You’d like to think that few people go to work to waste time. Finding ways to achieve and increase efficiency is something most employees have in the back of their minds. Yet with to-do lists that seem to get larger each day, many workers are tempted to resort to inefficient practices.
Coping methods such as multitasking and overworking might make business owners and staff feel more effective. However, these approaches rarely accomplish the goal of getting more things done in less time. Trying to do too much without sufficient processes and routines can reverse any gains in productivity.
Identifying and implementing solid practices instead will have a greater impact on your company’s efficiency. Each business will have a unique ideal approach, but there are general tactics every company can benefit from. Below are some tips and strategies to help everyone in your organization make more effective use of their time.
Start With Existing Processes
Managers and business owners can sometimes become removed from what happens on the front line. This may be so much the case that they’re unaware of how employees are going about their tasks. Another common issue is that leaders don’t experience the full impact of their strategic decisions.
Consequently, there could be inefficiencies within existing processes that need adjustments or significant changes. Staff members might also be inventing procedures, which could either take away from or contribute to productivity. For instance, apparel buyers for clothing stores could be sourcing products from multiple individual brands and suppliers.
This practice becomes inefficient as buyers find themselves duplicating their efforts, such as searching for appealing clothing styles across vendors. Buyers’ sourcing methods also create duplication for other employees who manage invoices and payments. Using a wholesale apparel marketplace like Faire eliminates replication and inefficiency. Staff members across the organization save time and financial resources for the business.
Define Your Goals
After you’ve solicited feedback from employees about existing processes and determined areas for improvement, you’ll need to define your objectives. Pinpoint which workflows you should eliminate, replace, or tweak. Remember to involve your staff and seek their input as you formulate new goals. You’ll help keep them engaged and invested in prioritizing your company’s efficiency.
When setting goals, you’ll want to steer away from targets that are too vague or open to subjective interpretation. Don’t simply tell the sales team they need to do more in less time. Outline what that looks like together and use historical data to shape measures of increased effectiveness. Make sure you can measure the objectives within a specific time frame. Also, ensure those goals are realistic and aligned to the company’s vision.
If last quarter’s sales were lower than expected, dig deeper to find out why. Your team’s general aim may be to increase cost efficiency through more revenue per sales visit during the quarter. But if overall activity is down, the sales team may need to come up with a more realistic measure. You might extend your time frame or redefine sales efficiency.
Use Technology and Automation
A closer look at your existing work processes may also reveal repetitive tasks the business can automate. Marketing or billing staff members might be regularly sending out emails to clients. While some of those communications could require manual intervention, most emails probably don’t.
Taking advantage of customer relationship management and email communication platforms like HubSpot or Constant Contact can free up your staff’s time. Instead of reinventing the wheel each time you want to send a survey to new customers, automation can handle it. Employees could create a standard survey invitation within an email template. When new customers purchase products or services, the software sends out the email based on trigger criteria.
Employees can also configure automated workflows to confirm payment receipts, digital newsletter subscriptions, and online orders. With some training, they will learn how to streamline as much as possible. Even communications that require some customization and modification can become automated to a large degree.
Workers may need to tweak promo messages or personalization tokens within the chosen platform. However, using standard templates and tools will cut down on manual intervention. Staff will have time to focus more on honing communication strategies instead of the tedious aspects of the implementation process.
Provide Feedback and Training
Every organization has a mix of expertise among its workforce. Some employees have been on the job for decades, while others are the new kids on the block. All employees benefit from professional development, knowledge sharing, and feedback, regardless of existing skill sets. Training and feedback can be formal or informal, occurring between peers or managers and direct reports.
Many jobs take a year or more to learn. If workers don’t receive sufficient training and mentorship, they’ll feel unsupported and become disengaged. Efficiency will begin to suffer because newbies are unsure of what they need to accomplish and the best ways to do it. Employees will likely experience frustration and roadblocks as they try to learn how things work and who can help.
In these circumstances, productivity will stall as workers give up or waste time searching for a solution. The efficiency of seasoned employees can also sometimes suffer if they rely solely on tried-and-true tactics. A culture built on continuous learning helps overcome tunnel vision or unawareness of novel approaches. Personalized learning plans, cross-training, job sharing, and collaborative feedback sessions are a few professional development approaches to try.
Efficiency is vital to your company’s success. A high level of effectiveness makes employees feel competent and empowered, fostering innovation and personal investment in your business. Making productivity a companywide priority starts from the ground up.
Be willing to critically evaluate your existing foundation and involve everyone in transforming it. Set realistic and measurable goals and utilize the capabilities of technology and your employees. Following these steps will define and shape what efficiency looks like to your company and its team.