According to some theories, such as Price’s law, the number of people doing the bulk of the work is usually a square root of the total number of your employees. In other words, competence within your company grows linearly while incompetence grows exponentially. The biggest problem with this theory is that it implies that two companies employing the same number of people have the same number of hard workers, as well as the same number of slackers.
It also implies that one’s ethics, personal preferences and work habits stand superior when compared to all other factors, meaning that adequate leadership and work conditions don’t affect productivity that much. In reality, there are so many things that a skilled manager can do in order to increase the productivity of their employees. Here are some of them.
1. The culture of transparency and feedback
One of the main reasons behind the downfall of so many leaders in history was in the fact that no one around them dared to inform them of a problem or pending doom. This creates a two-fold problem. First, as a leader, you get to surround yourself with dishonest people, people who won’t dare contradict you even when it’s more than clear that they should do so. It gets even worse, seeing as how they’ll feel obliged to pat you on the back while you’re heading in the wrong direction, which is something that can drag the entire company down.
Most importantly, ensuring that your employees are quiet around you also ensures that you miss out on some of their most brilliant ideas. The atmosphere of silence is, on its own, enough to kill the morale within the room and allowing this to happen is your fault and yours alone. Make sure that everyone knows they can speak up at any time and let them know that you’re the first person they should address when they have a problem. You need them to see you as their protector, their safety net, instead of looking at you merely as another executive.
2. Give out incentives
The next thing worth mentioning is that you should never underestimate the power of a material incentive. Giving a raise is too expensive, seeing as how it’s an expense that will recur month after month. As for the bonus, it doesn’t really feel special seeing as how everyone around the office feels like they’ve earned it. After all, why would they feel grateful for receiving money that they already see as rightfully theirs? On the other hand, by giving a universal gift card to a valued member of your team, you’re sending a clear message of just how much you value and appreciate them.
There’s one more hidden perk to picking a gift card instead of going for an actual gift. First of all, this is an unconditional gift, something that an employee may use as they see fit. Second, it’s something that indicates trust, seeing as how you’re giving your employee an opportunity to choose their own gift.
3. Help them develop goals
Your best ally in this battle for productivity is the intrinsic motivation of your employees. Now, while there are some who claim that this is not a thing you have any influence over, this is not necessarily the case. A great manager should set aside some time for meeting with their employees and subtly interrogate them about their long-term goals. By persuading them that doing their best directly benefits them, you’ll be able to achieve quite a bit.
For instance, if their goals are of the material nature, subtly hint at the prospect of a raise or a promotion that would automatically lead to a completely different pay-grade. If they dream to start a business of their own, encourage them and tell them how giving their best at their current position helps them acquire necessary business practices and learn the rules of the business world. Overall, people are mostly interested in what they have to gain from a specific situation, so by placing the accent on their own needs and desires, you’ll set the tone of the conversation right where you want it to be.
4. Don’t underestimate the personal loyalty
Showing some personal interest in the private lives of your employees, their long-term goals and interests and their aspirations might make you appear more like a friend than an employer or a manager. Sure, fraternizing with your employees has its downsides, starting with accusations of favoritism and special treatment all the way to an in-office rivalry.
Still, there’s always a way to do so in a professional manner. In this way, you’ll create a strong sense of loyalty for some of your employees. In their eyes, every failure will appear as if they’re failing you personally, which will make them try twice as hard. Of course, it’s your job to ensure that this loyalty is always rewarded properly.
With these four simple tips, you can improve the productivity of your team in a simple and frugal manner. Moreover, each of the above-listed methods creates a systemic improvement that will remain effective even as your company grows. From the entrepreneurial standpoint, scalable methods are always the most effective ones.
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