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Get Your Team Working Like a Well-Oiled Machine

4 min read

To build intrinsic momentum, point out where individual contributions — like pieces of a puzzle — add to the “big picture” on a current project. Show your employees how, regardless of their role, their performance makes an impact by sharing data on successful outcomes along the way.

You’ve been ordered to increase productivity in your division. The choices you make regarding training, schedules, team selection, and project management need to show results.

Without warning, the process speeds up and turns from hopeful to horrible. Inundated with mandates, overwhelmed with deadlines, you feel like Lucille Ball in the candy factory, trying to manage the chocolates speeding by on a conveyer belt. What’s the best strategy? Who should be in which role? Will your decisions make any difference in productivity? Like Lucy, you hide the mistakes, stuff it all under your hat, and go home feeling sick.

No need to grab your lunch pail and run screaming from the factory. We now know something those ladies on the conveyer belt didn’t. As today’s leaders, we can use our Emotional Quotient to increase workforce productivity.

“Leaders must be more emotionally intelligent to be more effective
and efficient at maximizing outcomes and desired results.”
Glen Llopis, Forbes Leadership – September 2012 

First, as discussed in Want To Keep Your Ship Afloat? Make Sure the Crew Is Engaged, a work environment that motivates engagement is foundational to optimal performance. If you’ve already increased engagement and productivity is still sagging, expanding extrinsic and intrinsic provocation will have your team working like a well-oiled machine — but one with passion and heart.

Perks Beyond Payroll

Raise performance with external rewards by providing perks to peak their productivity. (Add “Peter Piper” to this section header and that’s an emotional intelligence tongue twister.) According to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Professor of Business Psychology at University College London, perks don’t always need to be payroll increases, as, “there is little evidence to show that money motivates us, and a great deal of evidence to suggest that it actually demotivates us.”

Instead, swap the cents for incentives.

Offer long-term goal bonuses in the form of travel opportunities or additional paid time-off. If your employees have short-term goal success, see if you have the ability to offer discounted health club memberships, or gift certificates for restaurants, spas, or sports games. Be creative: reduce tension and stress by sponsoring an in-house chair massage center on Fridays during the dreariest winter month.

More than Bottom Line Benefits

Ford’s assembly line might be efficient for cars, however it neglects its workers and their needs; don’t treat your team members like they’re just boxing chocolates. Today’s workforce is savvy, smart, and need to know how their contributions make a difference.

To build intrinsic momentum, point out where individual contributions — like pieces of a puzzle — add to the “big picture” on a current project. Show your employees how, regardless of their role, their performance makes an impact by sharing data on successful outcomes along the way. Want to go even further? Satisfy their desire to do greater good by linking a percentage of specific project profits (that they’ve worked on) to community organizations, an educational grant or a charitable cause.

Make Mono-tasking Mandatory

Lucy’s only job on the assembly line was to wrap chocolates. Increase productivity in your division by following her lead and wrap up multi-tasking. We think our ability to multitask is an important skill for increasing efficiency, however psychologists have found that attempting to do several tasks at once results in lost time and productivity.

Roll out an initiative that requires others be fully present and do one thing at a time. Start with a group agreement to keep laptops and personal phones away during meetings and conference calls and reward successful behavior with a shorter meeting as bonus. Step it up a notch by mono-tasking yourself as a model to others and an endorsement of their attempts.

The Right Person for the Right Job

When the factory foreman needs a hole drilled into 200 parts, he doesn’t use a lathe to do it. Just as the right tool for the job is crucial, according to an article in Bloomsburg Business by Amy Barrett, “getting the right people into the right jobs is key to your company’s growth.”

Your team members are individuals, with specific preferences, work, and management styles. Use your emotional quotient to pay attention to others’ interpersonal work and communication styles. See where they fall among these well-known styles:

  • Needs hard data, numbers, facts; less importance on feeling & emotion.
  • Wants supporting evidence and reasoning.
  • Succeeds at research, analysis & reporting
  • Prefers the big picture, concision & outcomes – getting things done.
  • Often direct, authoritative & likes to take charge.
  • Like to think big & challenge convention
  • Likes process, details, timelines, well-thought plans.
  • Favors logic and predictability and enjoys implementing procedure and step-by-step details
  • Enthusiastic, expressive; values emotions, language, connection & relationship.
  • Interested in what others think & feel.
  • Strong presenting, sales & team skills

Confirm your hypothesis by talking it out. By asking each employee a couple simple questions, you can yield powerful insights.

  • What do you excel — or not — at?
  • What do you love — and dislike — about your job?

Simply tapping into an employee’s personal aptitude will result in a greater sense of ownership that will move production into full speed ahead.

We no longer have a lunch-bucket workforce to manage today, so don’t increase productivity with one-bucket ideas. Stay alert, be flexible, personal and diverse in your approach and you’ll soon hear your team humming like a well-oiled machine — or maybe because they’re motivated and happier.



Virtual Presence Guide: How to Help Virtual Teams Create Authentic Connections

Download this guide to discover tips and best practices to help your teams be productive and engaged when working virtually.

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