Want to increase productivity? An Employee Engagement Strategy is a good place to start.

Businesses with an effective employee engagement strategy will be rewarded with greater levels of innovation; increased commitment from employees and, ultimately, better productivity that will impact directly on business performance.

Examples of positive employee engagement practices include:

  • Shared decision-making
  • The opportunity for all people to influence the planning process
  • A robust approach to communicating
  • An open flow of information
  • The development of effective leaders and managers

For this article we thought we would focus a bit more on the people aspect and look at how workplace behaviours and relationships impact on employee engagement levels, which in turn affect the productivity of your team. Here are some of our thoughts on the fundamentals that lie behind a great employee engagement strategy.

Reciprocity

At the heart of the employment relationship is reciprocity. If employees believe that they are supported by their employer (and their line manager) in getting what they want out of work beyond just money, they will respond with positive behaviour.

The right person for the right job

Creating a fit between the needs of the role and the needs of the individual person will help to build a culture which is driven by supportive behaviours that are good for performance and productivity.

Competence & Capability

Make sure that managers have a good understanding of what their team members’ individual competencies and capabilities are. Giving individuals the opportunity to use their skills to the best of their ability will give them great satisfaction whilst the business will gain value by making the lost of them.

Encourage Self-determination

Enable your people to make decisions for themselves at a level appropriate to their role and responsibilities.  Allow individuals to initiate and regulate their own actions whilst ensuring line managers step up to their role of supporting their team members.  It’s about creating a good level of trust within your business, i.e. does the manager trust the team member to do the job?  Does the team member feel trusted?

Impact

Make sure that your people understand the impact they have on business performance as a whole.  At all levels they should be able to describe the contribution they make and the important part they play in the success of the organisation.

 

If you’ve recently started to develop your employee engagement strategy or are looking to revive your existing one the main thing to remember is that it doesn’t need to involve expensive investment or developing a whole new set of policies and procedures. It does however need wholehearted support from your Leadership Team through their leadership and strategic vision, and the active buy-in of effective line managers.

At INSPIRING, we’ve helped thousands of organisations with Employee Engagement issues over the last 15 years and we’d be happy to share our experience with you.

Call us on 0800 612 3098 to find out more or email info@inspiring.uk.com or get in touch using the form.

4 ways to encourage better teamwork in your business

In a teamwork culture, team members work collaboratively to further their team’s objectives, perhaps even placing these objectives ahead of their own individual goals. Organisations where employees work alone or in silos will arguably become less productive over time compared to organisations that encourage teamwork.

The message should come from the top, with your Senior leadership team communicating the clear expectation that teamwork and collaboration are expected. However, there are some key issues which should be dealt with as a team leader or line manager, in order to maintain a positive teamwork culture. We’ve highlighted 4 ways that you can encourage better teamwork, based on both our experience of working with organisations on their employee engagement and leadership development strategies and by looking at trends within the employee surveys that we’ve conducted for our clients.

Leaders are only as good as their teams (and vice versa!)

As a leader or manager, you are setting the tone for the rest of the employees in the workplace and your positive attitude and energy will help to motivate and inspire your team. There is lots of good advice out there on how to be a good team leader but I’ll highlight a couple of issues that often come up in our clients’ survey results.

  1. Try to adopt a coaching approach rather than a ‘do as I do’ attitude, allowing team members to demonstrate what they can do without constant interference. Giving clear instruction without micro-managing will prove to your team members that you believe in their abilities and efforts.
  2. Consistency is key when it comes to managing your team. It’s impossible to build trust amongst your team is there’s perceived favouritism. Make sure team members feel they are treated fairly and equally, and take care not to exclude anyone from group decisions or activities. It seems obvious, but conduct team meetings on a regular basis and allow your team members the opportunity to volunteer or get involved with special projects or tasks.

Encourage open communication

Encouraging a culture of open communication will help develop great teamwork and will undoubtedly have a positive on your team’s overall performance. Communication is often an area which scores poorly in the Employee Surveys we conduct. In our experience, many employees often feel that they aren’t being listened to, whether it’s by their immediate managers or the senior leadership team. Your team should be confident in sharing their ideas, points of view, and feelings and not be afraid of doing so.

Let employees know their contribution is valued by introducing rewards for feedback and suggestions. Encouraging contributions from teams rather than individuals will help get team members working together more closely so make sure you offer rewards for collaborative efforts as much as recognising individual contributions and achievements.

Define and share responsibilities

The more clearly you define your team members’ roles and responsibilities, the more effectively they can meet expectations. The team as a whole, as well as individual team members, must have clearly defined responsibilities and objectives in order to focus their efforts. Your team should be encouraged to recognise each other’s role on the team, helping one another when needed. No one completely owns a work area or process all by themselves. As a manager, make sure your team members have opportunities to cross-train others in the team so that the team’s contribution to the business and service to customers is reliable and consistent. This inspirational quote sums up the point perfectly: “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” (Phil Jackson)

Resolve Conflicts

You spend many hours of your life at work, so getting along with your colleagues is very important. Conflict and ‘politics’ amongst team members is a major cause of stress at work. For example, our clients surveys have revealed instances such as team members arguing in public, others giving each other the silent treatment and where one person was left to do all the work while their team members allegedly ‘slacked off’. As a manager or team leader you’ll need to make sure that any tension is resolved as quickly as possible to prevent long-term damage to your team dynamic. Put in place a clear process for employees to raise and resolve issues, so they know they are being listened to, taken seriously and that issues will be dealt with fairly. Teams which include people that do not get along with one another will quickly collapse, become inefficient and unproductive.

 

Team up with INSPIRING…

At INSPIRING, we’ve helped thousands of organisations with Employee Engagement issues over the last 15 years and we’d be happy to share our experience with you. We are also an approved CMI centre providing leadership and management training at different levels with the option of CMI qualifications.

Call us on 0800 612 3098 to find out more or email info@inspiring.uk.com or get in touch using the form.

4 key ways to increase personal productivity

In both your professional and personal life, productivity has its place. But why is productivity important?

From a business perspective, productivity is the efficiency in which a company runs. However, while productivity is imperative from a company’s standpoint, personal productivity is just as crucial. By maximising your own productivity you are reprogramming your mentality towards tasks, which can then be applied to your professional work life.

Decide how long to work for

It can be very easy to begin a task, or even a work day, with the notion that you will work for as long as you can force yourself to concentrate, or for as long as you can. But by resigning yourself to work in this state of mind, you’ll find yourself often looking at the clock and willing the time to go faster. Once you decide how long to work for, commit to it. As a result of this you’ll find that the first few hours of the day go by much faster – and you’re spending much less time clock watching.

For example, if your work day is 8 hours long – commit to producing a worthwhile work output for 8 hours. Not only will time go a lot faster because you’re focusing on your work but you’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment. Once you know how much time you’ve assigned yourself to complete tasks in, plan what tasks you’re going to focus on and provide time allocation for each piece of work. Assigning one hour for a task to be completed in a high standard means that you can complete 8 similar tasks by the end of the day.

If you need help, ask

Asking for help is often seen as a sign of weakness; this is why typically we avoid asking for assistance when we are struggling with a task. Rather than putting yourself under pressure to try and complete a task that you don’t understand, finding someone to help you is much more effective. It presents you as willing to visit various options in order to produce worthwhile results. Asking for advice or assistance can save you time and resources. Plus, it reduces the chances of having to begin the work again.

Know when to take a break

Breaks are important for your brain, as well as your wellbeing. Productivity is about working to your best capability to produce a high-quality work output. However, by not giving your body and mind the rest that they deserve, you ultimately end up reducing your productivity. Working continuously for hours at maximum productivity is a fail-safe way to exhaust yourself. Alternatively, try working in shorter bursts to ensure that you are not tiring yourself out, and to help you achieve maximum amounts of efficiency. Giving yourself a ten minute break every few hours is sure to help clear your mind, making you ready to work productively once more.

Prepare for the next day

At the end of your work day, or after completing your tasks, try to spend half an hour planning the next day. Be realistic about what you want to achieve, and do any research or organising that you may need to do. By preparing yourself in advance for the next day, you ensure that the time you spend working is entirely on the tasks you have set yourself, rather than on unnecessary efforts. By providing yourself with an agenda you also leave your brain free to think about more important things that need your attention.

 

How do you make yourself more productive?

 

How to Improve Business Performance and Productivity with the Deming Cycle

One of the most straight forward ways of being able to accurately plan for continual improvement would be with the Deming Cycle.

In every organisation, the need for improving business performance should be the driving force behind the action that most leaders take. Within the business world, if you are not consistently improving performance within your organisation you are stagnating. Stagnation results in other organisations bypassing you and increasing their market share. Therefore, the ability to continually improve performance should be a never-ending goal.  The Deming Cycle is one of the most straight forward ways of being able to accurately plan for continual improvement. The Deming Cycle can also help increase productivity as well as improve performance in general. This is because, when organisations focus on goals that they wish to achieve, they usually begin the process by looking for possible operational improvements, thus increasing productivity as well as improving organisational performance.

The Deming Cycle was developed by W. Edwards Deming (1986) and within it he created a simple premise for predicting the results of effort to implement improvements. He put forward four logical steps that loop continually to help drive better performance.

Deming CyclePlan

In the planning stage, the organisation must establish what objectives are needed to be met to create the desired goals. It is in this stage where the organisation must analyse their current position accurately to be able to correctly measure where they are, compared to where they want to be.

Do

This stage of the cycle requires the organisation begin to implement their plan and start the processes of behaviour changes. At this point, the implementation of the plan should only be carried out within a small section of the overall business. The organisation should also be collecting data to help them evaluate the process in the next steps.

Check

The ‘Check’ stage is when the data collected from the ‘Do’ stage is measured and compared against the expected goals within the ‘Plan’ stage. It is at this stage when you should be looking for any differences between what has happened and what the original goals were within the ‘Plan’ section. You should also be able to identify if there were any deviations from your plan and what was implemented, as this could account for lack of success in the ‘Do’ stage. This should lead to the understanding of whether or not the goals set in the ‘Plan’ section are attainable. If they cannot be reached, the process may need to end here and started again.

Act

Within this stage the organisation first needs to identify that all the other stages were carried out correctly, i.e. the ‘Check’ stage identified that the ‘Plan’ stage was correctly implemented within the ‘Do’ stage. Secondly, it needs to be confirmed that the outcomes have resulted in improvements on what had come before. If so, the process can then implemented throughout the whole organisation. This new and improved process would then become the required standard that the organisation must meet.

 

The Deming Cycle can be used and reused for almost any activity within an organisation, meaning the organisation is constantly reviewing its practices and processes and therefore continuously improving performance and productivity.

10 Alternatives to Training Courses for SMEs

With the business world being as competitive as it is, employers are discovering that the main thing that can help differentiate them is their people. Developing, or ‘up-skilling’, employees is now more important than ever. Gone are the days where training courses focused upon just the necessities and regulations of the job role; we are now seeing more forward-thinking employers who are looking to uncover talent within their people which, in time, will give them the advantage over their competitors.

We know that making sure your employees are up to speed with what is required of them is vital, so training in that respect will always be a necessity. However, with some training courses coming in at a high cost, SMEs could find it hard to find the budget for broader training and development, often having to weigh up the cost of training courses against other necessities in their annual budget.

With this in mind, we’ve put together some alternatives to training courses that SMEs could investigate that might help implement learning and development and nurture talent at a lower cost.

Coaching

This is effective if the employee has a specific objective or area of development that they need to target.

Mentoring

An effective technique when there is already an individual within the organisation with the expertise to develop potential. This enables transfer of knowledge and ways of working.

Shadowing

A great way of helping an employee explore different aspects of the business. It is beneficial to watch someone else demonstrating what is required of them, then reflecting on what they have learned. They can then discover the effectiveness of their ways of working and even make suggestions for improvements, which could be mutually beneficial. This could be a reciprocal arrangement whereby one colleague shadows another in turn, allowing for feedback on both.

Expanding Roles

By expanding an employee’s current role, they are likely to develop longer term aspirations and invest more into the organisation. Also, they will come to realise what areas they need to improve in and, given the opportunity and with support, can start to address these.

Project Roles

Putting an individual forward for different project roles helps to broaden their perspective, whilst encouraging interaction with new areas of the business can aid their development. It may even result in hidden skills being identified.

Practical Learning

If an individual has been given a new task or responsibility, they may be able to learn on the job providing they are properly supported. It is important however that they have the confidence to ask managers and colleagues for support and advice whilst they are learning.

Distance and E-Learning

There are specific college and online courses, some of which are free, where the individual learns in their own time and at their own pace. These can include accredited courses, which build towards a qualification.

Volunteering

Giving employees the opportunity and time off to volunteer may help to develop existing skills and learn new ones. Volunteering could help people build their confidence, as it is a less pressurised environment. It may also lead to networking opportunities.

Blended Learning

This is where the focus is not on one development area but a variety. By using Blended Learning, it gives the employee a mixture of different activities to develop many skills over a short space of time.

Media

There is a wealth of information available on platforms such as YouTube and watching specific programmes can help gain useful knowledge.

Books and publications

In the modern world there is a neglect of written texts. These books and other resources hold a valuable knowledge and theories that can help employees develop. However, for convenience and accessibility, there are often PDF copies of these resources available.

Other Notables

Membership of professional bodies, work placements, sabbaticals, sideways moves and job swaps.

 

People development will always be needed if SMEs are to stay ahead of their competition. But we also know that funding for all these development activities is often limited, therefore thinking outside the box and using alternative methods of learning and development are definitely worth looking into.

Motivated employees mean greater productivity

Research shows that a motivated employee is far more productive than one who is not, therefore making sure your team feel happy and supported is not only ‘the right thing to do’, but it is also right for your business.

Everyone knows the difference between working with someone who is motivated and someone who is not. The extra commitment, enthusiasm, focus and productivity of a motivated person are obvious to see.

Research shows that a motivated employee is far more productive than one who is not, therefore making sure your team feel happy and supported is not only ‘the right thing to do’, but it is also right for your business.

So what should you do when the positive vibes are lacking and how should you deal with an unproductive member of your team? The answer is: you set about changing their attitude!
We’ve come up with a few of the ways in which you can support your employees to help them become more motivated and productive members of your team.

Give training where needed

Everyone hates not knowing what to do. Your employees are more likely to be productive when they understand what exactly is expected from them and they are given the training to perform such a task. Training gives confidence and confidence leads to employees that are productive.

Let your people shine

You’ve invested in training, spent time getting to know your team and have spotted some real potential – so don’t let it go to waste! Giving individuals the opportunity to use their skills to the best of their ability will give them great satisfaction whilst the business will gain value by making the lost of them.

Encourage self-determination

Enable your people to make decisions for themselves at a level appropriate to their role and responsibilities. Allow individuals to initiate and regulate their own actions whilst ensuring line managers step up to their role of supporting their team members. It’s about creating a good level of trust within your business, i.e. does the manager trust the team member to do the job? Does the team member feel trusted?

Be supportive

Make sure your employees know that, however you feel about them, you are willing to offer your support and stand up for them. If employees believe that they are supported by their employer (and their line manager) in getting what they want out of work beyond just money, they will respond with positive behaviour.

Make sure they know their contribution counts

Make sure that your people understand the impact they have on business performance as a whole. At all levels they should be able to describe the contribution they make and the important part they play in the success of the organisation.

 

Team up with INSPIRING…

If you want to increase productivity in your organisation, team up with INSPIRING. We can help you develop an effective employee engagement strategy, which will reward you with greater levels of innovation; increased commitment from employees and, ultimately, better productivity that will impact directly on your business’s performance.