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How to improve productivity in your team

Posted by Rowan O'Grady, Hays Canada President on Thursday, Jun 22, 2017

Hays Blog: 3 ways to unlock productivityProductivity can be one of the most elusive of business goals. It’s often the piece of the puzzle that means you achieve your targets without increasing headcount – but how can you achieve it?

This question should be urgent for Canadian business leaders and managers because the Hays Canada 2017 Salary Guide finds that 62 per cent of employers expect business activity to increase, but only 35 per cent say they will increase headcount.

If your organization intends to increase business activity, without increasing headcount, a focus on productivity is critical.

In my experience, boosting productivity sits at the intersection of tools and motivation – but too often business leaders focus on one or the other.

Giving your team the tools they need
Providing talented people with the right tools, in particular giving them the right technology and training to be even more effective at their jobs, is critical if you want to win in the productivity game.

This is something I’m passionate about, and that Hays invests in. We want our teams around the world to have state-of-the-art front office and back-end technology, so they can work as efficiently as possible.

The issue here is two-fold. Firstly, you need to ensure they have the basic tools and technology required for the task. You can’t ask someone to dig a hole without giving them a shovel. Equally you need to make sure that your employees have the necessary equipment to do the tasks you’ve given them.

Secondly, when we’re talking about productivity you need to go a step beyond the basics. If you’re asking employees to give you their best effort, but you’re not giving your employees the best tools, you’re creating a situation that is likely to make them feel disengaged and unsupported.

Establish a collective vision
Technology and training can be replicated by your competitors, but your people can’t – they are your key differentiator. It’s important to understand that your most important asset can’t just be plugged in, pointed in the right direction and expected to be productive. They must be made to feel part of what you are trying to achieve in order to perform at their best.

Many of us have experienced first-hand the detrimental impact that disengaged employees can have on a business. I’m a firm believer in encouraging my people to shape their roles and most importantly, take ownership of what they do and how they do it. This ultimately helps employees see the connection between their day-to-day work, and the larger vision of your business. It creates a cycle of productive behaviour.

Employees must feel they are part of something. Over the years I have seen how those who share the same vision, who feel they are part of my business’ on-going strategy and are on a joint pathway to success with me, are those that will always give my business more and their best.

Give your people focus
But unlocking the human potential to drive productivity doesn’t guarantee success. I also believe you need to strike the right balance between boundaries, freedom, and trust.

You need to have clear targets, boundaries and expectations in place to boost productivity within an organization. But I also see how many of my clients and partners across different sectors are combining this with giving people space and freedom to think, and that is also key to harnessing a productive workforce.

Large numbers of organizations suffer from having too many ‘yes’ men and women. It’s all too easy to take orders and steamroll through to-do lists, but I see time and time again that the most effective teams and organizations are those which are given the space to think about, and challenge constructively, the latest strategy, plan or new product, not just deliver it blindly. As a result, they are able to clinically identify and focus on those tasks which drive the most value for the business.

This ultimately makes for a more energized, effective and productive workforce. If you then give this sort of team the tools and technology to get things done faster and better, you are more likely to win.

Of course, investing in technology and training will have an impact on productivity if those investments are done well, and that’s something I’m hugely passionate about, but it’s only half the answer. Going back to my earlier point, technology and training can be replicated by your competitors, but your people can’t – they are your key differentiator. Never ever lose sight of that.

I believe that inspired, focused and talented employees who harness the power of technology, are the solution to the productivity puzzle. So, put the same amount of investment into your people as you do into your technology and you will reap the rewards. After all, you can’t have one without the other.

How do you find the employees who will make that difference in your organization? One piece employers tell us they’re missing is hiring for team and organizational fit. Get a copy of the first two reports in our Fit series to find out what you might be missing.

Find your next productivity star - register a job, or contact us today.

For more advice on managing your team, check out some of our other blogs:

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