When it comes to putting your business in growth mode, productivity is something that must be optimized. But if you’re like most business owners, you’re not sure where to begin. This article will give you a solid starting point.
What’s Your Definition of Productivity?
If you look at the technical definition of productivity, it’s basically a way of measuring efficiency. It’s the rate at which you’re able to generate a specific output using a defined set of inputs.
For example, if a 5,000-square foot kitchen produces 10 cakes per day, that’s not very productive. If it produces 500 cakes per day, that’s pretty productive.
We all have an intuitive understanding of what productivity is, but it’s unique in that it means different things to different organizations. As Tony Robbins puts it, “[Productivity] is getting the results you want with less time and effort. When you’re trying to understand how to be productive, what you’re really seeking is a way to achieve your goals while having time to spend on what matters.”
To increase productivity in your organization, you must begin by getting clear on what productivity means for your business. Is it…
- Producing the most possible widgets per day?
- Reducing time spent on operational procedures so that you can spend more time face-to-face with clients?
- Creating more content for your brand?
- Getting more done with fewer employees?
- Reducing waste and maximizing the use of people, materials, and capital?
In most cases, productivity is a combination of factors. It’s about getting the most out of everything you have.
4 Ways to Bolster Productivity
Once you know what productivity looks like for your business, you can dive in. Here are some specific ways we recommend bolstering productivity:
Hire the Right People (And Do This)
Never underestimate the importance of hiring. If you hire the wrong person, it can lead to interpersonal conflict, cultural misfits, workforce attrition, and financial costs associated with recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and (ultimately) firing. On the other hand, hiring the right person can change all of this.
As you think about hiring productive people, there are a few telltale signs to keep an eye on. This includes creative and independent thinking, intrinsic motivation, an innate desire to be successful, punctuality, good listening skills, and attention to detail.
Hiring the right people is the first step. Once you have them on board, the next step is to learn how to delegate tasks properly. This is the key to maximizing productivity. Through delegation, you free yourself up from working in your business and allow you to work on your business (which allows you to further optimize for productivity).
Streamline Manual Tasks
Make a list of all of the manual operational tasks you do on a daily or weekly basis. In most businesses, there will be dozens or even hundreds of them. Then go through and create a list of the top 10 tasks based on the amount of time it takes to complete them.
You’ll typically find that the 80/20 rule applies here. In other words, 20 percent of your manual tasks are eating up 80 percent of your time (and therefore draining your productivity). If you can find a way to streamline these manual tasks, your productivity will soar.
For example, let’s say your business has a fleet of vehicles. Automating fleet maintenance through the use of fleet maintenance software from Cetaris.com could be a gamechanger. It’s able to improve visibility into asset availability, shift scheduling, and task progress with real-time reports – potentially saving hours of manual labor every single week.
You might not have a fleet, but do you have certain administrative tasks or manufacturing processes that eat up valuable man-hours and mental bandwidth every day? Chances are there’s a software or automated tool that can streamline it for you.
Avoid Unproductive Meetings
For the most part, business owners tend to mimic what they’ve seen done before – even if it doesn’t really work. Your average manager doesn’t want to rock the boat, so they just continue going through the motions. This is most clearly seen with meetings.
Average and underperforming businesses are overwhelmed by “meeting mania.” They hold dozens of meetings per week. There are planning meetings, brainstorming meetings, and even meetings to plan meetings. But the brutal reality is that 90 percent of these meetings are unnecessary. If you can avoid EMS (Excessive Meeting Syndrome), you’ll be more productive.
It’s not that all meetings are bad – just that you need to be more judicious with when and how you use them. One way to reduce the number of meetings is to host daily standups where you gather your team for 15 minutes in the morning and briefly touch on everyone’s tasks and expectations for the day.
Then you can carve out another 15-minute block where individual team members can directly follow up with anyone they need to meet with for further clarification. It’s rare that everyone needs to be involved in these conversations. By using a one-on-one post-meeting “breakout” strategy, you respect everyone’s time.
Studies have found that multitasking reduces productivity by a whopping 40 percent! The reason why is quite simple: The human brain can’t perform two cognitive tasks at once. So when you multitask, you’re really just switching back and forth between tasks. And this is where it gets sticky.
It takes more time to switch tasks than to stick with a task and finish it. Each time you switch, it takes several minutes for your brain to catch up to speed. And if you do this continuously throughout the day, much of your time is spent “shifting gears” when it could be spent performing a particular task.
Discourage employees from multitasking by encouraging them to use time-blocking strategies. Never make employees feel like they have to be constantly connected to their email, Slack, or other project management software. Instead, encourage them to check messages at specific intervals throughout the day. The rest of their time can be spent doing specific tasks. This may sound simple-minded, but it works.
If you’re really serious about eliminating multitasking in your organization, you must lead by example. Adopt this same mentality in your own daily processes and people will follow.
Adding it All Up
Productivity might be subjective, but it’s easy to tell when you’re hitting the mark or missing it. By emphasizing the techniques outlined above, you can increase your own team’s chances of operating efficiently and productively on a regular basis. Implement a few of these strategies moving forward and track the results. Don’t be afraid to pivot or iterate when necessary!