Who doesn’t want (or need) to be more productive and more efficient? Certainly, as CEO of an SME, staying productive means we all get to come to work another day. As a country, Australians apparently work very hard, although it’s still odd to me that the whole country seems to shut down for half of December and almost all of January. I guess it means we have to work that much harder for the other 47 weeks of the year.
So, how can we be more productive? Well, there are lots of things you can do to not only stay afloat but get ahead, increase your productivity and have fun on the job.
1. Job descriptions should be closely tied to outcomes/KPIs
You can’t manage what you can’t measure and job descriptions should be realistic, relevant and have clear, reasonable and achievable key performance indicators (KPIs). Educate your team on how important it is for everyone to play a sales role and pull together for success. Take the time to meet with your employees regularly if not just to touch base.
2. Sieve the business
Sieve your business as if you were sifting husk-filled flour–let only the essential ingredients remain. Unfortunately, cutting out the ‘nice to haves’ is a necessary evil. Are those fresh flowers every week really necessary? In particular, get rid of everything that isn’t working really well. Look at your business critically from every angle, including partners, staff, your brand, the database, low return customers, through to suppliers. This process gives you a fresh look at how the business runs and gives you the opportunity to improve how the business operates and where you can reduce costs or even make new investments.
3. Regular work in progress (WIP) meetings to keep you on track
Even though we are a small business, we are a busy team managing a large portfolio of clients. It is absolutely critical that each of those clients is looked after properly – and if the account manager is away for whatever reason, someone else knows what is going on. So, we have a regular WIP every Monday at 10am and go over who’s doing what. Who’s away, who’s overloaded, who’s got free time, do we need extra help? Also, at the beginning of the year we hold our own Kick-Off, reviewing business objectives and where we’re going for the next 12 months.
4. Keep up to date with technology
Whether we like it or not, the world is changing and technology is leading the charge. These days, social media is the buzz and how people are choosing to communicate with each other. Printed copy still has a place, but in an online world, you must be able to access information, communicate and respond quicker than ever. For many, ‘technology = productivity’ and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is the information channel of choice for the future, so use it to your advantage!
5. How’s your database?
It really is impossible to overstate how important your database is – the single most important piece of intellectual property you own and possibly your most important productivity tool. How much time is wasted trying to track down someone you met somewhere ? You know you put their business card somewhere but can’t seem to find it. It makes me frustrated just thinking about it. Keep your database clean, accurate and up-to-date. Modern database software means you can communicate with thousands of people by pressing ‘enter’. You can track responses, changes and, if you move on or your company does go belly up, you can be back in business in minutes. Now, that’s productivity!