A Plan of Action for Productivity Improvement

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Although productivity is a popular buzzword, too many of today’s workers don’t understand management’s expectations or what they need to do to make their own workflow more efficient. It’s up to managers to define and enforce high expectations. This starts with creating and aligning with a strategic plan.

As Salesforce explains, productivity improvement is an organizational goal that is truly never “done.” The following guidance offers tips on how to create efficiencies in any organization.

Create a Living Document

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A strategic plan is only effective when implemented, not merely written. Companies that consistently meet productivity standards write goals and strategies for meeting them every quarter and at annual intervals. Before making any big business decisions, managers should refer to the strategic plan to ensure that it aligns with company goals. The strategic plan should include:

Vision: What the business will look like in three to five years.
Position: Who the company serves and what makes it different.
Objectives: These should be specific, measurable, and not so many that it feels overwhelming.
Strategies: Specific plans to achieve the objectives.
Plans: How to implement the strategies.
Conduct a Productivity Audit

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After creating a strategic plan, the next step towards increased productivity is to evaluate each department’s processes to determine which ones to abandon, improve, or keep without changing. Managers can also choose to implement a productivity audit for their own department. Although this is a slow process, it can uncover valuable information. Here are some examples from other company audits:

Too many manual processes
Double entries
Using methods that take too much time
High-level team members bogged down in too much paperwork or administrative tasks
Lack of training to use more efficient tools

After completing the productivity audit, each manager should devise expectations for new work methods and share them with the team right away.

Forget About Micromanagement

Most employees will rise to the occasion when management provides them with ownership over how they structure their time and manage resources. As long as they know what’s expected of them and the consequences for failing to meet goals, management should trust their team members enough to enable them to determine how, when, and where they complete their work. When managers try to control employees too much, they can become resentful and their work suffers because of it.

Provide Teams with Tools for Maximum Productivity

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A team is only as productive as the tools it has available to use. For example, collaboration tools allow teams to work together in real-time regardless of their physical location. Trello, Google Drive, Hubstaff Tasks, and Slack are just some examples of free online collaboration tools that can improve teamwork.

Productivity tracking apps can also be useful, especially for employees who aren’t sure where their time goes each day. Managers can gain the respect of their teams by listening to what they need to improve productivity and then providing it whenever possible.

Automation All the Way

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If a productivity audit uncovered too many manual processes, it’s essential to start automating them. Automation is faster, drastically reduces errors, and helps to ensure that staff doesn’t overlook anything that requires processing. It also saves employees from completing repetitive and time-consuming tasks every day, freeing up their time to pursue more engaging activities. An engaged employee is a happy employee who will often produce even more than managers expect.

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