Every employer has to ask themselves a certain question at some point - is there anything that I could be doing to get more out of my employees?
The short answer is yes. No matter how efficient you are, there’s always something you could do to make your workplace run a little smoother, or a little more efficiently. A well functioning company can always be made to operate just a little bit better, each and every day.
It holds true, then, that if you’re feeling like you’re really not getting much out of your employees, you have a lot of room for improvement! While we discuss a few of the warning signs of an unproductive workplace, we’ll also suggest a few ways that you can improve your employees efficiency. After trying a few of our tips out, you’ll be amazed that they haven’t been common practice for years!
Put the emphasis on you
Before you start implementing dramatic changes, enforcing new rules, or establishing new standards, you first need to come to terms with one simple fact; there’s only person who you can truly control in the workplace, and that person is you.
If you want to motivate your employees, get the most out of them, or help them become more efficient, you first need to make changes to yourself and how you work each and every day. You can’t expect people to go above and beyond for someone who doesn’t strive to be the best themself - so rather than wasting time hounding your staff on productivity principles and time management strategies, lead by example and demonstrate the best way to get things done.
Take a leaf out of How to Win Friends & Influence People (which, if you haven’t read, is definitely worth perusing), and start by working on yourself.
Dale Carnegie wrote that people are entrenched in their own patterns, and that they’re kings of self-justification. Consider Al Capone, who thought that he was a humanitarian, and that his criminal activities somehow made him a hero!
You can’t convince people that they’re doing things wrong, or that your way of doing things is right. As such, when trying to motivate your employees, there are two things you should always remember:
- To create change you have to talk to people on their own terms, and identify what individually motivates them.
- You can’t create change by criticizing people, because they’re already convinced that they’re right.
The easiest way to fix a workplace issue is to incentivise (not necessarily with money - this can be as simple as creating a climate where people enjoy working, they get a lot of praise, and have the potential for career advancement), and to keep it positive (if you keep riding your employees with angry or critical remarks, they’re going to produce more work in the short term, but quickly burned out and quit).
If your employees are late, it means they’re not motivated. Someone who feels like their job is wearing them down will find it harder to get up in the morning, compared to somebody who is raring to go.
Why are your employees unmotivated? There are several possibilities; your managers might be too strict, they may feel like they’re being taken for granted, perhaps they’re unhappy with their work, they’re bored, or just feeling the brunt of the daily grind. Whatever the reason, if your employees are consistently showing up late, they’re clearly unmotivated and will be less efficient on a day to day basis.
If this is happening with one of your employees, there’s always the chance that they’re just a lazy good-for-nothing. However, on the chance that something else is the root of the problem, have a talk to them before flying off of your handle. Figure out if there’s something wrong, either with them or in the office. You might just get an engaged, productive worker with a few spoken words.
If there’s more than one employee showing up late daily, then you have an office problem. Go fix it.
They’re unorganised or misinformed
Are you getting muddled answers in briefings, or is every project subtly wrong? You might have a problem with communication. There’s clearly a break in your chain of command; information is obviously not filtering down correctly.
If this is your problem, the answer is not to berate your workers or e managers. The solution is to find the break in communication, find a way to fix the hole, and make sure everyone’s on board and in the loop.
This isn’t just some ‘neat freak’ thing. Workers that leave their desks messy are usually unhappier and more unproductive. If you see piles of crumpled papers, littered post it notes, and personal effects lying around, you have an efficiency problem.
However, it’s important to note that you won’t get anywhere by searching for, and criticising, slightly unkempt desks. People have varying standards of tidiness - don’t assume the worst because one stapler is out of line. If an employee is unmotivated or unproductive, there will be other signs besides having a messy desk (like those mentioned in this article!). Assess the situation, and see what other red flags are popping up before worrying about their untidiness.
Efficient employees are working on the edge of their seat, are constantly challenged to do better, and improve their skills every day. If they’re not doing this they’re more than likely bored - and as we’ve previously discussed, bored employees are inefficient ones.
Getting the most out of your employees can be a simple, self-fulfilling prophecy. Expect more out of them, give them jobs they enjoy doing, and they’ll do more work!
There’s office drama every day
An angry, fighting office won’t get much done. If this is your issue, there’s two root causes for your problem; either your managers aren’t doing a good enough job at keeping people in line, or your team building and communication skills are lacking. In many cases, both of these problems will be occurring simultaneously.
Working on team building and communication might be the solution to both of your problems. Fostering healthy office relationships will help eliminate the problem at its core; a much more solid solution than relying on managers to keep the situation under control.