May 25, 2020 | 12:05

Increase Your Team's Productivity by Establishing Processes - Part III

This is the final post in the series on how processes can boost the productivity of a team:

  1. Increase Your Team’s Productivity By Establishing Clear Processes
  2. How To Define Team Processes
  3. What To Cover With Processes (this article)

So far the discussion was about the main workflow of the team - the primary activity that transforms the inputs to a team into desired goals. But processes can improve team performance in other areas as well. This article contains some examples of daily activities of a team that can benefit from having a formalized process in place. Here is an overview of those areas:

  • Meetings
  • Recruitment Process
  • Onboarding Process
  • Communication Processes
  • Performance Evaluation Process

Meetings

In today’s reality of COVID-19 pandemic, this one is especially relevant since a big part of the world is working from home.

In order to proceed, it is important to understand why meetings are necessary. In “The Effective Executive” book, Peter Drucker gave a good explanation on why we meet:

We meet because people holding different jobs have to cooperate to get a specific task done. We meet because the knowledge and experience needed in a specific situation are not available in one head, but have to be pieced together out of the knowledge and experience of several people.

Not all meetings that I’ve attended fall under this definition and, surprisingly, almost all those meetings could be easily substituted by a simple email. If you don’t need to have inputs from different people and you don’t need to operate with those inputs in real time, then most probably, you don’t need that meeting.

However, let’s stick to meetings that are necessary and see how to improve their effectiveness.

According to a research, 63% of the 903 meetings that were surveyed didn’t have an agenda written in advance, more than 50% of an active managers official work-time is spent in meetings.1

Inefficient meetings cost a lot of money, too. According to a 2015 estimate, bad meetings cost the US economy somewhere between $70 and $283 Billion each year.

Therefore, think about how to improve the efficiency of your meetings and at the very least, create an agenda for the meeting and stick to it. If you can achieve your objective without a meeting, that is even better.

Recruitment Process

This is a very broad topic in itself. A good recruitment process is vital for the organization of any size: be it a small startup or an international corporation. And if the latter have those processes in place, small and medium enterprises might not have them well established.

Here are some suggestions on how to approach the recruitment.

You need to be able to answer to yourself what a candidate should have in order to be able to do their job:

  • What hard skills / knowledge they should possess;
  • What soft skills should they have;
  • What level of experience is acceptable;

Split the recruitment process in several steps that will measure some specific aspects of the candidate. E.g. in software engineering these are some examples of interviews:

  • coding interview;
  • behavioral interview;
  • analytical thinking interview;
  • system design interview;
  • object design interview;

Create checklists for different steps in the recruitment process to make sure you have all the information you need in order to be able to advance to next stages or make the hiring decision.

Onboarding Process

Individuals born in the latter years of the baby boom (1957-64) held an average of 12.3 jobs from ages 18 to 522. That is a job switch every 2.76 years. Conversely, 64% of millennial responders (born between 1980 and 1996) in a study3 said they believe that working in a role for 12 to 24 months to advance in their organization is reasonable.

Why are millennials so likely to move around? There are many potential reasons, but one could be their low engagement in the workplace. Gallup has found that only 29% of millennials are engaged at work, meaning only about three in 10 are emotionally and behaviorally connected to their job and company.4

A well defined onboarding process helps engage employees right from the start, which has a higher chance of retaining employees for longer.

Communication Processes

Communication is a topic that whenever it arises, people tend to ignore it since they assume they know it well. But in this case, by communication processes I refer to how the flow of communication in a team/company should be. It is about setting the right expectations for the employees regarding the workflow and the team/company objectives. In the end, communication is about the flow of information from the source to the destination.

Here are some specific use cases where a predefined way of passing information can help. Having answers to these questions and basic processes in place are going to be of tremendous help in the long run:

  • Who are the people that can help you find an answer in a specific domain/for a specific question?
  • What strategic directions to communicate to the team?
  • What feedback process is in place at your team? How a person can offer their thoughts on how to improve things safely?
  • Where to look to find an answer for a question/internal issue?
  • What is the process of reporting an issue you found?
  • What are some sources a person can consult to improve their efficiency?
  • What is the career advancements policy/conditions at your company?

Performance Evaluation Process

Employee Assessment is good for both employers and employees. On one hand, when a company knows who isn’t performing, it can do something about that (train them, move to different role, fire them). On the other hand, when an employee knows how they are going to be evaluated, it’s easier to set proper expectations and focus on the things that matter.

Two most prominent methods for performance evaluation of employees are:

  1. 360 degree assessment consists of multi-sided evaluations from superiors, team members and ones' self.
  2. SWOT analysis is a classic tool for evaluating strengths and weaknesses of an employee.

Conclusion

A formalized workflow makes work more predictable, allow for improvements of the workflow steps, have the potential to enforce team members' responsibility and accountability and removes the necessity to spend energy and resources on some unnecessary decisions.

Although it takes some time and effort to define and formalize those processes, the benefits of having them will pay off in the long run.


  1. Meeting Analysis: Findings from Research and Practice Nicholas Romano, Jay F. Nunamaker, 2001 ↩︎

  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Number of Jobs, Labor Market Experience, and Earnings Growth: Results From a National Longitudinal Survey.↩︎

  3. A Direct Look at the Largest Generation in the U.S. Labor Force and its Fundamental Impact on the Modern Workplace Akumina, Inc. ↩︎

  4. Millennials: The Job-Hopping Generation Gallup, Inc. ↩︎


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