Start by asking yourself the question, “Does my team have everything they need to be successful in their job?” This should be our starting point as owners, executives, supervisors, and area managers. Yet, it is so easy to overlook when going about our day-to-day tasks. We, as overseers, are pulled in multiple directions meeting the needs of our clients, products, and daily ‘fires.’ When our focus is pulled, our team is left to fend for themselves, setting them up for failure instead of the success we strive for. How do we progress forward? What can we do to actively encourage our team to be more efficient and effective?
First, we can focus on what resources are provided to our team. Stay up-to-date on what equipment, technology, and information you use in your organization. Make sure your team has equipment and tools that are in working order. Even a computer going down for just a couple of hours can result in loss of revenue for a company. Providing adequate maintenance to keep equipment functioning efficiently and providing proper training for the use of equipment and available technology can limit the amount of downtime caused by either equipment malfunctions or user error.
Arranging workspaces economically so that your team has all the tools, materials, and equipment they need at or near their workstations encourages better efficiencies all around. In addition, does your team have current and up-to-date standard operating procedures? If you were to experience turnover, will your new hires have proper instructions they can follow? Be aware of what resources are available within your organization and build relationships that will allow your team to use those resources when necessary.
Second, maximize your team’s productivity. Easier said than done; however, as supervisors and managers, we are the coaches or cheerleaders for our team. We not only set the standards; we also uphold our team members to those standards. If we have a team member who only gives us 80% of their work performance, ask why. Is it because they do not know what 100% looks like? We can encourage our team to be more productive in their daily tasks by providing these coaching moments. Set goals or expectations for our team and hold them accountable for achieving them. Make sure your team understands how to achieve those goals. Keep them focused and provide guidance when necessary. Provide frequent positive feedback about their performance and correct any inefficient behavior as it occurs. Explain in detail what is being done well and what needs improvement.
Give your team opportunities to develop and expand their skills and knowledge through training, special projects and any work assignments, mentoring and coaching. If your team member is struggling, try to find another way to approach the situation to help them understand and reach that goal. Keep in mind; we do not always think things through the same way so we may have to think outside the box. Help train your team to manage their time better. We all keep track of our daily tasks in different ways. Help them determine what would work best for them and your company for time management—help in eliminating time wasters. Think smarter, not harder. Could there be an easier solution to a problem? Try to meet or check in with them to follow up on progress. Just ensure that each meeting has a clear purpose and goal in mind and keep the meeting on task. Also, only invite individuals who need to be at the meeting and provide sufficient notice prior to the meeting to allow your team enough time to be adequately prepared. Following up and following through is critical for team management to ensure productivity goals are met.
Team Culture and Environment
Finally, building a better team culture and environment. You want to create a productive atmosphere that encourages cooperation, mutual respect, and sharing of viewpoints. We are all different and thus not going to always see eye-to-eye. Conflicts are inevitably going to happen. Nevertheless, how we handle those conflicts matters more. Teach your team how to resolve conflict when it occurs. Provide techniques so that the team can resolve any conflicts promptly. Encourage those discussions to occur in private and for any solutions to be communicated appropriately to the team.
When we say that we have an open-door policy, we need to show that to be true to our team. Encourage feedback. We are given a choice when a team member comes to us for help or guidance. We can either just tell them what to do, or we can ask them how they would go about it. By asking them how they would handle a situation, we encourage them to take more initiative and think for themselves. This also allows us as managers to see how they would handle a situation if we were unavailable and allows us the chance to provide additional guidance if necessary to ensure they will be prepared when we are out.
Ensuring that your team has everything they need to succeed can feel overwhelming at times and sometimes even feels impossible. My encouraging words to you would be to just focus on one thing at a time. Sometimes that is all we can do, and over time we will get there and be better off for it. Just know you are not in this alone. Remember to pull on your resources and seek your own guidance as well. Not knowing how to handle a situation does not mean you have failed. We all ask for help and guidance from time to time.
Written by: Dianna Lyon-Wagner, SPHR, M.A.
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