Boosting Productivity For Your Small Business In 2016
How does a business – big or small – achieve the ‘holy grail’ that is maximum productivity from its resources? While larger organizations can sometimes absorb some degrees of inefficiency, a smaller business, with its usually leaner structure, cannot. Ironically, some of the innovations that make life and work easier can, in themselves, become time wasters and impede productivity.
Perhaps it’s time to take a step back and conduct a type of ‘productivity audit’ so see where improvements can be made.
Becoming less reactive
This goal covers time management areas such as dealing with email.
Email is a tremendous time trap if one isn’t careful. A classic approach here is to restrict checking email to specific parts of the day – unless it really is urgent (someone has told you they’re sending an important item by a certain time, say). Most senders shouldn’t expect an instant response to their email so don’t feel pressured to deliver one since it’ll just force you to break off from another task.
The same applies to personal interruptions such as people stopping by your desk or office to discuss something. While you don’t want to make people feel intimidated by approaching you, a culture of ‘checking if it’s convenient’ to discuss something right now should be encouraged.
Meetings provide tremendous potential for time wasting. Generally, too many are called and they usually last too long.
As with the old World War II slogan “is your journey really necessary?” perhaps amend to “is this meeting really necessary?” If so, agree on a time frame and stick to it.
Proper goal setting
It’s not as simple as setting, say, a profit goal and leaving it at that. The main goals need to be properly identified and defined and then broken down into smaller and smaller goals.
This way, it becomes easier to keep on track and you can ask yourself “is this activity helping achieve this sub-goal?” One big goal in isolation can appear intimidating, and some people’s reaction may be to think “that’s too onerous” causing them to become demotivated. Use software if necessary to track tasks and monitor workloads.
Smaller goals can break an annual goal down to quarterly, monthly, weekly and even daily goals which can actually help motivate people and make the overarching goals appear more achievable.
This is the way to tackle any project in business and, indeed, in life. Take learning to drive as an example. If you’ve never driven a car before, passing a test can seem very daunting. Yet, when you break it down into smaller steps you can chip away at your overall goal in a much more manageable way. Getting a provisional licence, brushing up on the skills you need on and off the road, booking lessons and setting dates for the driving theory test and practical test are all important milestones towards the main goal. Apply that logic to business tasks to make them much easier to handle.
Handling staff is a major part of achieving good productivity. Generally, people respond well if they feel valued, so taking a genuine interest in their roles in the business can make a big difference instead of them just feeling like a cog in contributing to your bottom line.
Helping them to understand how their contribution contributes to the overall goals of the company – in other words, helping them feel properly included – works wonders.
Avoid false economies
While saving money and getting full use out of equipment is important, beware of productivity suffering. For example, outdated IT equipment could hinder productivity if it’s too slow or if your networking is inefficient and causing outages and slowdowns; invest in beefing it up.
The above are some productivity ideas. Remember the general idea that often 80% of results come from 20% of activities, so overall it’s a matter of accentuating the latter.