Structure For Increased Team Productivity
Finding the perfect rhythm for your team’s daily workflow can be a challenge and a half. Many new businesses make the mistake of thinking that attracting top talent and creating a cool office space will be enough to make their businesses succeed. In my work, I’ve found that there are major factors in team management that are often sidelined in developing businesses. When these things are done right, they can majorly improve team productivity and employee satisfaction.
One of the most frustrating things I’ve ever experienced as an employee is the feeling that my insights and opinions don’t matter. Good employers should understand that not only does actively listening help the employee to feel heard, it also allows for an increased diversity of ideas and opinions that can help grow the company.
In addition to basic communication, regular team meetings are essential in every business. They allow for departments to understand the tasks facing each individual team. More importantly, it allows for other team members to offer help and expertise when they are able. Within a department it’s essential that everyone is on the same page, team meetings allow for continuity of work when someone takes vacation or sick time. Both full team meetings and department meetings are especially helpful for the admin side of things, as it helps the team to present a united and consistent experience for all clients. In small business, the whole company should meet either once or twice a month and each department should meet one to two times per week. Meetings don’t need to be lengthy, create a recurring date and time frame and ask each employee to submit any items they may have for the agenda in advance.
Internal Communication Tools:
Encouraging Free Exchange and Ideas
You’ve hired the people on your team mostly for their skills and talent, but it is important to remember that your team can be an amazing resource of ideas and points of view. Meaning that inspiration, ideas, and important feedback can come from members of any part of your company. When you are successful in streamlining communication, it should also help employees to feel comfortable sharing their ideas. Everyone has had vast experiences outside of their current job role. So don’t automatically discount any idea if it comes from an unexpected source within the company.
Idea Exchange Tools:
Set Internal Processes
Processes are what I do best, so I notice when businesses fail to set up the systems that will help their team to be efficient and to consistently complete tasks the way the business has determined to be best practice.
The most common failures I see in workflow planning are:
1. Neglecting to set up a single central file system.
This wastes valuable moments every time a file cannot be found. It’s best to set up standard folders and maintain all common documents in one management system - giving permissions to all employees. Never again should your team spend 20 minutes trying to track down the right version of a file to send to a client!
Note: It’s also a great idea to set up some basic templates of frequently used documents and save them in a “Templates” folder.
2. Not utilising canned/saved responses for common calls and emails.
Your administrative staff and technical support team answer the same inquiries over and over again. Taking the extra 30 seconds to create a canned response for an email can save the team hours in the long run. It will also create a consistent voice for your brand, meaning that all inquiries are handled the same way every time. It can also help to add FAQ to your website to reduce your most common inquiries.
3. Not having a standard training system in place.
When starting a new employee there is so much for them to learn and often there is very little one-on-one time to offer them. Taking a couple hours to create some written or video trainings for common how-tos can be a lifesaver - especially in the event that you are out sick. Don’t have time to do this yourself? Delegate it the employees that complete these tasks everyday. This will help new employees learn at their own pace and keep you from having to repeatedly answer procedural questions.
Internal Process Tools:
Canned & Saved Responses
Physical Office Environment
Another way to boost employee productivity is to make certain that the physical environment is up to par. First make sure that the office is clean and tidy - it may sound obvious, but a messy house (workspace) really does create a messy mind. Create a simple, organised system to ensure paper and documents are filed away, yet accessible. Also, give employees organisational items such as file holders, notebooks, pen holders, etc. to help keep them organised and thus focused.
It’s also essential to help employees to avoid desk fatigue by encouraging regular breaks away from the typical seated, screen viewing position. Keep in mind that sitting for long periods of time is very hard on the body and that prolonged viewing of a screen can cause eye strain issues. For these reasons, you should encourage your staff to take breaks and lunchtime away from their desk whenever possible. That said, most work does require a great deal of sitting and computer work so it’s important to promote sound ergonomics. To start, have employees take this little quiz to help them treat their bodies well in the place they spend so much of their time!
Some equipment can also improve desk fatigue. If you can afford it, purchase sit/stand desks as standing helps employees keep active and moving, which is infinitely better for the body and mind. Personally, I encourage all businesses to have a small area available with the basics of a foam roller and a yoga mat. Stretching throughout the day improves posture and blood flow and movement throughout the day increases productivity.
Physical Environment Improvement Tools:
To help get you going, sign up to receive a free checklist to provide the structure for increased productivity within your office. Your team will thank you!