In small companies, everyone wears many hats. Now that you have a larger team (and departments with defined functions), you can embrace the saying, many hands make light work. Unfortunately, another saying, too many cooks spoil the broth, can also apply to your team and effect your team productivity.
As your company continues to grow, you have to adjust your organizational thinking to maintain a productive and engaged team.
Here are 6 steps that can increase team productivity while reducing stress.
1. Define work more precisely
Just because programming and technical support jobs both deal with computers does not mean that they are interchangeable. Many businesses attempt to put uncomfortable hats on their employees when they have insufficient staffing resources, but doing so does not lead to greater productivity.
Define employees’ jobs based on their skill sets and your needs, so that you can remove the multiple hat racks from their workspaces. Their work will be more efficient when they focus on a well-defined purpose. And, they will work together more synergistically to get the job done without stepping on each other’s toes.
2. Include meaning in every job
A well-defined job does not automatically translate to repetitiveness and boredom. Most employees fare better if they get a little variety, or at least the chance to engage their minds on a regular basis and grow in their jobs.
For example, why engage a wordsmith solely as a proofreader when that person has the skills to really make your reports and proposals better by copyediting? From there, it’s only one more step to actually write those documents — probably better than most people on your team.
3. Strike the right balance between people and technology
It’s one thing to do a job where technology has removed repetitive tasks and made jobs safer. It’s another thing to show up for work only to find a robot sitting at your desk. Frankly, we haven’t reached the second scenario (well, for most jobs, anyway) — and robots aren’t yet ready to replace professional service positions.
So, introduce new technology with due care and consideration, and listen to your team’s suggestions. They will tell you when certain repetitive tasks are boring them to tears. They may even ask you to look for technological solutions that reduce these issues while probably increasing efficiency. Get them involved and they will welcome high-tech advances.
4. Choose technology that turns employees into teams
As your team continues to grow, coordination becomes a real issue. This is where technology can really shine. Software such as Slack and Microsoft Teams introduces the concept of a shared workspace. By providing remote teams with a single place to go to find everything from meeting notes to software tools, you eliminate the frustration of replicated tasks, while ensuring that the team operates on the most current information.
5. Recognize the importance of R&R
Each person on your team naturally represents an opportunity for greater output. But, it also represents more opportunities for burnout and even conflict, unless you incorporate some escape valves into your company culture. Start by encouraging vacation time (sans business calls or texts). It also means relaxing your attitude toward workplace diversions — within reason.
One recent study of 600 workers and senior office managers indicated that they may be using about 42 minutes per day on personal online tasks, typically on personal smartphones. 42 minutes quickly add up to a significant productivity reduction. That said, an occasional step away from work can also have a recharging effect that increases productivity.
Communicate a reasonable policy on this issue to show that you will not drop the bomb on a remote workforce using work time to conduct a bit of personal business. You might even consider directing employees to your favorite free online crossword, Sudoku or other mind puzzles to combine refreshing entertainment with a bit of brain exercise.
6. Cross-train with purpose
As long as emergencies, vacation and the flu season exist, employees always need to wear other hats from time to time. But, now that you have a deeper team, you can use strategies to formalize the process, make it less stressful, and provide welcomed learning opportunities.
Prepare them for sudden needs by cross-training into compatible jobs. If you can train them for higher-level jobs, they will welcome the potential opportunity for future advancement.
Larger team productivity abounds when you break small business habits.
It’s natural for growing businesses to retain some of the habits that became inbred when they were small. Some of those practices might still apply, but you need to review them regularly. Always look for ways to take advantage of capitalizing on the advantages presented by more employees. Your business, employees and customers will all profit.
Carol Roth is a radio host on WGN, a CNBC TV contributor, a ‘recovering’ investment banker & a bestselling author of The Entrepreneur Equation. You can find her on Twitter @CarolJSRoth or at www.CarolRoth.com. She also has an action figure made in her likeness.