7 Steps to Boost Productivity and Profits by Up to 40%

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This idea that we’ve created an under-utilized workforce continues to grab my attention.  Here’s one bit of data that supports the idea:

A poll by The Work Foundation found that 40% of workers had more skills than their job requiredHuddersfield Examiner

Here’s more. A recent study by Gallup that’s discussed in a post by Eric Brody on his blog, Healthy Conversations:

In a recent article on MarketingProfs, Gallup research of 300,000 businesses indicated that 75-80% of employees are achieving much less and feeling far less enthusiastic about their work than they could be. If all your employees were “fully engaged,” …. your profits would jump 40%. Eric Brody, Healthy Conversations

Small business needs 40% more productivity and profits. Why? There is the obvious, micro-economic, reason. Every business needs 40% more productivity and profits.

But, there’s  the macro-economic reason too. It’s as obvious, too. Our economy depends on small business to create to the new jobs. These new jobs are required before we  drive out of this recession. Right now, small business may not be performing that role so well.

We all know this. But, just to remind us all and add a little urgency, here’s a few  signs:

Here are 6 steps to boost productivity and profits by up to 40%. Take any one of them. Or, just take one.  But get started today. Your business needs the boost. Our economy needs the boost. Your neighbors need the jobs.

1). Imagine.

Imagine  your company  with a 40% boost in profits and productivity.

What are the metrics you’d use to:

  • measure your progress.
  • alert you when you’ve reached your target

What goal remains elusive now?

Would a 40% increase in productivity or profit bring you closer to reaching it?

Erika Andersen describes this process in her book Being Strategic. Great book.  I reviewed it in a post I wrote last week and published today.

You can listen to my conversation with Erika Andersen here.

2). Learn.

Two of the best books on uncovering and unleashing the strengths of your greatest asset, those in your organization, are by Marcus Buckingham:

Read them.  Learn from them. Learn how matching your employees’ strengths with their job description and recognizing them and putting them in a position to grow is the key to your growth.

3). Ask.

Ask those in your company. Ask them:

  • What they could do better,
  • How could they do it better,
  • Why could they do it better.

Keep asking:

  • When do they feel the strongest, clearest, happiest?
  • What are they doing?
  • When are they doing it?
  • What more do they need to have this experience more frequently?

Ask your customers, too.  Time is precious, yours and theirs. Use the most efficient customer-survey. It is the 1-question Ultimate Question Survey that generates their Net Promoter Score and collectively, yours as a company.

4). Get Your Freak On.

Dave Rendall at his Freak Factor blog  suggests the flip side of one’s weakness is one’s strength.  It’s the setting that matters. For instance, if you have a loud opinionated employee who can never stop talking…find a place where loud opinions constantly shared are desired, helpful. Everyone will thank you. Likewise, if you have one employee who is obsessive about details, find a place where details need obsessing.

You can listen to my conversation with Dave Rendall here.

5). Recognize. Immediately. Meaningfully.

Recognize excellence, strength, success…Do it immediately. Make that recognition meaningful. Meaningful means meaningful to the recipient.     Steps 2 and 3 will help you find those ways.

Recognize also means to celebrate. Celebrate your successes regularly, immediately.

6). Make the Party about Their Life.

Make sure you give your stakeholders one unique reason to celebrate their life, to look good for their stakeholders.  ( Tip of the hat to Kathy Sierra. )

7) Measure the results.

Measure as you grow. Change the metrics as you grow. As you engage everyone in this conversation, your metrics, quantitatively and qualitatively, will change. These changes will serve as  both a reason to celebrate and a future baseline to exceed.

Note: Each step here is a financially risk-free investment. Financial investments are earned as a reward only after the accomplishments are recognized. What are we waiting on?  We, our companies and  your communities, need us boost productivity and profits by 40% in order to create the jobs to drive us out of this recession.

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zane - DTMAbout the author: Zane Safrit’s passion is small business and the operations excellence required to deliver a product that creates word-of-mouth, customer referrals and instills pride in those whose passion created it. He previously served as CEO of a small business. Zane’s blog can be found at Zane Safrit.

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Zane Safrit Zane Safrit's My passion is small business and the operations' excellence required to deliver a product that creates word-of-mouth, customer referrals and instills pride in those whose passion created it. Zane's blog is Zane Safrit.

15 Reactions
  1. Zane,

    Stop writing, and just get your Freak on.

    Great article!

    The Franchise King
    Joel Libava

  2. Great Post,

    I particularly agree with #5. I think a lot of the time companies “recognize” employees far too rarely. Usually its only once a year at a gala or a year end event. They think that giving someone a $100 Gift Certificate to a store will makeup the year of missed opportunities.

    A lot of the time people just want to be patted on the back for a job well done, most of the time there does not need to be any monetary value attached to it.

    Vadim from myRetailer.ca

  3. I can really tell of you guys interesting and educative post. thumb up 4u guys

  4. I liked #4 – Utilizing your employees to the best of their ability is key. I have seen many employees who have “hidden talents”. These individuals often get bored with daily tasks and just breeze through them without any passion. Just think what a company could do if it employed all the talents under its roof! The results would be tremendous! And the clients/coworkers/partners would all benefit from happy employees. Unfortunately, employees aren’t always given the opportunity to put their “hidden talents” to work and are often left feeling underutilized. Remembering why we hire our employees is a good step in the right direction. But we need to utilize every aspect of their skills. Especially, if it’s producing good results for the company.

  5. Amazing that just by helping your employees REALLY use their passion, profits can increase 40% (great statistic). Also, increased productivity isn’t a zero-sum game. Increased productivity doesn’t mean fewer jobs for everyone to do, but leads to innovation and growth. Thanks Zane.

  6. I love Twitter! Thank you everyone for retweeting this article. I’ve followed each of you. And look forward to meeting you and learning from you.

  7. Penny Feigel, IAC-EZ

    I agree with Ashley. Number 4 is really important. Any employee who’s position requires what comes naturally to them, is going to be a huge asset. Some people just have their niche, where they can really make a difference.

  8. I love the tip about asking people in your company what you can do better, if you are not directly involved in the actual productivity then you might no know where the kinks are, so asking those people who have knowledge of the productivity can answer the questions you want to know about what to do differently.

  9. Love the post.
    Point 3 about asking your employees struck a chord with me.
    If you’re looking for more energy in a small business then motivate the employees who provide energy to the business and let them get really creative

  10. Martin Lindeskog


    Inspiring post! Have you had a podcast on this topic?

  11. The steps outlined are what I live for. It’s not about me, it’s about we. The people we work with want to be better, want to achieve more, and want success. If we stand in the way, then we only hurt ourselves and our company.

  12. Chris, that’s an excellent idea to help accelerate the discovery and spread of these heretofore hidden talents to add value for the company and for the individual. Thanks.

    Thanks all for the comments and tweets. This is a great community. Thanks, Anita.