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Increasing Productivity

10 Ways To Make Your Employees 10x More Productive

Good managers help each member of the team bring out their inner superstar.

John Rampton

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As a manager, one of your biggest responsibilities is to inspire other people to be the best versions of themselves. If done well, everyone on your team will not only be more productive and efficient, but also happier with their jobs. One of the hardest challenges, especially for new managers, is to balance this leadership mindset (focusing on helping other people) while still finding ways to get your own work done.

Whether you have read countless leadership books, have been managing others for a long time or got thrust into a position ill-prepared, leading employees and empowering them to do good work is an art that can be learned just like programming skills or riding a bike.

While there is no prescriptive and guaranteed method to become the “best leader ever,” there are many actionable things you can do to ensure your employees are constantly headed in the right direction.

Here are 10 tactical ways to help your employees be more productive – a great foundation for future leadership success.

1. Be yourself

There is no replacement for authenticity. People can sense fakeness! Having to put on a face with your employees every day can not only lose their trust, but it also makes work less enjoyable for you.

There’s no need to overcompensate with certain leadership styles based off of how other people lead – especially if it is out of your comfort zone. Behaving in a manner that is consistent with your beliefs and values will give you more energy each day and it will send a message to your employees to be themselves.

Related: 6 Steps To Go From Procrastinating To Productive

2. Create a culture of transparency and feedback

While many managers are afraid to do this, admitting when you are wrong is crucial to building an honest and transparent culture where everyone can feel free enough to be their best at work. For me, this starts at the highest level. So if you’re the CEO, learn to admit when you’re wrong.

Sometimes, as we sit in a leadership role, we think have to demonstrate control and always be right. Yet, it actually shows more courage to admit when you don’t know the answer or that you made a mistake. Doing so will establish a layer of transparency with your employees and promote a culture of learning. In the long view, it will allow you to change your ideas and tendencies without needing to maintain your ego.

staff-management3. Get to know each individual

It’s hard to remember that Jan told you her daughter broke an arm and that Jose’s father-in-law was in town for the weekend. Following up on the little things every Monday morning demonstrates a genuine care for your employees.

Asking about something that you know has been going on in someone’s life or checking in on someone when they seem a bit down can build a stronger connection between you and every team member.

With this connection will come an opportunity to understand what motivates your employees, what they enjoy doing and what they are working toward. When an employee knows that their boss cares about their success, they’ll have more motivation to work and they’ll feel an obligation to work hard for you. Plus, it will make it easier to give constructive feedback when they know you have their best interests at heart.

I personally go on daily walks twice each day during work hours. I typically invite two or three people for each walk. This helps me get to know people with my busy schedule. Make time for it.

4. Appreciate good work

Giving recognition for work that was is lacking can set a bad precedent. While the line can sometimes be hard to draw, being attentive to the effort, growth and output of your employees will allow you to give them proper recognition.

Many employees are so caught up in their own worlds and won’t give each other the recognition they deserve, so being the one to applaud good work can keep motivation levels high and show much needed recognition.

You’ll be surprised how much a “good job” goes with some people. It can make the difference between a happy and productive employee vs. someone who leaves your company.

Related: Your Crazy Erratic Sleep Routine Is Making You Less Productive

5. Empower them with the best technology

People often spend hours on tasks that can be automated or highly sped up with technology. Most of the time, it’s actually cheaper to pay for things like calendar automation than it is to schedule meetings manually. There are solutions for many things today that you might not even know exist.

Take a look at the tasks employees are doing, especially the monotonous ones that bother them. Spending the time to find solutions that can automate or speed up those tasks will not only make them more productive, but also a lot happier.

6. Encourage risk taking

If there were a 40 percent chance that a project one employee could take on would fail and a 60 percent chance it would succeed, then the decision to pursue the project will be largely based on their perception of the risk of failure. In a culture where failure is met with harsh criticism and fear of being fired, these 60/40 decisions that, overall, would benefit a company, won’t be enacted.

Employees face decisions like these daily on whether to try something a bit more ambitious than the norm.

Encouraging this risk taking will not only make employees more confident and autonomous, but it will yield more output within a culture of innovation.

7. Get everyone behind the mission and keep them there

One of the biggest challenges at a company, especially as it grows, is keeping each employee excited about the work that they’re doing. When people are working intrinsically and feel like the work that they are doing is the best possible way that they could be spending their life at the moment, their output is going to be exponentially higher.

If they’re basing part of their self concept on the work that they are doing and they care deeply about it, then each day they will be coming into work with the energy to give it all they have.

Related: 3 Habits of Exceptionally Productive Leaders

8. Give people freedom and autonomy

If people feel like they have to be doing their work in a particular way, have to wear certain things in the office, and can’t be themselves, they are going to be less happy and productive.

Having honest conversations about the type of work they want to do, encouraging employees to take a goal or idea and run with it, and letting them revolve their work around the lifestyle they want can create momentum in the office – encouraging employees to work harder on what they enjoy most.

9. Push people to do what they don’t think they can do

Autonomy is important, but without an overall sense of guidance, people might spend significant time trying to figure out what they actually should be doing.

Checking in and challenging them to ask questions like “why am I working on this particular thing? What else can/should I be working on? Is what I’m doing the best use of my time right now and is there a way to do this more efficiently?” can help accelerate their learning and productivity.

10. Hire the best people

It goes without saying, but in an ideal world you can hire people that are very passionate about the work they are doing, know how to deal with ambiguity, and know how to push themselves.

Often it’s not the case that everyone on your team is a shining star. Part of being a manager is helping to bring these superstar qualities out of normal people. That being said, knowing when the person isn’t a good fit and cutting ties is critical. No matter what tactics you employ, there are certain people that will never be a great fit in certain jobs.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor, online marketing guru and startup enthusiast. He is founder of the online invoicing company Due. John is best known as an entrepreneur and connector. He was recently named #2 on Top 50 Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine and has been one of the Top 10 Most Influential PPC Experts in the World for the past three years. He currently advises several companies in the San Francisco Bay area.

Increasing Productivity

Take Responsibility For Your Company’s Culture To Boost Productivity

A healthy culture isn’t a nice-to-have but a must-have.

John Rampton

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arianna-huffington

Whether you’re running an early-stage startup or a fast-growing company, every organisation has a culture. And it can determine whether your business succeeds or fails.

Your company’s culture comprises the actual work environment for your team and the standards everyone is held to. It also dictates how colleagues interact and communicate and the values and beliefs of your team. In fact, one survey shows that 86 percent of employees believe their company’s culture influences how productive they are.

No wonder Arianna Huffington has described corporate culture as “a company’s immune system.”

“Ultimately,” she says, “your health depends on your immune system.” Here are four ways a healthy company culture boosts morale and productivity.

It makes employees happy

A study conducted by economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12 percent spike in productivity, while unhappy workers were 10 percent less productive. As the research team states, “We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity. Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings.”

If you have employees who dread coming into work and are spending more time looking at the clock than working, how productive do you really think they are? What’s more, happier employees tend to work better with others, solve problems instead of complain about them and make fewer mistakes. They also have more energy and motivation, which helps them learn faster and make better decisions.

Related: Wasted Employee Time Adds Up: Here’s How To Fix It

It promotes collaboration and stronger relationships

A healthy and positive company culture encourages your teammates to get to know one another. That friendly chatter eventually leads people to feel comfortable enough to share advice, opinions and ideas.

When there’s a large project looming, your team members will be able to work together faster and more efficiently because they know how to communicate. More importantly, this leads to your team building friendships – which has been found to increase productivity and engagement.

“People are more creative and productive when they experience more positive inner work life, including more positive emotions, stronger motivation toward the work itself and more positive perceptions of the organisation,” says Harvard Business School Professor Teresa Amabile, who co-authored “The Progress Principle.”

It inspires creativity

Let’s say that an employee or colleague comes to you with a suggestion. If you immediately dismiss her idea, do you think she’ll come to you the next time she has an “aha” moment?

Healthy company cultures encourage people to be creative through brainstorming sessions and new responsibilities. This not only gives them a chance to be heard, but it also helps them look for unique ways to solve problems.

It influences individual mindsets

Company culture also affects how each team member views his or her individual performance. It shouldn’t comes as a surprise, then, that healthy cultures foster more high-performing team members. Aaron Schmookler, leadership coach and co-founder of TheYesWorks, a training and team-building organization, calls this positive peer pressure.

“Why do aspiring Olympians train with other aspiring Olympians?” he asks. “In part, they want the high-performance drive to rub off on them if they don’t have as much of it as they wish.”

According to Schmookler, even when someone already has a high-performance mindset, she’ll want to keep it and deepen it so she can keep pushing forward. Being surrounded by others pushing for greatness makes the hard work feel easy.

Schmookler also says the opposite is true.

“We’ve all heard of workplaces where a new person comes into a low-performance culture and people tell them, ‘slow down.’ ‘You’re making us look bad.’ High-performance cultures have people who instead say, ‘Pick it up. You can do it.’”

Related: 7 Ways To Get Better At Working With Others

How to avoid toxicity

There’s a strong correlation between morale and productivity. If you want your team to be more productive, you’re going to have to foster a healthy and positive work culture. Emma Seppala, Ph.D., and Kim Cameron, Ph.D., suggest in Harvard Business Review that you can achieve this by fostering social connections.

Encourage your teammates to get to know each other by hosting social events or having them eat lunch together. You must also get away from your desk and have face-to-face interactions with your team. Go out of your way to help as well.

Leaders who are fair and self-sacrificing inspire employees to become more loyal and committed. If your team is swamped, step in to help. Encourage people to talk to you – don’t brush someone off when he has a problem. It gets the problem off his mind, which means he can focus on work.

A healthy culture isn’t a nice-to-have but a must-have. Culture exists, whether we actively cultivate it or let it develop on its own. To get the most productivity you can, make sure to build an environment where people feel respected and inspired. It will not only make your employees happier, but it will also fuel high-quality work.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Increasing Productivity

Why You Should Gamify Your Business

Businesses do not succeed unless we understand why they operate and what their founder’s intentions are for creating the business.

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Sweat pouring down his forehead, staring intently at the chessboard, an anxious Bobby Fischer faces imminent defeat. A few uncharacteristic blunders at the beginning of the game has the audience on pins and needles. It’s the height of the cold war and a stalemate between Boris Spassky has an unnatural weight for a chess match. The cameras cramp the space, distracting Fischer and causing him to throw the game. Then another.

Anxiety is higher than ever. Finally, Fischer demands that cameras stop piercing the so-called “Match of the Century.” Then, suddenly, he began to win. He won again and again until finally, he was unstoppable. Final score: Fischer, 12 and one half, Spassky, 8 and one half. Fischer was now the undisputed world champion and the world couldn’t stop talking about it.

Why games motivate us so deeply

How could a game, a game that later wasn’t even televised, capture the world’s attention? How could a simple chess match capture the imagination of an entire generation?

Games are powerful things. Unlike real life, games have clear goals, constant coaching, and immediate feedback. There are points, winners, losers, upsets, dark horses, and reigning champions. Everything is organised in a refreshingly understandable, trackable way. Experiences are tallied into points, matches are organised into tournaments with the promise of prizes, advancement, and adulation.

Gamification, in this sense, is actually quite old. It has been practiced for generations. For time immemorial, games have taught us important skills, both technical and social. Now, however, a few game changers are using gamification to create outstanding products and drive business goals.

Related: 3 Ways Workplace Gamification Can Backfire – And How To Avoid Them

 How gamifying a business task works

In business practices, you can use gamification to help motivate employees and to understand the motivations of your customers, clients, and business partners. When put into practice, this can mean major surges in productivity and profitability. Think about it: We often have friendly competitions among team members to help motivate them to perform to the best of their ability. This is a simple gamification strategy that can be implemented in any business to a wonderful result.

Gamification, according to Yu-kai Chou, author of Actionable Gamification and pioneer within the gamification industry, is a mixture of game design, gaming dynamics, motivational psychology, user experience design, neurobiology, technology platforms, and behavioural economics. This may sound like a loose classification of complex and disparate fields, but it’s actually an adept definition of an all-encompassing philosophy on life and what motivates us to do what we do in our daily lives.

The drives that motivate us

What about gamification makes the philosophy so effective? There are eight core principles that are considered what is called the “octalysis,” a conceptualisation created by Yu-kai Chou. Basically, Chou posits that eight core drives motivate us in every facet of our lives. Not only can we use these drives in our personal lives, we can also use them in our work and business lives.

A mixture of drives can give us varying degrees of interest, dedication, and motivation. These core drives are as follows according to the octalysis: meaning, accomplishment, empowerment, ownership, social influence, unpredictability, scarcity, and avoidance.

The last three mentioned on the list can be used in negative ways to achieve participation. For example, using avoidance, or the feeling that you must act in order not to lose something can cause people to feel manipulated in the long-term. However, avoidance can be built into your motivation matrix if used properly and sparingly.

Truly, each drive has to be used with context, in the same way employing avoidance has to be monitored and managed. All these motivations can be employed to help better your organisation by finding those key intrinsic and extrinsic motivators that help you accomplish your business goals.

Gamification is the simple practice of identifying motivating factors and qualifying them through a myriad of ways.

In some cases, gamification boils down to simply analysing our motivations accurately so that we can either change them or manipulate them to better serve us. There is no better arena for this time of analysis and planning than business.

Businesses do not succeed unless we understand why they operate and what their founder’s intentions are for creating the business.

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Increasing Productivity

Wise Words From wiGroup On Building A “Wow” Company Culture

wiGroup has three underlying visions that form the basis of the business’s culture. Bevan Ducasse calls them the 3Ps.

Nadine Todd

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1. Passionate people

I loved the idea of starting a business and coming to work each day with passionate people who love what they do. Working in corporate there were too many people who just wanted to get to the weekend, and I found that really sad. You go through your whole life not enjoying what you do. One of the main books I read that got me there was Richard Branson’s Screw it, Let’s do it. His whole philosophy is about fun and loving what you do.

We even have a full-time coach that everyone can access. It’s up to you to book time with him, but everyone does, thanks to a culture of self-growth and personal development. His time is fully booked. I had to build a business case to justify the hire, but I worked out that If I increased the productivity of 100 people by 10%,  you effectively have ten more people working in the business. It’s hard to put a tangible number on it, but what we’ve seen is that the productivity, attitude, leadership and personal growth equates to roughly 20% across the organisation of 150 people.

I believe that great organisations find people and make them come alive in what they’re brilliant at. There are things I don’t like or am not good at that other people love. If you’re not good at something, get the right person in. Focus on what you’re brilliant at to move the needle. But do the same for your employees. We all have aspects of the job we need to do that we don’t love, but the core of what we do should align with our passions.

2. Remarkable product

We’re passionate about building solutions that add value to people’s lives. How do we add value? We never build products for the sake of it — everything we do fulfils a purpose.

Related: Strong Company Culture Fattens The Bottom Line

3. Profit

This speaks to the sustainability of the business, which ultimately comes down to balancing people, product and profit. Just chasing profit without a focus on product isn’t sustainable, and nor is looking after people and not profit. But you can never lose sight of your people either. If you’re running a company and focusing on your product IP, you’re missing the mark — this speaks to how fast things are changing. Your IP is your human capital. That is the one thing that will give you a competitive edge over five, ten or even fifteen years. The product you have now won’t give you the competitive advantage in ten years.

This vision is completely ingrained across our team: That’s what we’re about, seeing people come alive, building amazing products, and being sustainable in terms of the profits we generate.

Lessons Learnt

1. There’s no such thing as an ‘aha’ moment

It’s not about one good decision I’ve made; it’s about the thousands of little decisions we make every single day as a team that make a business. For me it’s about the fundamentals that you buy into, and that’s people, products and profit. We’ve launched products that fail and others that are a huge success. To get through the failures it’s important to focus on a philosophy of how and what we want to be as a company.

2. Add value first

Our mindset is to add value. It’s the grit that pushes us through failure and keeps 150 people focused and doing great things. I am one of many people. I have a strong role, but I’m still one of many. When you’re looking outward at what you do for others, you stay motivated. A lot of what we do is helping a retailer understand how to unlock third party value. We will connect two brands who we believe could work well together, like a Discovery and a Kauai. Did you know that you could drive value to this retailer, and that retailer could add value to you? We all live in our own worlds and verticals, but knowledge is power. The greater your understanding of the landscape and synergies around you, the more value you can add.

Related: Starbucks Coffee Is All About Culture… For A Reason

3. Business is creativity

You need to be open and teachable and have a mindset that says ‘you’re never there, there’s always something more to learn.’ That’s how you foster creativity and innovation, by always asking what’s next, and how to make something better.

4. Never stop learning

You don’t have to read 50 books a year — two great books a year can give you incredible insights if you implement what you’ve learnt. There’s so much you can learn from the people around you too — ask questions, join networks and find a mentor.

5. Raise leaders, not followers

This is crucial. You need to find the right people, and then empower them to lead. I realised this a few years ago — if I really wanted to scale the business I needed to raise people who were leaders and wouldn’t just follow me. The top level of leadership is the ability to raise other leaders up, and that’s where we should all aspire to be. 

Related: 5 Inexpensive Ways to Create a Company Culture Like Google’s

6. Focus

This is a big one for me, and we learnt it the hard way. We were doing too much, we lacked focus and clarity. These are such powerful tools. If you can bring clarity to teams, you create a clear picture that everyone can follow. Delve into the details — what are you doing, why are you doing it, what does good and great look like, what are your timelines?

The clearer the picture, the exponentially higher the chances are of a team being successful. This includes targets. These shouldn’t be a shot in the dark — they should be unpacked, examined and clarified.

7. The best defense is a strong offence

Worrying about competitors serves no-one — it just keeps you up at night. Instead, you should be pushing yourself — how can we do this better? Keep looking for the next thing to do and improve, and then execute it properly. If someone disrupts us and I know we did the best we could and gave everything — I’ll sleep well at night. But if it’s because we became complacent and rested on our laurels? Well then, we deserved it.

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