Running a small business is like running a marathon. While short sprints could place you before your competitors for a little while, they can also drain your supplies of energy. To win, you need to move at a speed that is consistent t
hroughout the race. This means two things:
1. Pacing yourself (or your team) so as to prevent burnout
2. Taking on each mile as it’s the only one you’ll run
The efficiency with which your team takes care of business is quite similar. While you can easily find productivity tips on any business-related blog, not many will tell you that the key to being effective lies in your managerial skills.
Leading a successful company isn’t just about working harder or being more innovative than your competitors. It’s about knowing how to manage your employees (and yourself) in a way that facilitates success.
Of course, there are many approaches you could take. After all, no two companies are alike. But, there are some universal techniques that you can try out for yourself if you want to increase productivity by implementing efficient management practices.
Assembling Your Team
Making sure that your team’s productivity is through the roof starts well before the first day at the office. Experienced business leaders know that the efficiency with which things are done greatly depends on bringing in the right talent. And talent doesn’t always have to mean someone with the most experience or with the fanciest diploma. More often than not, a good hire is about finding the person who is the right fit for you.
Nowadays, it’s much easier to acquire talent. Not only is remote work becoming increasingly popular (and there’s plenty of research to show that it offers a huge boost in terms of productivity), but you can even outsource a number of tasks to efficient professionals. What this means is that you could potentially hire from absolutely anywhere in the world, without being constricted by location.
One way to make sure you’re assembling the best possible team is to put together a list of the core values you want to nurture in your company. These will determine your company culture, and thus define the relationships, roles, and work dynamics within your group of employees. It’s quite important that your list is clearly defined, as well as that you know what you don’t want to encourage (tardiness, lack of teamwork, a negative approach to tasks, etc.).
quite important that your list is clearly defined, as well as that you know what you don’t want to encourage (tardiness, lack of teamwork, a negative approach to tasks, etc.).
How Company Culture Increases Productivity
Once you’ve decided on the core values you want your business to uphold, and have put together a team of people whose values align with your own, it’s time to look at the ways you can build a company culture that benefits productivity.
Recent research found that monetary compensation isn’t the only thing young people want out of their job. Millennials are, instead, also looking for learning and growth opportunities, as well as a place where their work will be valued and appreciated. So what does this mean for you as a manager and leader?
Well, it means that you should consider all the ways in which you can make your workers more satisfied. Ultimately, a person who is happy with their job will be more likely to put in a greater effort, which, in turn, positively reflects on your bottom line.
Consider small adjustments: allowing remote work once or twice a week, creating opportunities for team building, and encouraging innovation, collaboration, and incentive. Finally, don’t forget about the power of positive reinforcement.
Providing the Right Tools
Being a superb manager isn’t all about relationships (although, it does require you to be exceptionally good with people). Unsurprisingly, great managers are also those who are ready to take on the role of a mentor and leader.
While you may not have the resources to teach absolutely everything to your employees (and hopefully, they’ll already have the necessary skills once they start working for you), you can make their daily tasks easier for them by sharing your knowledge and experience. In some cases, this will mean transferring to them your know-how, but in others, just providing them with the right tools is a great step in the right direction.
Although technology in the workplace can be overwhelming, it can make a pretty significant contribution to productivity when used in the right way. Don’t be afraid to try out new solutions – while not all of them may work for you in particular, you might just find that they shorten the amount of time it takes for you or your workers to finish up a task.
On the whole, tech tools can be divided into a few categories:
2. Project management
Communication tools are the ones you probably already use. Email, Skype, or a business chat app such as Slack, all help remove barriers and allow your team to share information, ideas, and inspiration in an efficient manner. When used to their fullest potential, they can dramatically decrease the amount of time wasted during work hours.
Project management tools are slightly more versatile. From basic apps that you already have on your phone, such as your calendar or notes, to advanced systems such as Trello or Asana, they can be adapted to work in the best way possible for you. Most of these create a digital space for you and your employees to collaborate in and offer functionalities such as file sharing, progress updates, feedback opportunities, etc. They are especially handy for businesses that deal with time-sensitive matters, or those developing new products.
Finally, you should try to identify tasks that can be automated. This will not only free up your personal schedule but will create fewer distractions for your employees as well. Automation tools like TimeTackle can make invoicing easier, while WhosOff makes planning staff holidays, days off, or even tracking overtime an automatic process, saving you precious hours or days in the long run.
Encouraging Creativity and Cooperation
One of the ways to increase productivity in your company is to encourage creativity and collaboration. Regardless of whether you decide to gamify the work/production process (which is proving to be an excellent motivator), or just to show your team that you appreciate it when they work towards finding great solutions together, it’s your job to create opportunities for this type of cooperation.
There are numerous ways you can do this: from traditional brainstorming sessions to exciting team building events to a weekly lunch where everyone sits down together and shares ideas. Those with a little bit more freedom on their hands can even try venturing to a new location to hold a meeting (such as a café or outdoor space) or can encourage personal side-projects for employees to pursue.
The benefits of a laid back-approach mostly lie in the fact that it reduces stress and gives employees something to look forward to at work (usually a personal project they’re passionate about). So, why not use this to your own advantage?
The Recipe for Success
Small businesses are at a huge advantage over bigger companies when it comes to facilitating effectiveness and productivity. After all, smaller groups of people who share the same values will be more likely to put in the necessary work to achieve the wanted results. Still, as the owner and manager, it is your job to introduce and encourage positive practices that will result in the desired outcome. Even if there’s only a couple of people you currently employ (or even if it’s just you).
But, it is important to remember that, for the most part, productivity isn’t just about the number of hours put in. More importantly, it is about motivation, growth, high-quality work, and the utilization of the right tools and techniques to achieve success.
Sarah Kaminski is a freelance writer and social media marketer. She works with a number of small businesses to build their brands through more engaging marketing and content.