. Interrupting them is not a way to help your employees be more productive.
As a leader you need to make sure you prioritize projects, from a high level, and then let your team see things through. I put blame on the visionaries and strategists (aka, the leaders) when a team gets interrupted and distracted all the time. This shows the leaders have not spent enough serious time figuring out organizational priorities. Even in fast-moving environments you have to make sure you are not giving your employees whiplash by changing priorities all the time.
Don’t give your employees whiplash!
So there’s five ideas to help your employees be more productive. Please take this list back to your leadership team and have a conversation around this topic. As a team, you should be able to figure out what you are doing well and where you have opportunities for improvement. Maybe you’ll determine that none of my points are relevant to you but I hope you can come up with your own five (or more) things to help your employees be more productive.
If you want to chat, get in touch with us here. We love culture, we love productivity, we love employee engagement and job satisfaction. Our entire suite of tools is focused on helping organizations with each of these.