This year, I had one clear goal for Alexis Chateau PR. I needed to bring in as much revenue as possible so we can have an easy relocation process for 2020. This requires team effort, so I really need all hands on deck and I need everyone to be committed to the same goal as myself.
By nature, I’m the kind of person who gets work done. I work first and play later. Even so, when a lot of work ends up on my desk and I would really rather be doing anything else, procrastination is the end result. So, here’s how I ensured that myself and my team mates increased productivity and punctuality despite the heavier workload.
1. Enforce Deadlines
When some of your team mates are people you know personally and have either a familial or friendly relationship with outside of work, maintaining authority can be tricky. There will always be that one person who believes they can skirt a few policies because they are a friend or family member.
I have one such person on the team, so rather than constantly remind them about deadlines and send follow-up emails, I stopped. Instead, I set timers. When they failed to meet deadlines, I simply canceled the assignment and passed the work to someone else.
I set team deadlines well ahead of client deadlines, so I always have enough time to complete work when initial deadlines pass by. Since following this new routine, their tardiness has improved and I developed a proper fail-safe for handling their workload on my own just in case.
2. Create Incentives
If you have ever taken a psychology class, then you know that negative consequences are not the best way to create positive change. This is because people react better to pull factors than push factors.
So, I decided to try a small incentive and see how it worked. The incentive was to have a small cash bonus for Team Mate of the Month. The bonus was not for completing regular objectives, but for going above and beyond.
This would include submitting work way ahead of time and minimizing errors. If the humans failed to win the cash bonus, then it would go to the feline on the team. So far, he has won once.
3. Informal Clocking In
Most of our work is paid on a per-project versus per hour basis. This means that how much money we make in a day, or even within an hour, all boils down to efficiency. But, we also don’t want that efficiency at the risk of errors.
One way I rectified this for myself was to begin “clocking in” even for work that was not paid hourly. I then began to time myself as I worked on each different task. I know how much I get paid for each one from various clients, so once you see the time ticking by, your brain automatically starts to do a per-hour rate calculation.
One of our clients has a total quality management system in place that does a check on the quality of completed work. Believe it or not, we have actually improved rather than skimped on quality.
4. Use Checklists
So, how did I reduce the time spent on each task while also increasing accuracy? I started to use checklists. For one of our biggest Third-Party clients, this was two pages long. However, having a list to quickly go through removes all the guesswork and speeds up the process.
When other team mates found themselves spending way too much time on tasks, even though they turned in their assignments way ahead of time, I provided them with a checklist as well. Not only have they cut their task completion time in half since then, but I have yet to come across another error so far. This boosts my own productivity levels by ensuring I spend less time micromanaging and making corrections.
Halfway through this year, we’ve definitely learned some important lessons about increasing revenue and profitability. Chief among them is that improving efficiency and reducing errors can increase revenue and profit without ever looking for new clients. How is this?
Because we spend less time on tasks, we’ve been able to assist our clients with big workloads that would have otherwise missed the deadlines for their own clients. This combined with a clear commitment to seeking feedback and improving our work quality has caused them to trust us with higher-paying assignments that could have gone to another firm or a freelancer.
We are eternally grateful for the lessons we learned and hope that you, too, will find them useful as you build and grow your business this year.
About the Author
Alexis Chateau is the Founder and Managing Director at Alexis Chateau PR. She is an activist, writer, and explorer. Follow her stories of trial and triumph at www.alexischateau.com.