You can't force your team to become more productive, but some management strategies can enable efficiency by boosting employee morale and overall happiness. Happiness is increasingly being considered a metric for success in the business sphere, and research supports the idea that a happy worker is a more productive worker.
- Communicate clearly and concisely, the first time. When your team doesn't understand your instructions, either through a lack of clarity or a lack of context, they may be left fumbling to figure out what you want before finally asking for your help. Alternatively, they may forge ahead with their interpretation of your instructions. Either option wastes time and resources.
- Praise publicly, counsel privately. Everyone wants to feel like they're doing a good job at work. Public praise recognizes employees in front of their peers for stellar work, incentivizing teammates to step up their game. Keep counseling or development sessions behind closed doors, though. Calling out an employee error makes the whole group feel awkward or fearful, and may breed resentment in the employee whose miscue was broadcast.
- Acknowledge employees' distinct strengths and talents. Job security remains a top factor in employee happiness. Recognize each individual's motivators and design incentives, projects or job responsibilities to enable his or her best work.
- Give them a say. Hold regular strategy sessions to give employees a forum to share ideas; when appropriate, green-light and grant ownership of the idea. This creates emotional buy-in and helps employees contribute to the business' success in a novel way.
- Let go. High-performance employees aren't micromanaged: such hand-holding only slows them down or frustrates them because they don't feel trusted. Up the ante with strong incentives for efficient behavior to really enable efficiency. For an extreme example, note the difference in motive between Worker A, who is praised for making 10 widgets in eight hours, and Worker B, who is granted permission to leave work with a full day's pay as soon as he makes 10 perfect widgets. As with No. 3, tailor these incentives to your team's motivators.