It’s the beginning of a new year, and like many of you, I find this is a great time to jump-start my resolve to accomplish more and better — whether that means de-cluttering my desk, better managing my inbox or taking a hike to re-focus.
Of course, making a New Year’s resolution to improve productivity can be extremely beneficial in the workplace, as well. We all know employee productivity is essential for driving revenue, but the U.S. Department of Labor reported in August that labor productivity growth in the non-farm business sector is lower now than during any of the previous 10 business cycles.
Is productivity a challenge where you work? If so, here are three concrete ways you can start improving your team’s performance:
- Set clear goals and chart progress. In my experience, people become motivated when they know: 1) what’s expected of them and 2) how they’re doing. Designing goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time-based) is a good first step. Then you need to follow through with performance assessments aligned with those goals. Feedback from these assessments helps employees know where they stand and better understand what they can do to improve.
- Present information how it’s needed. Research shows that the more senses you have engaged, the better you learn and make decisions. That means it pays to think carefully about the ways you communicate with your team. Are you encouraging people to interact with the information you’re presenting, or is it simply washing over them, slide after slide?
I recently heard author and motivational speaker John Serpa discuss an interesting example that illustrates the importance of presenting data in ways that “catalyze innovation.” Serpa maintains that the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy in 1986 might have been averted if scientific findings about the O-rings had been presented differently to NASA decision makers on the day of the launch.
As he says, “There was nothing wrong with the scientists’ data — it was correct. Ego played no part in the decision, either. It was the way the data was communicated.”
That’s a powerful message, one that has made me re-think my approach to presentations.
- Improve access to visual collaboration tools. Conventional collaborative technologies such as email, conference calls and digital whiteboards just don’t cut it anymore. Why? Because in today’s complex, global marketplace, context matters, and the collaboration tools you use must be able to simultaneously leverage it all: content, voice, video, etc.
In short, today’s new solutions enable you to build bridges between employees—however those employees best work and wherever they happen to be located. Are your team members sitting in the next cubicle, or are they in an office in another country? It shouldn’t matter. New research from Forrester Consulting found that 83 percent of survey participants said they can be productive regardless of time or location if they have the right collaboration tools. Unfortunately, only 26 percent of the workers polled believe their company provides the tools they need to collaborate successfully.
How would your business results improve if your team could collaborate more effectively?
Keep a watchful eye on employee productivity, and you’ll reap the benefits. After all, as Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman wrote back in the 1990s, “Productivity isn’t everything, but in the long-run, it’s almost everything.”
This article originally appeared on Cio.com/IDG Contributor Network on February 1, 2017