Though I’m on the road a lot, I love the days when I work from my office. I get so much from my staff – inspiration, constructive criticism, and an excitement that only comes from pulling together to accomplish great things. But we all know that putting people together in a workspace often leads to serious time black holes – conflicts, gossip, and confusion that eat away at productivity. Here are my eight tips for keeping you and your staff on track:
- Institute a daily huddle. I run my daily huddle standing up. People don’t settle in with a cup of coffee and notepad for doodling. I cover the day’s objectives and challenges, and we get right back to work. It’s not a gab session, and it’s not interactive. I transmit critical information to keep us on the same page, and we get right back to work.
- Maintain 360 communication. Though I don’t use my huddle for gathering information from my staff, keeping lines of communication open is critical for eliminating confusion. Sometimes I’m the problem; if I haven’t clearly delineated responsibilities and goals, I need one of my staff to let me know what needs clarification. Keep your door and your ears open.
- Manage conflict. Conflict is inevitable. You can’t avoid it altogether, which means you must actively manage it. Watch for inner-office rivalries and disagreements and step in to diplomatically resolve conflict when it’s necessary. Ignoring problems can result in bigger blowups later on.
- Eliminate chronic problems. The 80-20 rule holds true when it comes to problem staff: 80 percent of your problems are caused by 20 percent of your staff. Warn and then weed out the folks disrupting your company’s progress.
- Trust your staff. If you realize you’re dealing with a mountain of questions from staff who are afraid of making the wrong move, then it could be the stakes are too high. You have to realize that mistakes will occur, and you will benefit from creating a climate in which your employees learn when it’s okay to take a chance.
- Get the right people doing the right things the right way. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and taking a step back to observe how your office runs can highlight staff members who aren’t in their ideal positions. Shuffling responsibilities can make your company far more efficient.
- Give your staff the pride of ownership. If your employees see a personal benefit from improving the bottom line, they’re far more likely to give it their all. Profit sharing and phantom equity can be powerful motivators. You can also include an update on the company’s health as part of your daily huddle to keep your staff focused on the ultimate mutual goal.
- Praise your staff publicly. Not only do you want to reinforce the good behavior of your stellar staff members, but you also want to make sure you’re not spending time publicly addressing undesirable behavior. Praise in public, and chastise in private. Great work earns your staff recognition and a sense of satisfaction.
Finally, here’s a bonus tip: make your workplace fun. Now, don’t get me wrong: We work hard, and in fact I’ve instituted library hours in the office – chunks of time when it’s all business and we work quietly. But during break time, you might walk in on a nerf gun battle or trashcan basketball. We work hard, and we take the time to blow off steam so we can focus better when we return to our desks.