One of the best things you can do for your business is improve the efficiency and productivity of your team. Practically all your competitors are improving in this area – the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that productivity has increased by 2.9 percent overall – meaning if you don’t make improvements as well, you’re likely to fall behind. Luckily, improving team efficiency and productivity isn’t too difficult. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Set Clear Goals and Targets
First, it’s important that you get into the habit of creating clear goals and targets. If a team member has something to work on, but no clear deadline for when it’s due, they’ll likely take longer to complete the task. At the same time, if they’re unclear about what they should be working on or how they should do it, they’ll waste time trying to figure these things out.
Before you do anything else, take a look at your simple business plan template and how you’re setting your goals and targets. Does everyone on the team know the final goal? Do they know what they need to do to get there? Have you set a reasonable deadline? Once you’ve gotten these things in order, then you can move onto some other efficiency-increasing strategies.
Do Things Right the First Time (Even if it Takes Longer)
Often in our rush to do things faster, we often do them incorrectly. This then leads to spending more time correcting our mistakes, so that we end up not even saving any time at all. In fact, trying to multitask can decrease your productivity by up to 40 percent. If you want to improve efficiency and productivity, sometimes you need to slow down and focus on one thing at a time.
For example, let’s say you need to write an email to a fellow team member outlining the steps they need to take. You rush through the email, and as a result you don’t provide some key information that they need to get their work done. Now they’re writing you back asking follow up questions, so you have to take more time out of your day to explain things again. If you had just spent more time on the original email, both you and the other team member would have been more productive.
This example may not sound like a big deal, but it adds up. One study found that businesses spend more than 17 hours a week just clarifying their communications. When looked at like this, you can see the importance of doing things right the first time, especially when it comes to communicating with other team members.
Check Email Less Often
A major workplace productivity killer is checking email too often. One study found that the average office worker gets around 121 emails every day. Even if you only spend 30 seconds on each email, that’s still an hour of your day spent just reading emails. Of course, most people spend more than 30 seconds on each email. This is because it takes time to open up the email client, read the new email, perform any responses, and then try to get your mind back on your original task.
A better strategy is to set aside specific times throughout the day to handle emails. For example, answer emails when you first arrive in the morning, right before your lunch break, and before you leave at the end of the day. This will allow you to focus solely on emails, so that your attention isn’t getting interrupted throughout the day as you work on other things.
Improve Your Communication Technology
Image Source: https://www.softwareadvice.com/resources/boost-productivity-chat-presence/
If you want to remove some of those emails, consider switching to other forms of communication. There are apps like Slack which make it easy to quickly communicate with all your team members, so you don’t have to rely on back-and-forth emails. You can then view your entire conversations in one place, share files if you need to, and get alerts when there’s a new message. As seen in the graph above, one study found that using this software greatly reduced the number of calls and emails, among other benefits, which in turn boosted productivity. Sometimes it isn’t the number of emails that’s slowing you do, but the fact that you’re using email at all.
In one survey, 86 percent of executives cited ineffective communication as the cause of poor productivity. You need to choose a communication method that works best for your team and the type of projects you’re working on. One study found that using this software greatly reduced the number of calls and emails, among other benefits, which in turn boosted productivity. If you don’t already have some great communication software at your disposal, now is the time to get some.
Automate What You Can
Finally, look for ways that you can automate some tasks. If your team members are stuck performing small, repetitive tasks all the time, this will clearly eat into their productivity. For example, let’s say one of your team members is in charge of creating blog posts for your website and sharing them on social media. Rather than spending more time crafting the perfect blog post, they have to manually enter the hyperlink into each of your social media accounts. This is a task that could be easily automated with some social media software, freeing up your team member to focus on more important tasks.
There are plenty of things you can automate. Email drip campaigns, updating prospect information, coordinating schedules, sending reminders and more. The key is to look for areas in your own business where you’re wasting time – even if it’s only a few seconds or minutes – then see if there’s a way to automate it. There’s a good chance you’ll be able to find tools that can help, for example practice management software can help you with tasks, such as setting up appointments with suppliers and generating financial reports. Once you have them set up, your entire team will become more productive.
Make Efficiency and Productivity a Priority
Too many businesses think improving productivity and efficiency just means working faster or for longer hours. However, it’s more about removing distractions from your day and making the most of the time you already have. If you can add some discipline to when you check your emails, improve communication throughout the team, and find ways to automate some simpler tasks, you’d be surprised at how much you can increase productivity.
Hopefully this guide was able to give you some ideas on how to get started, and before long your team will be getting more done in the same amount of time.