In some situations, the concept of taking accountability for productivity and performance extends beyond your own job—especially when you find yourself in a leadership position—and team productivity becomes paramount. In situations like these, doing your job well also means helping others do their jobs better and more efficiently, so their performance dovetails with yours in a satisfyingly synergistic way. Carefully cultivated, the result can be a fruitful cycle of productivity, forming a positive feedback loop that expands into all aspects of the workflow process, making work life easier for all involved.
As a manager, you must constantly refine your organization’s workflow processes and streamline your systems. Actively pursue opportunities to eliminate nagging time bandits, frustrations, and productivity-sappers from your office systems every day. For example, my office manager, Jin, frequently received calls from our clients, asking her to send wording they could use to introduce me to audiences at speaking engagements. About 99% of the time, she had already sent the information to the client. Although her job is customer service, it can be frustrating and time-consuming to provide the same information again and again. I uncovered the problem one day when she joked about how a particular client chronically lost the information she had already sent—possibly the very reason the client had hired me in the first place.
We decided to post everything clients might need on our website, so they could help themselves to the information as necessary without involving her. Every time a customer requested information, we added it to the site. The next time we updated it, we proactively sent links to our clients telling them where they could find this information. Jin now fulfills far fewer manual client requests.
When a manager uses this kind of “I’m on your side” approach, the employee is less frustrated, and time is saved, ultimately increasing productivity and boosting organizational profitability. You also create value for clients and show employees you’re willing to listen to them and implement good ideas.
So at your next staff meeting, pose these three questions:
1. What are the three most mind-numbing, time-wasting hoops you jump through on a weekly basis? Carefully listen to the responses. Don’t get defensive or combative. Instead, write down everything people say and soak it in.
2. What time-draining procedures or activities do you find yourself doing more than three times a week? This question helps you identify the “debris” littering your co-workers’ high-speed highway, slowing them down repeatedly. You’ll also discover redundancy if multiple people do the same thing.
3. How can we help you get things done more quickly? Brainstorm ways to automate your systems and reduce wasted time, so you can all get your work done faster, leave the office earlier, and go home to your lives.
Accountability Action Step
Make it your goal to help people blast through time-wasting obstacles. By helping team members, you help yourself. Consider the innovative thinking that can take place, and how much more you can enjoy life, if you didn’t spend so much of it at work. Happy, well-rested people tend to be more productive than those worn to a nub by their responsibilities.