Just what is efficiency? If you, as a business owner, can’t define just what you mean and expect when looking for more efficiency in your business, you’ve already lost the battle.
In my work as a corporate trainer – whether I’m working with a single employee, a department, or a team – I like to define efficiency as the work or tasks not just undertaken, but actually completed in a given timeframe.
Whether that timeframe is a single day, a week, or the duration of a project is irrelevant – efficient employees work hard to complete their tasks. This means the company gets more from that employee, at the same rate of pay.
The question remains though, whether you as an employer inspire this in your workforce. There can be only one answer to this.
It’s understandable that as a manager one looks to the overall functioning of your business, department or team, however, inspiring a work environment where efficiency is the norm requires more than that.
Employees need attention on an individual level. Efficiency, or its breakdown, begins there.
If an employee is bored with his or her work, or doesn’t feel motivated to complete the tasks at hand, the efficiency in the entire office will decrease and before you know it deadlines are pushed back and being missed.
Having defined what ‘efficiency’ means to you, the first step in inspiring this environment is identifying the reasons employees aren’t being efficient.
If you’re coming up with a single reason, chances are you haven’t looked hard enough. Some employees may be less efficient as a result of boredom, whereas others may be your classic procrastinators.
To truly get to the bottom of what the causes of inefficiency are, you need to talk to your employees on a one-on-one basis.
The nuts and bolts
There are also practical steps to be taken. Rather than choosing to chide or berate those employees most susceptible to interruptions, create a calmer work environment by limiting interruptions to those employees. Allow for periods of concentration without interruption, especially if the tasks have approaching deadlines, but also recognise and accept the fact that this is how these employees operate.
Whereas some can singularly focus on a task until its completion, others need momentary breaks throughout that task to be able to complete it.
While a co-operative environment is a pleasant work environment, you may also find that some employees are spending too much time assisting colleagues. For those employees, take a look at their job requirements. Efficiency may be lacking as they are pulled in different directions to assist on various projects, without a real focus as to what they ought to be doing.
Delegating of work is important, but must be done diligently and responsibly.
Become an inspiration
For employees who are bored and lack motivation, nothing can stoke that inner fire more than a mentor. A mentor, particularly a successful individual in your company or industry, can show a demotivated employee the importance of their work and provide motivation.
Though this is a basic human need most managers don’t give enough recognition to their staff, probably because they themselves don’t or didn’t receive the level of recognition needed to keep an employee happy – and a happy employee, is a motivated employee.
Recognition can be as simple as literally applauding an employee for a job well done or shining a light on an employee, department, or team who complete outstanding work in the office in internal newsletters
Not only does the recognition received inspire efficiency in those recognised, but gaining recognition may motivate other employees to work harder and set examples for office standards.