Enterprise-level productivity improvement is a direct result of efficient management. As such, it should be a primary objective and responsibility of company executives.
Facilitating the conditions for better performance is central to productivity management. Subsequently, productivity improvement is a process of change; therefore, leadership need to be reading and willing to manage these developments. This means motivating staff, nurturing cooperation, and encouraging a positive attitude. Therefore, it is important to plan and coordinate the scope and speed of change across business functions, including human resources, corporate culture, training, infrastructure, and product development. This managed change will promote organizational buy-in which will support productivity improvement, as well as technological advancement.
Often, change is not a choice; in spite of resistance or reluctance, change will be essential to company growth. Therefore, it is essential that executives examine their management style. For instance, managers should carefully calculate risk and take responsibility for their decisions, alongside regular consultation and collaboration with their team. As such, the best management styles are a synthesis of an authoritative and democratic approach, deploying each in a different measure depending on the situation. With this in mind, this article discusses how management can facilitate an effective productivity improvement strategy for their organization. With these tools, C-levels can seek to motivate employees, drive continuous improvement, and boost their bottomline.
1. Outline a strategic plan
Before executives can examine the fine detail of their productivity strategy, they need to outline the overarching strategic direction of their organization. For example, do C-levels have a five-year plan? What are their long term revenue targets? With this framework, strategists can identify how the productivity improvement plan will align with the firm’s broader goals. As a result, the plan should be a ‘living document.’ This means that the company’s strategy should be a dynamic, evolving document, not something that is written up, presented in a meeting, then buried in a drawer.
2. Perform a productivity audit
Once a strategic framework is in place, executives need to gain a deeper understanding of their aims and objectives. This means that they need to analyze business processes across departments to identify where improvements could be made. This is a far-reaching project, so it is often good to perform as part of an organizational process review. During this process, management should identify bottlenecks, inefficient processes, manual processes, or underutilized technologies. As part of this analysis, it is essential to conduct interviews with key team members. After all, who will know more about where process improvements can be made than those involved?
Once departments have identified inefficiencies, management should ascertain whether or not these issues affect the entire organization. As such, solutions need to designed with the whole business in mind. From this point, executives should put together a list of critical areas for improvement in order of priority. When writing this list, it is crucial that organizational goals are at the forefront of the process. For example, if a company’s goals are associated with manufacturing put through, then it is inadvisable to focus on customer service workflow when the issues are in the production line.
3. Research and develop solutions
The research phase can be very simple or extremely complex. For instance, during the productivity audit, management might have noticed that similar issues are occurring across departments. Therefore, it is likely there is a single solution for every function. However, it is also possible that things could be more complicated; for instance, each department may have operational nuances that cannot be ignored. In this scenario, management may require outside consultation or assistance. For example, businesses often hire external IT consultants to examine whether or not their productivity improvements could be improved through IT infrastructure or automation. Equally, the company will also have to ensure that their staff receive proper training and professional development support.
Once the team has identified solutions, they need to review budgets and allocate resources. This will refine the list into a series of actions to implement in the short term. When rolling out new systems, it is essential that management obtain full employee buy-in. Otherwise, it is likely that people will quickly revert to old habits. A good way to manage this process is to create incentives. By rewarding high performing employees, management can nurture a productive and positive environment. However, be wary of encouraging employees to compete to much; it is also important to nurture a supportive and collaborative environment. Too much competition can stymie productivity as channels of communication break down.
5. Continuously improve
Once a system is in place, management need to review the success of their strategy. To effectively measure productivity improvement, executives should create a formal review process where employees can share feedback. Even if there is marked improvements across departments, it is likely that there is still room for improvement. Assess what these are, how processes can be further enhanced, and how business processes can perform even better. Tracking productivity is essential to cultivating a climate of continuous improvement. For instance, staff should monitor time against tasks, then compare against various variables to generate performance reports. By quantifying successes, management can work towards constantly enhancing business functions. Ultimately, these benefits will be passed on to the customer – which is the end goal of any productivity strategy.
Why productivity improvement is about more than doing more with less
Doing more with less is a key imperative of today’s business environment – and this is unlikely to change anytime soon. However, productivity improvement is not just about performing more tasks with less time – it is about developing a strategic approach to working smarter. By implementing a dynamic productivity improvement plan, management can ensure their corporate culture is thriving. Although achieving these goals will require time, thought, and effort, carrying out these audits dramatically enhances organizational focus. As a result, companies can ensure they are motivating every employee to work at the highest possible level, extracting maximum value from minimal resources and driving continuous improvement. A consequence of this will be greater return on investment and a healthier bottomline.