10 Things your department can do during slower work times
Wow, in today's economy and business environment this may seem like a very strange time to be writing about what to do when your group has extra time on their hands. In many cases, staff reductions over the last few years have left companies lean to the point of very often being understaffed to perform needed tasks.
With that said, then why am I writing this column now? The answer is that many jobs have work cycles. Accountants tend to be busiest at the beginning of each month, when trying to close the books from the previous month. Sales people tend to be busiest just before month end trying to close deals before the period ends. Other jobs also have daily, weekly, monthly, and/or yearly busier times and slower times.
This column discusses things you can do to help your team renew their energy, maximize their productivity, and maintain their motivation during the less crazy times in their natural business cycles.
To help renew your team's energy:
Celebrate the end of each difficult/hectic business cycle with a department lunch. If you don't have the funding, make it a 'pot-luck' lunch where everyone brings a different type of food to share. If you don't think a pot-luck will go over with your group, you can just have everyone bring their own lunch.
Have a speaker come to an extended staff meeting, teaching your team something new. It could be an internal company executive from another part of the company, a vendor, or even a senior member in your team.
Show videos at an extended staff meeting. This is easy and free. Do a little research on You Tube and find instructional and entertaining videos that relate to your team's profession and activities.
Have a 'Floating Friday Afternoon', allowing one or more of your staff to leave work early, based on some pre-organized and fair scheduled basis.
To help maximize your team's productivity
Have a brainstorming session analyzing how existing internal department processes can be streamlined.
Have a brainstorming session analyzing what new processes should be created.
Have a 'Clean your office day'. This may sound a little odd as a productivity tool, but generally speaking, people can be more productive if your personal workspace and department workspace are clean and orderly. For example, it's easier to find new printer toner cartridges if they are in right place.
To help maintain their motivation
Cross-train members of your team on each others' jobs. This has the dual benefit of providing free training to your team and increasing your future job assignments as their manager.
Have mini one-on-ones with your team members with the goal of helping them to grow professionally.
Have your boss come to a staff meeting and answer company-related questions for your team.
If your team is working full throttle on an ongoing basis, the thought of downtime to do any of the above activities seems unrealistic. For your team, the above activities can help save your team members from burning out, or at least burning out as quickly. That said, try to do abbreviated versions of the above activities. Rather than doing an extended staff meeting with a speaker, have a speaker for 15 minutes during a staff meeting. Call an impromptu staff meeting on a Thursday afternoon from 4:30 to 5:00 and instead of talking about business, show a short five minute business oriented video on You Tube, thank your team for doing great work and working so hard and send them home twenty minutes early.
These types of activities, big and small, can help make work a little more fun and a little more interesting. This in turn will help you energize your team, thus maximizing their productivity, motivation, and overall morale.
The primary advice and takeaways from today's column is to know that:
Many jobs have work cycles.
There are things you can do to help your team renew their energy, maximize their productivity, and maintain their motivation during the less crazy times in their natural business cycles.
If your team is working full throttle on an ongoing basis, the above activities can help save your team from burning out, or at least burning out as quickly. That said, do abbreviated versions of the above activities.
This blog is an excerpt from my weekly nationally syndicated column with GateHouse News Service. My new columns can be found in GateHouse Media publications throughout the United States.
Until next time, manage well, manage smart, and continue to grow.