An efficient workforce is a productive workforce, whether it is producing goods or providing services. Productivity is a crucial element of competitiveness. Here are some ways you can help your organization be more productive:
Examine how you are spending your work time. What percentage of it are you using for activities that relate directly to your objectives? If it's less than 95 percent, you may have a problem.
Set clear goals in consultation with your boss. If you supervise other staff members, share your goals with them. Break your goals down into individual objectives for each staff person.
Measure your and your staff's progress towards goals, recording and posting them for visual reinforcement.
Keep alert for new ideas that will help you and your colleagues work more efficiently, and then encourage their implementation.
See that people receive recognition for good ideas. Share any that you come across so that all the members of your team can benefit.
Do an evaluation of important processes on a regular basis, involving others who are part of the process. Everyone should document all the steps in his or her part of the process on a "map" (see Re-engineering Work Processes). Evaluate each step with the following questions:
Is this step necessary?
Does it duplicate other steps?
Does the step add value?
Does the step cause delays?
Concentrate on doing a job right, not quickly. Haste causes mistakes, which may make it necessary to do the job all over again. This can lead to poor service and lower productivity.
After you have found the best way to do a job, document the process and share your findings. If you have responsibility for other staff members, make sure they are trained to do the job correctly. Promote the most efficient procedures.
Support the idea of cross-training in your organization, and be the first to volunteer for training opportunities. Cross-training creates a more flexible team of workers who can substitute for or help each other when people are overloaded, sick, or on vacation.
Before you decide you need to replace a manual task with a machine-run one, work to make the process as simple and efficient as possible. Automation for its own sake can sometimes decrease productivity.
Avoid unnecessary meetings. Try to get business done through informal stand-up sessions in the office or on the shop floor. Keep these to five or ten minutes.
Reconsider your paperwork. Ask yourself these questions:
Is anybody reading it?
Does anyone need the information?
Are the data it contains useful for making decisions?
If you answered no to any of the questions, work to simplify or eliminate the task.
Organize your workspace and areas shared with other staff members. Make sure things can easily be found, preferably by keeping them in full view. This will help avoid time-wasting searches.
Benchmark what you do. This will help you compare
performance indicators that can be measured;
methods and procedures.
Compare what you do with
similar work areas in your organization;
similar work areas in other organizations;
different work areas in other organizations.
Be receptive to new ideas, even if they come from very different workplaces, and you will discover new opportunities. For example, you might discover how to reduce customer line-ups in a bank by comparing how hotels process lines of people at checkout time.
Adapt new ideas to fit your work situation.
PRODUCTIVITY: QUESTIONS TO STIMULATE IMPROVEMENT
Look at processes in your workplace with your colleagues. Ask yourselves these questions to discover new ideas for improving productivity.
Is every step in this procedure necessary?
Does every step add value for our customers?
Are there steps missing?
Who checks work while it is being carried out and when it is finished — the people who do the work or someone else?
Does the process have a logical workflow?
Where are the significant delays in this procedure? What is causing them?
Are people who do related activities stationed near each other?
Do certain policies and procedures prevent improvements?
Are people empowered to make improvements in their own jobs?
Have we any data on our productivity?
Are productivity data shared with the entire workforce?
Can we involve more people in seeking out ideas to improve productivity?
How necessary are the improvements we have made?