Unfortunately, these problems also create waste, resource loss, missed opportunity costs, and can lead to staff morale drops.
That said, there are ways to identify and turn bad business habits around. Habits will frequently become established where people become lazy, but a proactive monitoring for such behavior can head it off prior to becoming a real problem.
Focus on Objective Metrics
When it comes to inefficiency in work production, nothing beats objective metrics when it comes to measurements that avoid challenge. The beauty of an objective metric like workload, sales figures, caseload, transactions, calls etc. is that everyone agrees it’s an acceptable measurement tool. So when people are tracked by what they can produce over a given time period, and everyone is tracked the same way, it becomes extremely powerful. And when the benchmark of reasonable performance begins to rise as an average across a group, two things occur. First, a group tends to push individuals to keep up. Second, stragglers become very apparent and only have themselves to blame for the poor performance. As a result, efficiency tends to increase more often than not.
Gossip in the Workplace
Every workplace has some form of a gossip chain. Whether it’s flat out backtalk, or people just sharing news as they know it, a gossip chain almost always makes itself present. Where waste or slack is starting to occur, a gossip chain can start to signal where to look as people begin to become critical. However, managers should only use the information as an indicator. Gossip makes a horrible source for correcting someone, and betrays a supervisor as picking favorites, listening to one side and not the other. Smart managers stay out of the fray entirely, but use the commentary to focus their attention on staff who may need extra monitoring.
Efficiency can easily be engendered and improved with ongoing employee training. It’s not enough to train staff once and send them on their way. Smart supervisors find ways to regularly refresh their staff’s education as well as add to it, increasing their skill sets over time. Additionally, involved supervisors are always looking for opportunities to engage in coaching employees one-on-one. This helps build emotional and psychological synergies which have been proven again and again to produce far higher performance per individual than by enforcing minimum quotas or production requirements.
Another area that can be extremely powerful but is often missed is feedback. Both good and critical feedback are essential for workers to know where they stand in performance. And supervisors are not an exception from the rule. People who work as a team communicate regularly, even daily and hourly. However, where feedback is missing, people slip into silos, and then their performance starts to slip as they become cocooned in work tasks. Regular feedback breaks this cycle and gets people’s attention. Naturally, most tend to start improving their work, especially when they don’t want a repeat of critical feedback again.
Inefficient business habits are a challenge for any company, big or small. However, an engaged management frequently avoids this problem, nipping it in the bud with being connected, identifying holdbacks, and eliminating obstacles in behavior. With clear metrics and engaged coaching, these companies frequently produce some of the best work and output, and more importantly, people want to work there as well, improving talent retention significantly.