4 Things Every Manager Should Teach Their Employees for Increasing Productivity
I don’t know how many department managers view themselves as teachers; in many situations, the general sense is that the manager is there to answer questions, delegate tasks, handle crises, and give performance reviews twice a year. But if managers also viewed themselves as teachers to the other employees in their department, instructing and encouraging them in becoming more effective at their jobs, the overall productivity level and success of that department would increase by leaps and bounds over time. Now, the specifics will depend entirely upon each department’s responsibilities, but in general, here are four things that every employee should learn how to do, and in most cases, it will be up to the manager to teach them.
Most jobs in corporate America today involve more ideas, projects, and tasks than any one person could handle while maintaining sanity. The tyranny of the urgent is forever sabotaging the more important items on our to-do lists. The result—heightened stress levels, missed opportunities, mediocre production, and a negative impact on the company’s bottom line. If you as the department manager can help your employees learn to intuitively prioritize their responsibilities, you will find it makes a dramatic difference in their morale and productivity, and the CEO will be amazed at the performance metrics for your department.
Of course, not every person functions optimally with the exact same organization system, but every person NEEDS an organization system to help them do their job with excellence. This includes physical items and digital ones (i.e., their email inbox should be just as organized as their desk). Poor organization leads to stress and frustration when items of importance cannot be recovered at a moment’s notice, so every good organization system needs to be consistent and easy to use. Otherwise it will be just as useless as no organization system at all, or it will be quickly abandoned for the old way of doing things. Help your employees come up with user-friendly procedures, and the minutes and hours saved will quickly add up!
Distractions are more costly than most people realize, because it is practically impossible to complete a project of any length when other tasks or coworkers’ requests keep pulling you away. To touch on the prioritization point again, I usually find that those small tasks seem urgent at the moment but are not nearly as important as the project I’m working on. If you want to see increased productivity from your employees, teach them to guard their focus time when they have projects to complete by eliminating all distractions other than emergencies.
Delegating and Declining
The to-do list can quickly grow out of control if you try to accomplish everything on your own. There must come a point where you say to the powers that be, “No, I cannot accept that project,” or “I must have assistance to complete this task by the deadline.” Many of your employees will be afraid to decline a request or ask for assistance when they are overwhelmed for fear of appearing lazy or incompetent. You must quell that fear by teaching them to know their limits and stay within them. This is also a great opportunity to help them learn how to offer alternative solutions for the problem or project at hand.
Truthfully, none of us can manage time, no matter how hard we try, and no one is given more than anyone else. However, learning to manage one’s action steps with self-discipline and consistency will result in greatly enhanced productivity and reduced stress levels. If you as the department manager can teach and reinforce these 4 concepts to your employees, it will dramatically affect the success of the department as a whole and the company’s bottom line. For specific instruction and ideas on this whole process, I highly recommend using resources from the David Allen Company that are based on his book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.