I read this title in a couple of articles over the net and received it as the title of a webcast advertisement on my email. They all inspired me to write this post: “How to work smarter not harder”
Good question, some people think that if I force my team to work 80 hours a week and come to work over the weekend as well, then I am getting maximum productivity. Well, definitely not! what you are doing is wearing your team out and given sometime they will be frustrated and you will start suffering high turnover rates. Some will say but I am getting the productivity I need this way, well I assure you will for some time and then after a while quality will degrade and eventually you will lose it all.
If you really want to get the best out of your employees and ensure the best productivity with maintaining quality as well, what you really need is:
- Time Management Skills. If you are able to plan your time and your employees’ time well, you will be able to utilize it to the best within the 40 hours frame per week. Make sure to get rid of all the time wasters, like unnecessary phone calls, emails, walk in visitors, long meetings that have no clear agenda and all other things that are mostly distraction and waste of time.
- Treat employees as associates, let them help you brainstorm and come up with new ideas. Make them speak and contribute in decision making. You will be amazed by the amount of ideas they will give you on how to organize work and increase productivity.
- Kill procrastination and make sure things are done on time without delay.
- Put a strategy and system for everything. When employees are working without a clear strategy, without a know-how manual they just keep drifting until it is very hard to get them back on track. Everything has to lie under a clear business process with a clear workflow and everyone should know his role and how to communicate with colleagues. Bottlenecks and delays usually come when a job has to be done as a collaboration of work across departments. This is when delays and misunderstandings take place. This is why a clear workflow eliminates these problems and ensures on time productivity.
- A clear reward and punishment policy should be in place and executed firmly.
- Every now and then there should be something new that boosts the morale and motivates the staff.
- Use the right tools to produce the best results. Things like Microsoft Project, Excel or more sophisticated tools like Oracle. Whatever suits your needs and size of business; use it to make sure you are planning well.
- Plan … Plan … Plan…If you plan well and then execute, everything will go smoothly. But if you just start working without taking your time in planning then you will definitely end up wearing out your staff and asking them to work unpaid overtime to be able to meet the unrealistic deadlines you committed to.
- Load balancing is important as well. You have to be wise enough to know how to distribute the load over your team. It has to be done the right way and knowing the skills of your staff to give each one the kind of work he would excel at.
- Never say: “This is what the customer wants” as an excuse for your bad management skills. Customers usually do not really know what they want. You help them discover their needs. And you should help them understand as well what is realistic and what is not. If a customer asks for too much in a limited amount of time, you have to wisely guide him that this is not possible. And do not say, ‘This way I will lose the customer”… this is not true because I tried it myself and it works. You simply make your customer understand your way of working. If he wants more work in less amount of time then he has to pay more to enable you to add more staff to get the work done. Once he hears he has to pay more, he will agree to your time plan.
- Always remember that your employees are human beings who need their rest to refuel their engines. You can never ask your car to move without fueling the tank, it simply won’t…. so do not ask your employees to work non-stop without weekends or vacations, they will eventually die out.
I like this picture because it summarizes it all. If you keep overloading your employees this what will eventually happen … No offense meant to anyone 🙂
I think if we all work in a smarter way there will be enough time for all the work to be done and for employees to enjoy both their personal life and their work.