Posts Tagged ‘Jobs’

Increase Productivity through Better Employee Communication

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Even as the economy shows signs of strengthening, many companies haven’t yet seen business rebound. They still need to do more with fewer employees. Perhaps you’re a hiring manager or business owner who is not able to begin hiring—but needs to keep existing employees motivated and more productive.

You might be thinking, “Haven’t I analyzed productivity enough over the last couple of years?” Perhaps you think there is no way to ask for more efficiency from overworked employees. What if you want to give them a break without affecting productivity? And you know you can’t hire more staff just yet. What to do?

Analyze Again

One answer is the one you might not want to hear: start at the top and analyze your business again. Look at your processes and procedures with a fresh eye—not an easy task, id it? So, why not get some help from the people on the front line? Seek input through an employee survey. Solicit their ideas for increased efficiency.

Fewer Steps, More Efficiency

If yours is a production-based business, efficiency can make or break it. Again, start with your front-line employees—like Mike, your shipping clerk. Look at Mike’s flow and setup. How many steps does each task take? Which can be eliminated or streamlined? How can Mike reduce travel time required for his job requirements? The higher the number of steps his feet take, the more time and energy he’s wasting. Encourage Mike to work with you to redesign his work station, eliminate wasted time and materials, or redistribute his tasks to others, if that makes more sense.

Decrease the Layers of Authority

If your business is sales-related, listen to your phone operators. How can they better balance customer service with efficiency? Are they wasting time waiting for approvals for services they are not authorized to give? Can you empower customer service staff to take care of issues on their own level, decreasing the layers required to handle a problem?

Be an Undercover Boss

Not sure if these areas are problems in your company? Your employees do! So ask them. Spend time with them. Get out of the office and shadow a few employees for a day. Take a cue from the new reality show “Undercover Boss,” where CEOs go undercover in their own companies, working alongside the lowest-level employees—and learning how their businesses really work.

Employees often follow procedures they are trained in, whether or not they are the most efficient use of their time. They do what is expected. But when given the chance to change things, many will jump at the opportunity to contribute to an improved workflow.

Give Mike a Promotion

Perhaps your frontline employees, like Mike, are capable of taking on some management duties. If you’ve downsized your management team, it may be that they already are—and if that’s the case, recognize them for it. Sometimes a change in title helps employees shine in ways you didn’t expect—and it can be real morale booster, too. So make Mike the Shipping Manager if he deserves it!

Talk to Your Staff

As with most management challenges, the key to increasing productivity lies in staff communication. Talk to your workers, learn how they do their jobs every day, and solicit their ideas for improvement. If they are willing to take on more responsibility, start on a plan to make that happen. And if they are at the point where another task will send them out the door—you need to know before it happens.