However big or small a company is, it’s essential that all of the contributing parts work together smoothly as a whole. In order to hit targets and achieve goals, your team needs to consistently hit a certain expected level of productivity. When standards slip below that level, problems start to arise. Productivity and performance drop and the company as a whole suffers, which can ultimately lead to an end-of-year loss, redundancies and closures.
With this in mind, it’s important to keep your team operating at peak form and on its own initiative, adapting to new challenges and rising to meet situations as they come along. Even minor personal problems can affect staff morale, which in turn affects productivity. On the other hand, an employee may just need guidance to adjust wasteful working practices and up their game.
Issues that affect productivity
There’s an old saying that you should leave your problems at the door when you come to work, but the modern office manager knows that this isn’t always possible. There are many personal issues that will unavoidably impinge on concentration and focus at work. These could include relationship problems, money worries, depression, illness or drug and alcohol dependency.
A good manager needs to take a proactive approach to solving these problems. The first step is regular one-to-one sessions with your staff. If their work is slipping, try to find out why and offer to help them rectify the problem, rather than issuing threats of demotion or dismissal. They may tell you their marriage is in trouble, or they’re worried about a sick relative, in which case it could be appropriate to offer counselling sessions.
Keeping the office healthy
Your office should be a healthy environment if you want the best for your staff. No one does their best work in a damp, stuffy or freezing cold room. Extra employment benefits could include gym membership or private healthcare insurance, and healthy eating should be encouraged, with regular lunch breaks rather than snacking in front of a computer.
Looking after your employees also means looking out for substance abuse issues. Let your staff feel they can talk to you, and if they admit to a problem with drink or drugs, try to help them get over it with counselling or rehab instead of immediately sacking them. Many won’t admit they have a problem, even to themselves. Mandatory drug testing can help these individuals and shouldn’t necessarily be seen as draconian. An oral fluid lab test is simple and effective and will bring any problems to light, which is the first step to dealing with them.
An incentive programme can encourage employees to take responsibility for their own productivity. Targets and goals should be appropriate to the individual. If the bar is set too high, the stress and worry of trying to meet it could cause an employee’s work to deteriorate still further. Set reachable goals and consider lowering them if necessary.
Keeping a team proactive involves earning their trust and helping them to help themselves. It’s better to put time and resources into helping them solve problems rather than having them waste time and lower collective morale. Set goals and expect high standards, but also help those who stumble along the way.