10 Essential Rules for Creating More Productive Employees

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How do you create more productive employees in your office—or at least create an environment that makes them want to be more productive?

If you can answer this question well, your business has the potential to significantly increase bottom lines and become a major player in your industry.

Jane Murphy, workplace coaching blogger and author of What Could Happen if You Do Nothing: A Manager's Handbook for Coaching Conversations offers 10 critical tips to create more productive employees and get them excited enough about their job that they're going to want to contribute to the overall greater success of the company.

Know Them

People (and your employees) are more than just a resume. Take the time to get to know your people. Their values, their interests, their capabilities, their challenges, and aspirations. Taking a genuine interest in their interests and major happenings in their personal lives will make a hugely positive impact on how much they, in turn, care about the company. You can discover untapped skills and abilities. They can air any unaddressed concerns. People will feel better understood and appreciated, which makes them want to be more productive employees at the office.

Develop Them

Offer opportunities at work for your people to grow. There are many ways you can tap their potential: coaching, skills workshops, courses, shadowing, mentoring, increasing responsibility. Beyond just professional growth, offer them opportunities to learn new hobbies, pick up exciting skills, and give them time to focus on their passion projects. Encourage them to step up in their personal and professional lives.

Communicate Clearly, Early, and Often

Be clear about your expectations of them. Wherever possible, keep people informed about the whole business. They'll want to know about both the good and bad—and particularly about anything that impacts their jobs. Walk the talk. If you expect honesty and openness from them, model that in the way you communicate with them first.

Inspire Them

You're the architect. Communicate a clear vision of where you want to go as a team, and talk about how to get there. You set the overall vision of the company, but you need to empower them to have a personal impact on how the company achieves these goals. Invite collaboration and participation. Introduce opportunities to solve problems together. Encourage risk-taking, and acknowledge that failure is a by-product of innovative thinking. Live the values and mission you've articulated for your group and for the business. Give people room to think and contribute. Then step out of the way and let them perform.

Recognize Performance

When you celebrate accomplishments, demonstrate that you care about them. Acknowledge and offer feedback (once a week at a minimum and every 6 months regarding overall progress). Try to assure that they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day, and remind them that their jobs are important.

Request Feedback for Yourself and Demonstrate Humility

Demonstrate your willingness to grow and change along with them. A critical piece of information for you is to what degree you are helping them get their jobs done… not getting in their way. Ask… and let them know their opinions matter. Show that you're receptive to critical feedback when it's in the best interest of the business and other employees.

Establish SMART Goals

Whether for their individual job performance or for ongoing project milestones, set goals that are "SMART" (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely). SMART goals are critical to delivering quality and successful results.

Listen Well

Active listening is a valuable skill. Follow the other person's thinking and enable them to hear themselves. Go beyond the words being said to what isn't said. Listen to how something is said. Doing this can offer real insight.

Offer the Support They Need

Ensure they have the resources needed (time, people, budget, training) to do their work effectively.

Acquire or Enhance Your Coaching Skills

Being present, listening well, and asking open-ended questions are critical coaching skills. Incorporating these into your managing style will reflect your leadership, your investment in your people, and will ensure a strong footing for successful relationships.

At the end of the day, if your team members love their job and look forward to coming into work, they're going to be intrinsically motivated to become more productive employees for your business.

Figure that out, and the sky is the limit.