A productive team and how to encourage them – 5 simple steps

I was in a lovely café in a suburb of Dublin a couple of weeks back and couldn’t help but notice the relationship between the owner and his employees. I went there for brunch with my wife and my 16-month old son, following rave reviews from a few friends. With Peppa Pig at the ready to give us that precious 20 minutes of peace and quiet, we arrived with high expectations. Unfortunately though we won’t be returning, and for once, it is not due to the antics of our son. We won’t be returning because of the owner.

There is nothing worse than tension in a work place. Worse still, there is nothing worse than tension in a work place that customers and clients can see. But this is exactly what we experienced between the owner and his staff when we dined in his café.

Now it may have gone unnoticed by the majority of customers, and yes it could have been just one of those mornings, but it shouldn’t happen. It leads to unproductive nervous staff which ultimately leads to an uncomfortable experience for customers. As it’s a relatively new café, benefit of the doubt should probably be given to the owner. He may be a very nice man who is striving for perfection for his business. But the manner in which he appears to be going about it is not going to get him there.

I won’t get into the nitty gritty details of the experience but let’s just say that how he spoke and dealt with his staff was interesting to see. It led to nervous waiters and waitresses. I was even taken back to my school days when one employee had to actually ask if he could go to the toilet! I kid you not.

So it got me thinking. What leads to productive staff, because as we all know, in business, a productive team means better business.  Here are my top 5 (+1) tips to having a productive team.

1) Lead by example. An obvious but fundamental tip

In all walks of life this is true. People follow leaders. Your children follow and mimic your actions and even your use of language. This also rings true for the workplace. Adhere to good work ethics yourself, from manners to hard work, and it will be noticed and followed.

2) Communication is key

Communication in all relationships is so important. Think of your personal life. Are you a good or bad communicator? Communicating with your work team ensures tasks are performed well and everyone is clear on their responsibilities. Poor communication leads to poor work which leads to frustration and confrontation. This also goes for employees. Whoever you are, if you’re a poor communicator then work on it. It will avoid confusion and arguments.

3) Give and Take

I am a great believer in give and take. Giving out to staff for turning up late for example while in the same breath expecting them to work late throughout the week, is counter productive. It leads to resentment and ultimately poor productivity.  If a staff member gives short notice for needing time off for family matters then think of your own family and what it would mean to them in the same scenario.

4) Give positive feedback

In the heat of the moment it is sometimes hard to restrain yourself from giving negative feedback. However, always try to put a positive slant on it. If there are issues with certain staff members that need to be addressed, then approach it with solutions on how to overcome the issues. Likewise, when your employees have done a good job, let them know, especially when customers or clients have told you so.

5) Let them make mistakes where possible

A controversial one and something I myself have problems with allowing. But as in all walks of life, learning  from our mistakes makes us better at what we do. If an employee makes a mistake and it is dealt with accordingly then next time around they are unlikely to do the same. Well they shouldn’t anyway. Trying to micro manage staff at every turn won’t work and will probably lead to even more mistakes and problems.

5 +1) Try to have fun

If this means just chatting for 5 minutes about non work related things, then do so. That 5 minutes might seem like an eternity for many business owners but could lead to double that in productive time.

Happy staff leads to productive staff which leads to happy customers and clients. Happy customers  and clients lead to returning business (assuming the product and/or service are good), which as we know, leads to a successful business.

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