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OWNER'S MANUAL

5 Ways to Send Productivity Through the Roof

Here's how to motivate employees to get more done--no extra money or real effort required.

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Want to dramatically improve your employees' performance without spending any money?

Want to dramatically improve your own performance without taking classes, attending seminars, or buying cool new gadgets that promise lots but deliver little?

It's easier than you think.

Here's how:

Create self-esteem incentives.

We all work harder when we feel respected and appreciated. (Obvious, but really easy to forget.)

Every employee is different, so think about the type of praise and recognition that has meaning to each person who works for you. For example, some people like to be praised publicly; others prefer a quiet private word.

Then build incentives based on what makes the most impact. Have an employee lead a presentation to upper management. Place an employee in charge of an important project. Give an employee the opportunity to train in another department.

Employees work hard because it's their job, but employees work even harder when they feel good about themselves.

Every job has some latitude--make sure you fully exploit that latitude so your employees can feel better about themselves, both as an employee and as a person.

They'll naturally be more productive--and happier. The two always go hand in hand.

Eliminate stupid stuff.

Every company and every job has a number of once meaningful but now worthless tasks.

Think about all the "that's how we've always done things" stuff. If a task doesn't directly impact sales, quality, productivity, or safety, get rid of it and free up that time.

I once started a new job and had to spend two hours a day creating reports. After a week, I did a little networking and asked the recipients what I could do to improve the reports. Each person answered with some version of "Don't worry about it... I don't even look at them." I stopped creating the reports, no one cared, and I looked like a superstar simply because I had more time to focus on other tasks.

Get rid of the stupid stuff and every employee gets more time to be a superstar.

Ask for one simple thing you could do to make someone's job easier.

Everyone faces roadblocks and hurdles. Everyone deals with frustrations.

If you want to make someone's job easier--and therefore more productive--ask and you shall receive input. Just say, "What is one thing I could do to make your job easier?"

They'll tell you.

Never force your employees to settle for a "same stuff, different day" work life: Status quo is a motivation and productivity killer.

Help out, and use the time to engage.

Managing by walking around is fine, but managing by pitching in is a lot better.

I type really quickly, so even though I was in charge of four departments I went to our shipping department every day to process FedEx packages. It took about 15 minutes, freed up time for others in the department, and gave me an excuse to check in, interact, and see how employees in that department were doing.

Helping out accomplishes two goals: You provide assistance, which is good, and you get to interact in a more natural and unforced way, which is awesome.

Just ask if you can help out. Your employees will appreciate the gesture--and if you pick your spots correctly, you can also learn a lot.

Streamline expectations.

Let me guess: Every time you assign a project, you can't resist adding a few "Hey, while you're at it, wouldn't it be great if you also..." items.

Deciding what to do is important, but often deciding what not to do is even more important. Every position, every project, every initiative has a primary goal, and 90% of the effort of those involved should go to accomplishing that primary goal.

Achievement is certainly based on effort, but achievement is also based on focus. Strip away the ancillary stuff, and turn your employees loose to get on with what is really important.

They'll not only do a better job, they'll have more time to devote to the next critical project.

IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Oct 11, 2012

JEFF HADEN learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business.
@jeff_haden




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