Last week, Laura Stack talked to HRTalentManagement.com about how HR and talent management professionals can stay productive in the face of distraction. In part two of the feature, Stack offers more insights into maximizing workplace productivity. This time around, Stack tackles the issues of keeping the whole office productive.
HR and talent management professionals have their own distractions to deal with, but they cannot ignore the challenges faced by employees outside of the department. In a lot of ways, HR and talent management workers are resources for everyone else in the office, which means they are in a unique position to help ensure that all employees stay productive throughout the day. Stack has a few strategies for doing just that:
· Get to Know Your Employees: “Study your employees intensely, so you know how their skills interlock, where they believe their deficiencies lie, what they feel insecure about, where you see gaps in their development and where they excel beyond their current job descriptions. Listen to what they tell you about themselves, especially in regards to their strengths and weaknesses,” Stack says. Armed with this information, HR and talent management departments can make smart decisions to foster productive workforces.
· Assign Strategic Tasks to Help Employees Learn: “If Jim is a great writer but a poor presenter, and his job requires both, do not just have him write reports. Assign him plenty of presentations, knowing he’ll have to work hard to improve if he wants to meet your expectations,” Stack says. In this way, employees can hone the skills they need to do their job well.
· Show a Genuine Interest in Employees’ Futures: “People appreciate it when they know you care about them as individuals, rather than as cogs in your workplace machine. Be honest and genuine about it. This alone will help boost loyalty and engagement,” Stack says. Loyal and engaged workers are often productive workers.
· Urge Your Employees to Keep Learning: “In addition to making sure they maintain their required skills, check in with your team members to see what skills they think they may need in the future, or may simply want in order to get ahead. Do what you can to provide those skills, either by sending them to a conference or workshop or by paying for college-level courses,” Stack says. As employees learn throughout their careers, they become capable of handling a multitude of challenges.
· Motivate Employees to Improve Themselves: “Give your people extra reasons to learn by offering incentives if they do … Point out that educational advancement also offers a good way to ascend the career ladder, allowing them to obtain more power, authority, and salary,” says Stack. When employees see the benefits of productivity, they will have an easier time fighting distractions.
· Keep Learning Yourself: In other words: lead by example. “Like it or not, you serve as a role model for your team. To some extent, they do what they see you doing. If they see you making a deliberate effort to develop your own skills further, they will prove more likely to do so themselves,” Stack says.
· Plan for Succession: Transitional periods can hinder productivity, as people will have to shift focus away from other tasks to focus on filling a vacancy. “Smart leaders groom talented, hard-working people for advancement whenever they find them, for the day when they or another person in management leaves. If the organization can promote from within, the organization can count on a smoother transition than might otherwise occur if there was no one on hand to fill the empty shoes,” Stack says.
· Never Slow Down: “Opportunities for career advancement are crucial to employee engagement. Without engagement, you will never maximize your team’s productivity. You can never slack off on talent development for your team. It must remain one of your top priorities if you want to keep the cream rising to the top,” Stack says. When employees know they have opportunities to advance, they will be sure to demonstrate their value by staying engaged and productive.
With these strategies as starting points, HR and talent management professionals should be able to equip employees of every department with the necessary tools to fight distraction and remain productive. Be sure to check in later in the week for the third and final part of HRTalentManagement.com’s interview with Stack, where the “Productivity Pro” will address work/life balance.