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PRODUCTIVITY

3 Ways to Make Your People More Productive

You've tackled your own productivity issues. Now what about your team's?
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You need your people to be more productive but you can't seem to get them to do the right things in the right way. Sound familiar?

Take a look in the mirror. Are you short-tempered and demanding? Do you expect people to know what you're thinking? Does it annoy you to have to explain the same thing over and over again?

If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then you need to change your behavior or hire someone else to do the job of managing your organization. If you're ready to change, here's what to do to boost workplace productivity.

1. Distill Your Message, Communicate, Repeat

You can't expect other people to read your mind. Instead, distill your action plan into a few simple phrases and communicate them over and over again, until you look into the eyes of your people and see that every one of them has completely internalized your goals.

And be ready to do it all over again when a change in business priorities or the competitive environment calls for it.

Provide ongoing updates and clearly spell out the overall goals so that your team knows which items to complete first on their to-do lists. Your example should translate into how everyone in the company conducts themselves. You should encourage open, clear, and constant communication so that the company culture is a transparent one.

2. Add Collaborative Space

Your office environment should reflect your transparency. One way to do that is to provide open, collaborative spaces, where employees can hold informal meetings and brainstorm.

PayPal's new offices in Boston, for example, eliminate the distinctions between where people work independently and where they work together. PayPal Media Network's COO, David Chang, said he designed the office to encourage collaborative thinking. Desks roll and are moved around. Instead of having one or two conference rooms, PayPal distributed 40 of them throughout the office, as well as housing 10 lounges where employees can hold informal meetings. PayPal also uses IdeaPaint, so people can write on the walls. That helps people brainstorm wherever they happen to be sitting or standing. And if all the participants have a pen, they can all scrawl their ideas.

If those ideas result in new services that boost revenues, the open spaces easily pay for themselves.

3. Break Down Silos

You probably hire people for different functions, such as engineering, sales, customer service, and so on. But if these people don't work together, your customers will suffer. Imagine how much better your products could be if sales tells engineering what customers are asking for and customer service shares the most frequent customer complaints. Such cross-functional collaboration could result in a new design that boosts sales and increases customer satisfaction, which translates to more repeat sales.

So change the seating arrangements to mix different people from different teams together for more collaboration and communication between groups.

Follow these three strategies and your people will do the right things--more effectively and with gusto.

IMAGE: Getty Images
Last updated: Apr 28, 2014

PETER COHAN

Strategy consultant, startup investor, teacher, corporate speaker, pundit, and author of 11 books, Peter Cohan has invested in six startups, three of which were sold for a total of $2 billion. Before founding Peter S. Cohan & Associates in 1994, he worked with HBS strategy guru Michael E. Porter.




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