The one conversation you need to have with your team to increase productivity

The one conversation you need to have with your team to increase productivity

The one conversation you need to have with your team to increase productivity

When it comes to leading your team, there are a thousand opportunities to guide your team to growth and development, and then a thousand opportunities to lead them astray. And while a meeting won’t change their lives, it will open a dialogue about their position within the company and how best to create value within the company. Because ultimately, the most effective way to get your team on the right track is to start with a conversation.

Define productivity

Before I share an example conversation I had with someone on my own team, I want to preface this story by defining productivity in a way that makes sense for your business. It’s easy for a team member to take on a lot of work. They can have a ten-page to-do list and manage to get it all done by the end of the day. They can produce a thousand reports, take a hundred phone calls, and type dozens of emails and spreadsheets and sit idle. Because if it doesn’t create value for your business, it doesn’t really matter. You want to define productivity as a person’s ability to create real value for your business.

The difference between “How can I do everything” and “How can I do well what matters most”.

I had one person working with us in marketing, and she was so good at getting everything done. And while that’s a great skill to have, I knew we could do better. So I sat down with her and had a conversation that helped change her course. I recognized that while she was great at pumping out a lot of work, I’d rather see her do 25-30% less, focusing her time on the tasks and projects that were most valuable to the company. And even though it was a struggle for her at first because she had been instilled in the world of “doing it all”. When she started spending more time on these less important things, she was able to actually create more value for the organization and found herself less stressed in the long run. Did it take a bit of adjustment to make the change? Absolutely. But was it worth having that initial conversation? Absolutely.

Set value

Another question I often get is, “Okay David, but what constitutes value? How do I share this with my team?” If the person is in sales or marketing, it’s usually a pretty straightforward metric. Does it bring income? But if someone is in customer service or human resources, the lines get a little blurry. So you want to sit down and look at their job description and decide what value they bring to the table. Like, say, let’s take someone in a call center. Someone in a call center is there to answer the phone as quickly as possible and help customers or clients. But if not done properly, they can irritate one customer after another by driving them away from the phone. Which brings no value to your business. True value is helping a customer in such a way that the customer will stay and spend money with your business and happily refer others. So if you look at it in that context, they can create more value by taking fewer calls throughout the day with a higher level of customer satisfaction.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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