Employees are a business’ most valuable asset. This is something that rings true for companies in every sector, and for SMEs in particular it is especially important. Smaller businesses often find themselves inundated with additional tasks as they try to balance delivering the work they have along with their efforts to procure more clients, which means that productivity needs to be as high as possible.
However, more often than not, sometimes through no fault of their own, employees can find themselves feeling unmotivated, and as a result, unproductive. Not only is this detrimental to the team’s personal development, it can also have unwanted effects on the business in terms of delivery of work and financial losses, something that no SME wants.
What makes things rather difficult is that being productive is a tricky concept; it is something that ultimately has to come from within a person. But don’t despair, the good news is that managers do indeed have a part to play in enhancing employee productivity. Love Energy Savings is a growing business that specialises in saving SMEs money, so we’re well placed to offer a few pearls of wisdom in this area. If the New Year has inspired you to make a real difference to the way you run your team, then read on for our top five ways to boost productivity amongst your staff.
1) Share the bigger picture
More often than not, employees can feel unproductive if they feel like they are just a number in a spreadsheet, rather than an important and valued member of a larger team. However, if you want people to be a part of a dream or vision, then it is important that they understand that vision and share it with you.
Managers will find that their team members are far more likely to engage in a certain project or a task if they understand how their efforts, and their contribution, will have an impact on the bigger picture of the business. Managers should spend time ensuring that the members of their team understand the goals of the business, its vision and the part that they play in helping the business meet those targets. Give them something to work for and you will find that they strive a lot harder to achieve success.
There’s a famous story about a janitor at NASA, who when asked what his job was, replied: “It’s my job to help put a man on the moon.” Though his primary job was obviously to fix things and keep everything ticking over, he felt like a crucial part of a team that had one clear overriding goal. NASA is clearly not an SME, yet this is a lesson that organisations of all shapes and sizes can learn from.
2) Empower your team
Often people can feel unmotivated if they believe they aren’t making a valuable contribution to the company. Having tasks delegated to you is part of being an employee; everyone has to do it, but constantly being told what to do, while at the same time having no real responsibility, can really sap the motivation out of a person. As a result, managers should consider loosening the reins a little bit and handing over more decision-making powers to their team in order to give them a bit more control over their own work. We’re not talking about things that will dramatically affect the business, and of course the work will still go through a managerial process, but a little employee empowerment can go a long way.
Implementing a simple strategy such as this one can really make a difference to diminish any frustrations that may arise due to a team member feeling a lack of control over a task. Not only that, but having a small project that they can call their own can do wonders for motivating an employee to do their very best. Having complete control and responsibility over something, no matter how big or small, inspires people to ensure it is produced to the very highest standard.
3) Manage performance
For many SMEs, performance management will not be at the top of their priority list. Any processes that are in place can often be neglected or pushed back in favour of other tasks that appear more important at the time, which can result in conversations regarding performance never taking place. This can go two ways; either poor performance is not addressed, which can often result in resentment, or good performance isn’t rewarded which can also result in a build up of bitterness.
Giving the members of your team something to aim for in their work, something that they can work and progress towards, can do wonders for their productivity. This is because their individual progression could involve accomplishing certain tasks or smoothing out processes, but also because it gives them a goal to reach. It also provides them with positive feedback for a job well done, keeping them engaged and firing on all cylinders.
4) Open lines of communication
Ask any successful manager that you can find, and they will all tell you that the biggest difference between an average manager and one that it both effective and admired is strong communication. More often than not, the issue of communication within a company will often stem from the top down, but the responsibility of maintaining open lines of discussion also lies with managers.
Those in middle management shouldn’t be afraid to kick-start the process of open communication between themselves and the members of their team. Don’t be afraid to put questions out there, to give more information when you feel it would be fitting, and also be as direct as possible - your team will appreciate it. In turn, you should find that your team members are also more open with you as they are more likely to feel that they can come to you should they need clarification on any matters. Often a dip in productivity can be a result of a member of your team not fully comprehending what they have to do. If they feel like they can come to you with questions or issues, then their productivity is likely to increase.
5) Strive for employee engagement
And last, but certainly not least, is the rising importance of employee engagement. The way that businesses operate is changing fast. As we mentioned above, personalised gestures will often go a great deal further than a monetary incentive and that’s what employees want now; a manager and business who will go above and beyond the norm.
Sadly, there are no shortcuts and there is no blueprint as to what creates employee engagement; it’s all about creating a work environment that your employees want to be involved in. Listening to people’s feedback, regardless of whether it is positive or negative, discussing progression, and getting them involved with the business as a whole are just a few ways to increase levels of engagement across your company. The good news is that increasing employee engagement is often considered to be easier in small businesses where managers have more one-on-one contact on a more regular basis. Many managers working in SMEs may find that they are already doing this, just without having considered it to be “employee engagement”, which is a fantastic start.
Whether you implement all of the above into your business or just some of them, don’t expect productivity to spike overnight. That drive to complete work to a high standard has to come from within your team members, but there is certainly plenty that you, as a manager, can do to give them all the tools they need to achieve in the workplace. As we’ve mentioned above, a lack of productivity can have very real effects on the future of the business, both in terms of motivation and profit. By choosing just a few of these tips to incorporate into your management style, and working at them regularly and consistently, you should start to see some very real changes going on in your team.
Here at Love Energy Savings, small businesses are at the heart of everything we do. And while we love to dish out advice on how your business can be its very best and increase profits, we also love to do our part to save you money elsewhere. For many SMEs all over the country, their business energy bills can be a huge drain on their resources, so why not let us lend you a hand and switch your energy provider through us today? Then that’s another load off your mind!