Jason Shah is the founder and CEO of Do, a collaboration platform that helps you run productive meetings.

Workplace efficiency is a bit of an art form -- treat every employee in exactly the same way at the same time, and you'll see a huge discrepancy in performance across the team. 

This is because people aren't robots. Some are motivated by external praise, while others are driven by incentives. And some might require a little more guidance, while others are perfectly self-sufficient. 

But making a few tweaks can make a big difference.

Our company, Do, is focused on enhancing productivity at work by helping people spend less time in meetings and more time focusing on actual work. So, we've learned a lot about how people manage their time at work and how they can leverage the power of efficiency to streamline their productivity.

Here are five changes managers can make to improve workplace efficiency.

Offer More Effective Support

What is getting in the way of employees completing assigned tasks? Do they have any needs in terms of equipment? Could they use some help from others? Are they overworked, distracted and unable to focus? 

Support means different things depending on the situation. But if an effective team member is performing poorly, there's likely a reason for it. Avoid taking an oppressive approach, and instead, take the time to understand what's causing the team member to stumble.

Find out what you can do to support them as they move forward with a task or project. A good way we do this at Do is by holding a daily standup where we provide updates all of our progress, both as a team and as individuals, and discuss any roadblocks. This allows us to collaborate with all teams so individuals can accomplish their objectives.

Establish Clear Targets

Many managers don't establish goals beyond the completion of the project, which can result in poor performance. If you have expectations, they need to be expressed. Otherwise, employees won't know what they're supposed to be working towards. 

It's important to be specific and establish project parameters on a granular level. You'll empower your employees to know exactly what they need to do, and this will boost their confidence, too. For example, we set clear goals for ourselves in the form of "sprints." These could encompass goals such as adding new product features, fixing bugs, or improving existing features. This keeps us accountable to the work we pledge ourselves to do, and in a timely manner.

In addition, we regularly do a "product chat" with the whole team where we review the current state of our product and where we think it can go from here. This allow us to brainstorm new ideas for the product, aligning them with our overall vision and strategy.

Provide Proper Training

Are you providing your employees with checklists, procedural documents and manuals they can follow? Do you have a strong training program that teaches a new hire what they need to know, or are you leaving it to chance? Is there someone there to show them the ropes, or are they left to their own devices? 

It takes time for a new hire to familiarize themselves with their new work environment, but you can reduce the learning curve with the right information and training.

Motivate and Reward Employees

One very simple way to ensure your employees are motivated is by encouraging and praising them. If they do something right, then remember to praise them early and publicly if possible.

At Do, we always ensure we applaud the efforts of anyone on our team, no matter their role or what they accomplished. We really value thoughtfulness and the pursuit of high-quality work. 

But even when things aren't going well, encouragement can go a long way towards motivating and can be more effective than reprimanding them. Correction is sometimes necessary, but try to be thoughtful in how you communicate.

Reduce Meetings

Workplace interruptions can lead to decreased efficiency and productivity across your organization. Are you giving your employees autonomy to be able to act on their own? Do they have longer, uninterrupted stretches of time to complete their project work in? 

Meetings can get in the way of the work that needs to be completed, especially if they are being held too often. If this is the case in your company, could you reduce the total number of meetings, or complete them in less time?

Streamline your meeting efficiency by ensuring everyone has access to the agenda in advance, receives the notes afterwards, and is aware of the action items and takeaways that pertain to them. The whole concept of making meetings productive is the mission of our company, so we take systematic problems with meetings and incorporate them into best practices embedded within our product.

As a result, we only hold meetings when necessary; most things like simple progress updates can be discussed over channels like Slack. For a team to be more efficient, the individuals that make up the team need to be more efficient.

This means that personal productivity is a significant factor in overall effectiveness. Identify the obstacles that are standing in the way of better performance, and then go to work on removing those blockages.

Published on: Jul 20, 2016
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