Are You Giving Your Employees Enough Work to Do?

Some employees are experts at looking busy. They may be up and down from their desk all day, or huddled close to their computer screens. Their desk may be in disarray, or their phone constantly ringing. But aside from the sights and sounds, or lack of sounds, what are other indications that your employees are actually being productive? How can you be sure that their activity equals productivity?

For many companies, this is measured in the form of performance metrics. Metrics can make almost any task measurable, and companies are able to look at the growth and decline of metrics over time to see how employees are progressing in specific areas and further extrapolate the numbers to growth in the business. Aside from the mathematical form of measuring productivity, here are some ideas for getting an honest idea of your employee’s productivity.

Understand your employees’ roles. “What?” you say. “Of course I know my employee’s roles. I hired them for a purpose and trained them for specific tasks.” While this is true, most likely their job has evolved in ways you’re not even aware of. Most likely, their processes have changed and they’ve taken on tasks that are modified from those you originally gave them. If you understand the intricacies of their jobs – their daily tasks, regular projects, typical interactions with team members and other employees – you’ll have a better idea of how much work they do in what amount of time.

Have clear expectations and provide accountability. As your employees’ jobs are changing, your expectations for their role are most likely evolving with it. Are you still being clear about what your expectations are for their job? Use resources that are already available, such as a one on one meeting to continue to reassess and refocus your expectations and then provide them with an adequate amount of accountability. Perhaps accountability is accomplished in a one on one meeting, or perhaps by asking for a weekly detailed report of their progress. Either way, by communicating regularly, you leave little question about what you view as productive and by providing accountability, you can assess whether or not you see that productivity.

Give employees deadlines and track them. You probably often delegate tasks to your team as necessary. But when you ask for the task to be done by a certain time or date, do you also follow-up on its completion? Put their deadlines on your calendar as well and ask for written or verbal communication that the task is finished. This will give you a small measure of how long it took your employee to complete a task. Maybe it didn’t take as long as you anticipated. Maybe you didn’t allot enough time.

Finally, reward productivity instead of busyness. When some of these tactics are put into place, you’ll have a better sense of your employees’ productivity. If you’re knowledgeable about their positions, you’ll be able to identify if they’re being productive or just “looking busy.” When you see productivity or real triumph in the workplace, reward it, instead of rewarding the employee who flies around the office, sends the most emails, or has the largest pile in their inbox.

How do you ensure your employees are actually getting work done instead of just looking busy? Share in the comments below!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Alan Cleaver