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Boosting Productivity

Monday, October 14, 2013 - 07:39

by Leon Gettler

Productivity is not the responsibility of workers. It’s up to managers and that’s a real challenge. How do managers achieve a better quality of work, complete less re-work, improve customer satisfaction, get a more motivated workforce, and improve management and staff relationships?

Forbes has several productivity building tips for managers. The first is to design pay packages with incentives and bonuses for all employees, including those at the lower end of the food chain. To ensure it doesn’t cost too much, the program has to be carefully structured so that the additional payouts reflect clearly defined revenue and earnings targets. Managers are also advised to provide regular, helpful feedback to employees in a manner that encourages, not discourages. Of course, not all feedback has to be positive. If there are problems, they have to be discussed.

But criticism works when it’s done thoughtfully. Managers should also provide support for employees where needed, they shouldn’t withhold praise and recognition and they have to make sure they are good role models. Nothing demoralizes employees more quickly than seeing senior leaders act in a way they don’t respect. And finally, all managers have to be trained.

Arnold Anderson at the Houston Chronicle says managers need to look at creating a proactive workforce. Employees tend to do a better job when management is not standing in the way. He says the management team should also maintain a positive approach and reinforce positive behaviour. Managers can do this by spending time emphasising employee accomplishments by recognising them in public. Employees will begin to associate a strong work ethic with being recognised for positive results. That will increase productivity.

Managers also have to encourage communication. One of the things that can slow productivity is when a mistake is made, but that mistake is not communicated to the responsible parties. If the mistake is not brought to management’s attention, it will keep on being made.

And finally, managers need to focus on getting results. That means they should create performance metrics that employees need to achieve, and make the achievement of those metrics part of the employee performance review.

As I write here, managers can boost productivity by running better meetings, creating more targeted reporting lines, making sure there is proper follow through and delegating better are a good start. But they first need to think strategically. They also need to bring in active management methods and systems to ensure productivity is running smoothly. The rest would follow.

They can, for example; use lean management tools. All easily available and used by companies everywhere from Toyota to Motorola, these tools include concepts like error and mistake proofing, lean visioning, and lean Six Sigma. Workers and managers come together to work through them and identify trouble spots and how to improve them. This allows managers to create tighter reporting lines, unclog the system so there is proper follow through and work out whether they need so many meetings, or at least improve the ones they have to ensure they actually deliver something.