I spoke with a client recently about his efforts to develop productive work environments. He pointed out to me that he uses several practices that, if implemented effectively, form a sound basis for improving productivity.
Sense of direction
First, he mentioned that as the owner he needed to establish a clear sense of direction and a clear vision of business success. In his company he thought it important that he communicate to his employees that their participation and involvement in the company were vital to the success of his business. It is important for him to create an environment where he could bring out the best in employees.
Policies and procedures
He mentioned that the next most important practice is the establishment of policies and procedures, practices, and principles that help to structure the interrelationships amongst all the stakeholders in the business – ownership, management, employees, business partners, and customers.
I asked why he thought these were the most important practice. Not surprisingly this led to a discussion about our first jobs. We talked about what time we reported to work, when we were allowed to take a break, take lunch, and when we left work. Early in our careers we each had hourly jobs that required us to record our time. Later on we were on salary and did not record our time (although it seems we both worked more hours when on salary than previously).
While we didn’t know it at the time, we were working under clear, reasonable rules that helped to establish an orderly work environment, in this example start and stop times and the reporting of hours worked. He mentioned that he did not think these were necessary in his business – until he owned his own business. His simple point was this – we are social creatures – we grew up learning cultural, educational, and societal rules – and they simply extend to the workforce. Each business adapts its policies and procedures to its cultural, educational, and societal rules.
Setting an example
My client also mentioned that it was important that he set the tone and the example with his employees by creating regular opportunities to participate in discussions on rules. He said that having a “policy” for developing rules and changes in procedures that actively engages employees contributes to his managers and employees emulating this practice with each other when discussing work process improvements and other procedures.
Communicate and discuss
It may seem trite but my client emphasized the importance of regular and consistent directions and instructions to perform certain work tasks. Furthermore he stressed the importance of each employee understanding the role they play in helping his company to achieve its business goals. Finally, he mentioned how important it is for employees and their managers to regularly discuss accomplishments of company goals and objectives.
How can you develop a productive work environment in your business?
My client had some simple advice for this question. Work with your employees, identify what motivates them, and identify what goals they have for themselves and how these correlate to your business goals. Talk with them about their ideas and perspective on your business goals – are there different ways, better ways that they can accomplish their work. Based on their talents, skills, values, and behavioral preferences, have you created a work environment that enables them to maximize their productivity?
After receiving his sage advice on all matters of productive work environments I asked him if he would like to coach other business owners – he smiled and said he had a job. Guess I am safe – for now. How do you develop productive work environments in your business?
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