Think of the three best employees in your office. Go ahead and take a few seconds… Okay, now name the three most productive employees in your office. Again, take your time.
Did the same people come to mind?
Productivity is what separates those who succeed at small business management – or anything, really – from those who don’t. It’s the difference between running your business or your business running you, merely doing things or getting things done.
And even though some people have a knack for being productive, it’s not a trait you either have or you don’t. Productivity is like any other skill – you can teach it, learn it and get better at it.
Here are 5 employee productivity tips for efficient small business management.
Tip #1: Don’t be a Slave to Email
We all know the basics, but not everyone knows how to use email efficiently to prevent it from becoming a constant distraction.
Even though people appreciate fast replies, it’s not generally expected. Encourage employees to turn off their message notification, in order to stay focused on the task at hand and get to the inbox later. Checking the inbox 2-4 times per day – as opposed to clicking back and forth every time a new message arrives – is much more efficient.
Setting company guidelines for email replies may seem trivial, but it’s absolutely necessary in creating productive lines of communication. For example, a 24 hour window for replies, depending on your business, sets expectations for sending and receiving emails.
Tip #2: Use technology that’s right for managing your small business
Options aren’t an issue when it comes to technology. The trick is finding solutions that:
- Fit within your budget
- Give you a return on your investment
- Provide capabilities you don’t currently have, like automation or added visibility
- Are simple to use and offer support when needed
- Work with your existing technology
We’ve all used technology that is more trouble than it’s worth. However, the right solution can save your team hours in manual effort. The right expense management software not only decreases the hours spent on creating and approving expense reports, it allows your team more time to sell, brainstorm, strategize or create. The right technology can be a small business management blessing.
Tip #3: Make room for the “big rocks”
Steven Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, recommends thinking of your day as a bucket. When you fill your bucket with sand and pebbles (emails and reactive tasks), you don’t leave room for the creative, mission critical work you should be doing, but don’t.
If you wait for your bucket to empty before including the big rocks, it won’t happen. You need to make time. Covey recommends identifying and prioritizing big rocks first. Then, you can let can let the sand and pebbles fill in around them.
Tip #4: A happy office is a productive office
People are happier when they’re free to work how they want. Effective small business managers are great at setting very specific expectations, yet allowing employees to freely choose how to best achieve objectives.
And sometimes being productive means taking time to be unproductive. Group outings and other team activities can break up the monotony and keep things fresh. Encourage employees to take their lunch breaks way from their desk or step outside for a 20 minute walk mid-afternoon.
Tip #5: Help Your Employees Prioritize
Everyone likes a team player, so your employees will often say yes to projects they may not have the bandwidth to take on. As a small business manager, it’s important to help your employees choose the projects they should be working on and which are best to turn over to another team member.
Over tasking employees with no clear prioritization can cause undue stress and snowball into a lack of productivity from being overwhelmed. Meet with your employees to create a list of the key projects for which they are responsible, gain an understanding of how much time they will take and then prioritize based on business needs.
Want to keep your employees and yourself running like a well-oiled machine? It's simple! Try eliminating the headache of time-consuming expense reports. Check out our step-by-step guide on how to implement a new expense management system for your business.