TEN Tips For Improving Your Productivity & Team Effectiveness
At work, you’re probably BUSY and like most business owners just love being ‘hands-on’. But if you are consumed by your workplace – stressed, frustrated, angry, overwhelmed or feeling poorly rewarded – you are probably doing it WRONG! You need better PRODUCTIVITY.
Your time is valuable, so learn how you can make the most of it – to get more done in less time – before it’s too late. Your family and your own health need you to manage your work/life balance better.
1. Start with a Clear PLAN
The best piece of productivity advice I received was “always know your Outcome” – whether it’s your whole life, your business or just a meeting – always know what you are aiming for.
- Create a “Bucket List” or Dream Life List of things you want to do in life – all the things you want to do and see before you kick the bucket
- Decide your longer-term business plan and growth plans – what do you have in mind? How many stores, How big? How many employees?
- Get clear on your business goals – turnover targets, sales targets, GP% target, Wages % Target, Sales per employee. Share some of this information with your team.
- Develop and use VISUAL plans to inspire and motivate others – get some pictures and charts to help keep you on track
2. Focus on Doing ‘HIGH VALUE’ ACTIVITIES
When you started your business you probably had to do everything yourself. Now is the time to STOP doing low paying work and focus on the activities that earn you the most money.
Focus on doing “High Dollar Value” Activities – things that pay really well – like recruiting, training, systemising, coaching, buying better, problem solving and sales/marketing activities.
Reduce your efforts on things that you can get done for less by others – cleaning, moving stock, making coffee etc. Learn how to delegate more effectively.
Calculate your effective Hourly Rate – work out how many hours you work in a year and how much profit you would like your store to make. Let’s say 1250 useful hours for $125k – that’s $100/hour. Now focus on activities that earn more than $100 per hour! You don’t have to do it yourself – just get it done really well.
3. Maximise the Productivity of YOUR TEAM
People are expensive. The cost of store wages is one of the highest expense items in a Small Business – make sure you are getting your money’s worth by engaging your team and being clear about what you want done and how to do it.
Learn to be a better leader – Be positive and optimistic, be clear on your expectations and House Rules. Get the best from your team using genuine appreciation, recognition and incentives. Study personality profiling and understand how other people behave. They are NOT like you, they are different.
Learn to be more flexible in your leadership style. Learn how to deal with conflict, handle difficult situations and find out how to influence and persuade others.
You can build a high-performance workplace by hiring the right people and adopting a positive and systematically organised culture.
4. Harness the Power of SYSTEMS, CHECKLISTS & PROCESSES
Systems save time. They save mental effort and they boost productivity. Just look at how McDonalds trains their young staff to deliver a consistently good product and service.
They don’t make things up or leave it to chance. They follow documented processes. Stop playing the “Guess what’s in my head” game with your team.
In some of our workshops we play training games that demonstrate the power of a process and practice. You can watch the great Youtube video of the difference between the 1950 and 2013 Grand Prix tyre change – what an amazing improvement!
- Get your team to develop CHECKLISTS for the things they do often
- Create a phone system and scripts for handling inbound calls (put up signs)
- Develop a customer handover system – show customers what has been done
- Video some of your processes and develop a better system. Watch and review the video for training or improvement
- Implement a customer delight process – do something special or Give them a promotional gift
5. Work on CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT & GET HELP
When I started out in business I tried to do everything myself and I tried to solve ALL the problems myself. I was busy and overwhelmed by the complexity and number of problems we had.
Then I met Dick Smith who told me to STOP solving everyone else’s problems. He said – Let them solve their own problems. Ask them better questions but avoid telling them what to do.
Continuous improvement helps you become better and better over time.
Try new things and get comfortable making mistakes. Recover, review and repeat. There are better, smarter ways to solve problems which can include:
- Asking for help from others – Phone a friend or ask around.
- Checking google and youtube for ideas – has someone else solved this
- Looking what others in the industry are doing and improve on their ideas
- Finding more resources – read an article or book, ask a supplier or expert
- Getting the team involved – brainstorm – think/write, pair up then group share.
- Try outsourcing or offshoring upwork.com or www.fiverr.com
6. Learn to PRIORITISE BETTER
You may have heard of the Pareto or ‘80/20’ rule – that says that all things are not equal – some things are far more important.
20% of your efforts get you 80% of your results, 20% of customers get you 80% of your sales
and 20% of your stock items gets you 80% of your turnover
- Make a list and prioritise your tasks—ABCD – then number them A1,A2 etc
- Rate all your improvement ideas by ease of implementation and effectiveness
- Concentrate your efforts on the vital few tasks not the trivial many
- Prioritize your tasks – Choose only 3 main things to focus on at a time. Work on them til you are done.
- Save money – Pick up the phone and ask for better prices, terms and conditions.
7. Increase Productivity with better DAILY HABITS & ROUTINES
Some of the most successful people have developed simple routines to save mental effort and boost productivity. They use the same routine daily – and even dress in similar clothes.
- Learn to take notes about every phone call and meeting – write it down!
- Make action lists and prioritised To Do lists – one of the best productivity boosters known
- Write your daily ‘To Do’ list the night before and revise in the morning
- Decide your Morning Routine – food, exercise, hygiene and mental preparation.
- Get up early and energise with a walk or your favourite exercise
- Night-time routine – hygiene, reading, review and planning
- Learn meditation or mindfulness, how to touch type or speed read
8. Get More ORGANISED and clear the CLUTTER
Being messy and disorganised causes mental fatigue, loss of time and is dangerous.
Lift your Productivity by being in control of your surroundings and you’ll be more successful too.
- Spring clean! – Reduce your clutter & Sort out your mess – Decide what to keep
- Stop being a hoarder – store presentation & neatness counts. Get rid of that crap.
- Ask your staff for ideas on how to change the layout of your workshop to improve productivity and get a shadow tools board with colour coded tools for each area.
- Clear your mind and get it written down – Keep a diary or journal of all your activities, meetings and phone calls. Review and summarise how you spend your time.
- Handle paper just once – get a tickler file system – try the “43 folder” system
- Get your finances and office under control – read the helpful book called “Paper Flow” by Marianne Benney
9. Avoid Overwhelm by learning to SAY “NO” to non-core activities and work
When you start out you tend to please others and take any work that comes along. As your business grows you need to be more selective and cease doing some things. Stop doing low value tasks and avoid work that is too difficult, too painful or low in profit.
Learn how to be more assertive and decide to what you really want. Become a niche specialist and develop systems for your favourite types of work.
- Find someone else to do that type of work and refer it to other providers
- Be honest and upfront early when saying No -Don’t be vague or delay
- Say ‘Thank you’ for the offer and smile then offer an alternative person or solution
- Practise saying ‘NO!’ with feeling and compassion “I am sorry we don’t do X…”
- Reward your efforts – Take time off to relax – regular breaks and small holidays
10. Harness TECHNOLOGY & ONLINE TOOLS to boost productivity
You have already invested a lot of money into great technology tools that can save you lots of time and make you lots more money.
Learn to make the most of your software – some of the most valuable things you can do include sending SMS reminders, analysing your stock performance and shift slow moving stock, adjust your pricing matrix regularly.
- Learn to use your software or CRM better – attend a workshop or webinar!
- Use Your Smartphone and Apps
- Take phone photos of happy customers and new work and upload to your website or facebook.
- Make some Videos with your phone – video a process, get a customer testimonial, make a promotional video
- Learn some Microsoft office tips like email templates (Quick parts) or Google Docs
ABOUT THE BLOG AUTHOR – David Staughton CSP
David Staughton is an Award-winning Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), past board member of Professional Speakers Australia and advisor to a large Australian speakers bureau.
David is also a successful serial entrepreneur and an expert on Future-Proofing your Business
Dave’s most popular small business TOPICS include:
- Future-Proofing your Business – Embracing Change
- Living a Better Life by Working Smarter
- Building your Loyal “A Team” of Engaged Leaders
- Making More All Year Round – Seasonal Success
- Find the Hidden Value in your Business
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