The key goal for a manager is getting optimum team productivity for an extended period.
Productivity is the ultimate measure of supervisors’ effectiveness, because it engenders better business outcomes. Highly productive employees stay at their jobs longer and have higher rates of job satisfaction. These dialed-in superstars are the backbone of any operation.
Of course, getting increased productivity while maintaining an empathetic, happy work environment is no easy task. Here are three tactics to try:
1. Deliver career value to the employee.
An employee who deeply believes you have her best career interests at heart will run through walls for you. That means you must be transparent about how increases in her productivity will lead to what she wants—not what you want or what the organization wants.
If you mislead her about this and don’t deliver, you’ll lose her forever. Be proactive about supporting your team. Mentor your employees, and give them ample opportunities for professional development. Put in the time for personal guidance, and put your money where your mouth is for conferences, software or whatever else your colleagues need to succeed.
2. Encourage senior leaders to (publicly) acknowledge individual productivity increases.
Appreciation is paramount in getting and extending productivity increases in your employees. One way to encourage and sustain good outcomes is to regularly brief leaders on which specific individuals have been crushing it lately, and to have execs publicly praise their good work.
To make sure this crucial recognition happens, you’ll need to lead leaders a bit. Email the name of the star worker, include his email address or phone number, and list what he did that was above and beyond. Then, go one more step. Tell the leaders specifically what you expect them to do with this information.
That might sound like micromanaging, but most busy leaders are appreciative to have specific instructions and clear marching orders. Execs know that employees love recognition—and most leaders enjoy doling it out—but it often gets lost in the shuffle of everyday duties. So, equipping execs with everything they ought to know (and do) helps streamline the recognition process.
3. Define what “extra” is, and clarify what employees will get in return.
Too often, employees and execs have differing views of what constitutes “above and beyond” effort. Great performance management is about defining role expectations and clarifying specifically what success looks like.
Once you do this as a leader, increasing productivity is just a matter of seeing which employees want to reach that next step—and, of course, rewarding that effort as it comes.
Yelling won’t get the job done. Enforcing draconian “productivity quotas” certainly won’t, either. There’s no need for kicking and screaming. Just acknowledge great work, clearly define expectations, and recognize employees who consistently strive to succeed.