• Jeff Barkun

6 Tips to Improve Productivity in the Workplace

No matter how large or small the business you operate or work in, productivity will impact how successful you will be. Before helping you understand how to improve your productivity, I want to quickly clarify what productivity is not. It is not about working harder, or longer hours or increasing someone's responsibilities without increasing their pay. Productivity is a widely misunderstood metric, so I want to help everyone understand exactly what it is. Once you do, not only will you stop fearing this discussion, you will actually getting excited and love talking about it.

Very simply put, your productivity is how much work product you can complete in a fixed amount of time with the resources at your disposal. If you want to increase output, you need to change something in that collection of resources and how they are used within that fixed time period.

I know what you are now thinking; this sounds all good and fancy but what does it actually mean and how do we actually go about doing something to increase productivity. Great question.

1 - Evaluate worker competency with existing tools

Having all of the fanciest tools in the world is useless if your people do not know how to use them. When I am talking about this, I am referring to mastery, not a basic understanding of the tool. Every person should have a deep comprehension of how the tool works, what it is for, and how to squeeze every last ounce of value out of it. I can almost guarantee you that some of your people have knowledge gaps here. Identifying them and closing them with training will provide immediate productivity gains.

2 - Evaluate worker competency around existing processes

Do all of your people fully understand all of your processes as well as how to deal with exceptional scenarios, or are you spending your day fielding repeated questions about how to do this or that. I am guessing many of you are in the second situation. This suggests your people may not fully understand your internal processes. If that is the case, review them in depth to identify knowledge gaps and close them with training. Just like with knowledge gaps around tool competency, you should see some immediate productivity gains here.

3 - Provide additional training

Never just throw an employee out into the water hoping they will swim. You need to train them to complete the job as you want it completed. Of course, they need to be free somewhat to be themselves, but they must first be taught the foundational aspects of their job so they will be confident enough to show up and show out. If you haven't done this, it will undoubtedly reap rewards when someone become generally better at doing their job.

4 - Document and revise processes

If you haven't written down your processes, chances are you may not realize how clunky, confusing or inefficient they might be. Further, if they are stored in your head, other people may struggle to accurately and consistently execute them in the way you or the company envisions as it may be crystal clear to you, but convoluted and confusing to others. So start by writing them down so you can see all the steps. This will be an eye opening experience and you will probably find opportunities to modify them for the better. At Barkun Consulting, we have templates to help make this easy.

5 - Improve Tools, Equipment and other resources

The tools you use are heavily intertwined with the processes you have and how you operate. Once you have documented your processes, you should review how, or if, your various resources support efficient execution. Chances are there is a significant opportunity here. For example, if your computers are slow to load and you do a lot of work on them, get faster ones. If you find yourself constantly toggling between applications on your computers, get an extra monitor, or two; and you can read my other blog post about how this can dramatically increase productivity. Computer hardware and web applications are an easy one to talk about, and I can do that until the cows come home, but really this can be anything you use in your business and should be rigorously reviewed. If you do it right, you will find insights about how to improve you may never otherwise would have thought of.

6 - Create a Positive Environment

You cannot expect great results to come from a poor environment. Ensure that workplace conditions are beyond satisfactory, use positive reinforcement to motivate people and reward them appropriately. Happy and engaged employees who perceive they are properly compensated will be more productive than unhappy and disengaged ones.

I hope these ideas will point you in the right direction and get you some quick wins in the productivity sphere. If you are still unsure about how to do it, or simply do not have the time to figure this out, contact Barkun Consulting today.

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