When there’s a lot of work to complete, business leaders often assume that it’s necessary to hire more people. However, it’s often possible for managers to get more work out of existing staff by helping them become more efficient. As Salesforce.com observed, “improving sales productivity is an organizational goal that is truly never done.” Here’s how.
Help Employees Structure Their Day Better
Learning to prioritize and delegate is important, but these skills won’t come without effective time management skills in the first place. Managers should consider sitting down with each of their direct reports and asking them how they normally structure their day. It might surprise them to learn that some use an Outlook calendar or simple pen and paper to plan their day while others seem to wing it.
Requiring employees to create and prioritize a daily task list can go a long way towards improving overall productivity. Managers can make it easier for employees new to the process by having them run their daily schedule by them every day for a week and provide feedback on how to improve it.
Implement the Two-Minute Rule
Answering emails, responding to meeting requests, and other common tasks can quickly stockpile when employees don’t stay on top of them. One especially helpful technique to teach employees is to complete any task that would require less than two minutes of their time right away. Employees might feel shocked at what a difference this can make.
Take Breaks to Maintain Productivity
Some managers have the mistaken idea that increasing productivity means employees should stay at their desk all day, taking little time to eat lunch or even use the bathroom. This is a sure recipe for burnout and decreased rather than increased productivity. A short break away from the desk can help people feel more focused and energized when they do return to work. Implementing a break schedule and insisting that employees follow it can work wonders.
Skip as Many Meetings as Possible
Some employees spend more time in meetings each day than they do complete actual tasks. Managers should consider whether an employee truly needs to attend a meeting or if he or she could pick up the information just as easily via email or a quick coaching session. People who schedule meetings often should also ask themselves how necessary they really are to achieve the desired business outcome.
Social media, smartphones, unnecessary meetings and phone calls, and noise from adjoining areas can all make it difficult for people to concentrate on their job. Blocking social media on company computers and requiring employees to reserve smartphone use for break times can help. It’s also incumbent upon managers to eliminate other distractions to the best of their ability.
Reduce Paperwork Requirements
Filling out and delivering paperwork to the right party can consume a lot of time in any job. This is especially true of sales. Managers should find out how much time their direct reports spend on paperwork each day and then help them reduce it. Some possibilities include delegating paperwork to clerical staff, teaching staff several shortcuts for completing it and eliminating all unnecessary paperwork entirely.
Increasing productivity is not as hard as many people assume. It often comes down to a willingness to think outside the box to find more efficient ways of doing things.