Being a manager or business owner you know that often the most challenging part of your job is spent trying to increase productivity. Times are not like they once were when workers could do their job almost autonomously and still produce like crazy. Some days you might even feel like you need a cattle prod to spark some energy into a few people.
Furthermore, your job is more complicated by the fact that many workers these days feel their pay should be based more on what they want than what they are actually worth, so they don’t often correlate the need to work more productively in order to achieve the pay scale they think they deserve just by showing up each day.
Yes, this all sounds a bit negative, but it is the sad fact of the times we live in. However, that is not to say that there aren’t still tools that you can put to use that can increase productivity. You just have to be a bit more creative now. What inspires one employee might not do anything for another one. You may need to take the time to really know those in your employ so that you can provide them with the incentive that will work for them.
Once you can get the ball rolling where they recognize that there is a carrot at the end of that line, they will often achieve more. And, if you provide them with not only the incentive, but help them envision the goals and tasks to get there, you’ll enjoy a win-win. You get higher productivity, hence more income, which puts you in the position to reward them accordingly.
There are plenty of different ways you can accomplish this, and even with all the high-tech methods available, there is still one old-school method that has been generally ignored yet is worth taking a look at. Provide and instruct your employees on the practice of using a three section planner. An ideal one has a cork section and two whiteboard sections so that the three steps of dreams, goals and tasks are well outlined and easy to visualize.
There are a number of ways in which you can incorporate these boards into your workplace depending on how your business operates. If you have already taken the step of developing a good business plan with clear objectives, it may be as simple as putting these in a visible location so that your employees see and understand what you are looking to accomplish.
Another way is to use a board for each project or job you have in progress. This would be a great way to handle a construction company, home improvement firm or the manufacture of large components. You could put a picture, drawing or rendering on the corkboard representing the finished project, the goal such as completion and/or phase dates on the second section and the various tasks needed to be accomplished on the third.
Yet another way to use these boards would be for setting up rewards. This would be useful in a sales situation where you want to encourage reaching not only minimum quotas but rewarding those that excel. An idea would be to have a board for various levels that have a pictorial representation of the reward in the first section, the goals that must be completed to earn it in the second, and some tips and tasks in the third for how to reach the goal. You could use this suggestion in practically any business where productivity rewards would help boost action.
Rewards do not have to be set up across the board. You can also provide a board for each of your employees and set a specific production goal for each of them. In this way you could customize it to what would mean the most to them. While you’d want to keep everyone’s rewards and workload somewhat the same levels to avoid dissentions (imagine if one person’s reward was a week off work and another just got one day, for example), by tailoring the reward you could see huge results. Your employees will appreciate that you took the time to consider them as individuals. If you have numerous employees and thus it is too challenging to learn what would motivate each person, you could also let them offer suggestions.
So, you’ve seen how you can set up rewards for individual efforts, but you could also use them to set up companywide goals and rewards. At one time or another you may have seen a charity use a display to indicate a goal and how much has been collected to fulfill it thus far. You can use this same technique to reach various goals where everyone in the company receives a reward if the achievement is met. For example, a car dealership could set a sales goal of 100 cars sold in a set period of time, with the reward a company-paid picnic or outing at a nearby recreational location. You could also use boards to set up department goals and rewards rather than companywide ones.
The use of goals and rewards can be used to discourage unacceptable actions as well. For example, you could set up rewards for those employees that never miss work or do not come in late. You could promote safety standards by rewarding X number of days without injuries, which is helpful in manufacturing facilities. Basically, whatever you want to encourage or discourage can be done with a 3-part dream>goal>task board.
Not only will you improve productivity for your company, but you’ll also be helping to develop a good work ethic in each person in your employ that will benefit them throughout their life. When you lead someone in the path they should go with an easy to understand map, you make it far easier for them to reach the right destination which is mutually beneficial.
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