Is your organization as efficient as it could be? If you’re being honest with yourself, the answer is probably no. There are many causes of internal inefficiency, from generalized demotivation to specific process issues that can be easily rectified.
Since every organization is different, broad-based fixes for such inefficiency are hard to come by. But, no matter what your company, department, or team does, there are some straightforward steps you can take to ensure that you’re firing on all cylinders.
1. Get Everyone on the Same System
Obsolete or redundant IT systems are the bane of management consultants the world over. If your office is running on a hodgepodge of devices, operating systems, and cloud-based software, look for ways to get everyone on the same page — or at least streamline technology processes to reduce the inherent messiness of the bring-your-own-device workplace.
2. Find Meaning in Your Team’s Work
This is, admittedly, a less tangible tip. But it’s no less important to your organization’s overall effectiveness.
“A life worth living is constructed piece by piece,” writes contemporary American philosopher Arnold Siegel. Ultimately, he adds, it’s up to us “to be architects of our own emotions when disappointments, pessimism or obstacles have knocked us to the mat.”
In other words, you and your team need to believe in what you’re doing — to piece together a portfolio worth pursuing, to paraphrase Siegel. This is a recipe for elevated morale, a precondition for peak efficiency.
3. Reduce the Length and Frequency of Meetings
Here’s the blunt truth: Most meetings are a waste of time. Certain face-to-face powwows have their place. Team leaders can and should maintain standing meetings with others directly adjacent in the chain of command. (More on that below.) However, when meetings proliferate, redundancy is almost inevitable.
It’s therefore in your organization’s clear interest to reduce the amount of time spent talking, rather than doing. In a provocative column, Inc contributor Val Wright invites decision-makers to ask two simple questions:
“If you were to add up the salary investment in employee time spent in meetings and then reduce it by 75 percent, what would your savings be? What if you redirected even half of this time to innovating new ways to offer value to your customers?”
These are delicate matters for managers accustomed to frequent meetings, to be sure. But they’re hard to argue against on the merits.
4. Reinforce the Chain of Command
Everyone on your team should know who they report to, who owns the processes to which they’re party, and who they can turn to for help with specialized tasks. This all needs to be crystal clear. Fortunately, making it so is a straightforward affair: a clear org chart supplemented by written processes and policies should be sufficient.
5. Maintain an Open-Door Policy
Make sure every person on your team feels like their input is acknowledged and valued. The best way to do this is to maintain an open-door policy, literally and figuratively. Give everyone on your team your direct (mobile) phone number and let it be known that you’re willing to schedule face-to-face chats to address concerns — no matter how trivial or serious.
Hold Yourself Accountable
Setting aside the tips outlined above, the most important step you can take to ensure that your company fires on all cylinders is to reflect with regularity. Don’t shy away from taking periodic hard looks in the mirror, even when you know — if you’re being honest with yourself — that you’re not necessarily going to like everything you see.
You’re the captain of the ship in your company, or department, or whatever organizational fiefdom you control. With great power comes great responsibility.