How Can Coaching Improve Productivity in the Workplace?

Many benefits are connected to productivity. Some of them are personal, like the feeling of accomplishment when you are productive or just feeling good about making progress. Others are good for the professional environment. For example, the more productive you are, the more results you provide. The better the results, the more likely you are to move up the company ladder or earn pay raise and/or bonuses. 

Unfortunately, productivity is often misunderstood as being busy. In other words, if I am busy, then I am being productive. Hmmm, not really. 

In an attempt to clear this misunderstanding, I decided to write this article and explain what productivity is and how coaching can help improve it in the workplace. Also, at the very end of the article, I share some signs that are a good indication that your employees might struggle with productivity. It is up to you then to decide whether you’d like to work with a coach or just find someone to help improve certain skills that could ultimately lead to improved productivity.

Now, let’s dig into productivity and everything it brings along.

What Is Productivity?

Productivity can be defined differently depending on our reference point (economic, workforce, personal, etc.). Since the focus of this article is to show how coaching can improve productivity in the workplace, we’ll be talking about personal productivity.

In a nutshell, personal productivity describes how much an individual can accomplish in a day, be it in their personal life or at work. However, productivity does not refer to quantity alone; it also takes quality of the work done into consideration. Why so? Well, you can mark 20 tasks done, but if most of them have to be edited or redone, then you’re not really being productive, are you?

One way to ensure employees are productive rather than just busy is to hire a professional coach who can work with both employees and the management. In case this is not possible for a company at the moment, there are many aspects of coaching that can be done by managers or other employees who are not coaches that can help increase productivity in the workplace.

Before we get into the benefits of productivity coaching, let’s briefly define a few additional concepts.

What Is Productivity Coaching?

Productivity coaching is the process of helping you manage your time efficiently so you can increase productivity on the activities that achieve the biggest results.

Mark Pettit

In addition, productivity coaching helps you gain clarity on your goals. It also helps you learn to prioritize better while getting continuous support from your productivity coach. Finally, if done correctly, productivity coaching will help you feel less stressed and overwhelmed, thus enabling you to work more effectively.

What does a Productivity Coach Do?

First of all, productivity coaches, just like any other coach, provide support on various levels: emotional, mental, and sometimes physical (some coaches incorporate fitness training or workouts as part of their service). Your productivity coach will be there to hear you out and approach whatever is bugging you with an open mind. 

Additionally, a productivity coach will help you identify areas of improvement and bottlenecks that are steering you away from your goals. What is more, the coach will help you set clear goals and create an activity plan to tackle the obstacles and improve your performance and therefore, your productivity as well.

How does Productivity Increase?

If we define productivity as how much an individual can get done in a day, then we can freely say that productivity is strongly tied to focus. Therefore, in order to be more productive, you need to be able to focus better. 

There are many activities you can do to improve your focus, but they all revolve around eliminating obstacles and organizing your time so that you can do the most important things during the periods of your highest focus. In other words, you need to determine when you’re least likely to get distracted, then eliminate all potential distractions and get down to work – this is when you’ll be most productive.

Of course, this is easier said than done, especially when we talk about a workplace. Despite many changes in the workplace, many of us still have working hours that don’t always overlap with our personal focus period. So, what can you do then?

Simple: adjust and experiment. Once you know your patterns, work with your coach or manager to help you adjust your habits to your work environment. Then, give it a try and observe. As you go along, change anything that doesn’t work and find better alternatives.

In addition to focus, your productivity levels will depend on your emotional, physical and mental state. For example, if you feel tired or are not in a good mood, it is very likely that your productivity levels will be lower. Of course, there are ways to deal with all these, but a general rule of thumb is to be aware of what’s going on with your mind and body and act accordingly. If you insist on working hard even when you’re tired or your mind wanders often, you’re just being busy, not very productive.

How Coaching Can Improve Employee Productivity

There are many ways coaching can be used to improve productivity in the workplace. I have chosen the 6 steps listed below because they can be done not only by a professional coach, but a team leader or a manager as well. As I’ve mentioned already, working with a professional coach will be more effective and efficient, but if your company is not in a situation to do that just yet, the management team can easily use the steps below to help employees increase their productivity.

Ask Questions to Find Solutions

Yes, I know, we all have limited time and can’t always wait for employees to come up with their own solutions to problems. Sometimes, it’s just easier to tell them what the solution is. Agreed. BUT… in the long run, it is always better to help employees find their own solutions and alternatives while teaching them how to do it in the most efficient way possible.

If you’re helping a person solve a problem, ask a lot of questions that will guide them to come up with their own alternatives. For example, instead of giving your own solution, start by asking something along the lines of “How do you think we could approach this problem?”, “What do you think might be a good way to tackle this problem?”. 

And then, if you get an idea, probe for more. For example, “That’s great! What else comes to mind?” or “OK, anything else you’d like to try?”. The more alternatives you get, the more enthusiastic the employee will be to get started and start testing. 

Finally, work with the person on outlining the pros and cons of the proposed solution and help the person choose a solution to start with. Remember, you shouldn’t be the one to propose and/or choose the solution. You’re there to guide and offer support.

Also, make sure to praise the employee on the work well done. Praise is a strong motivator for productivity and you’d be surprised how much output a few nice words can generate.

Give Regular Feedback

If you’ve read any of my other articles, you’ll know by now that I talk about feedback a lot. And with a good reason.

Positive feedback strengthens performance. People will naturally go the extra mile when they feel recognized and appreciated.

Daniel Nilsson

Long story short: when feedback is given in the right way and consistently, the employees will be more likely to be more productive. In case you’d like to learn more about constructive feedback, feel free to read my article on 4 rules to make your feedback count

Keep Employees Accountable

Once you create an activity plan or set goals with your employees, make sure to keep them accountable for the work they’ve signed up for. Schedule regular check-ins with your employees to track progress and talk about potential obstacles or issues that need to be addressed. Also, remember to set up a one-on-one to talk about these goals/tasks and their progress. 

Please, note that all accountability check-ins and meetings should be scheduled separately from your regular one-on-ones because they’re designed to follow up on a particular plan or an agreement you had with the person.

Keeping people accountable will motivate them to be more productive and get more done. Most people don’t enjoy letting others down, so if they’ve committed to completing a task and/or reaching a goal, with regular check-ins and accountability, they’ll be more likely to follow through, thus increasing their productivity the right way.

Help Employees Prioritize

People are more likely to get things done if they know exactly what they’re doing and why they’re doing it in the first place. So, when assigning tasks to your employees, make sure to set clear expectations and give clear instructions. Clarity is very important in order for employees to be able to complete their tasks. 

Once that’s out of the way, work with the employees on the importance of each task or a goal. Not everything needs or can be done right here and right now. This is where coaching comes in. The coach can work with the management team on setting goals if needed so that enough clarity is provided from the very beginning. Then the coach will work with employees on how to organize their time in the best way possible to complete the most important tasks at their peak productivity time. 

Often, just by asking questions about a certain task, the coach helps an employee get organized. These questions cover the scope of the task, how it relates to other tasks, obstacles that need to be tackled and who might need to help in order to complete the given task.

Sometimes, just by seeing the whole scope outlined, the employee is able to organize better, prioritize and focus on the right things at the right time.

Reduce Stress and Overwhelm

When you adopt less stressful ways of thinking about work, you can be more productive and efficient with your time.

Mark Pettit

As mentioned earlier, one of the benefits of working with a productivity coach is gaining clarity and improving employees’ organizational skills. This alone helps reduce stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed. The more stressed and/or overwhelmed an employee is, the less productive he or she will be. 

Ideally, the coach will help eliminate stress from the employee’s daily routine. However, even if they manage to just reduce it to the amount that’s not impeding their productivity, it’s a step in the right direction.

Provide Learning Opportunities

Working with a productivity coach enables employees to detect their weaknesses and areas that need improvement. This is a great starting point for the company to be able to create appropriate learning plans for employees to improve and grow. If the company knows exactly what to focus on, it saves time and money on learning plans. Also, it provides the most tailored opportunities for its employees to develop and improve their skills. 

Knowing that the company cares for them and their professional development increases employee engagement, loyalty and productivity. Remember, when people feel genuinely appreciated, they tend to give back more than expected.

3 Signs That Your Employees May Need a Productivity Coach

As you go through these, please keep in mind that these signs need to be somewhat consistent over a period of time. If any of these happen once in a while, it might just mean that your employee is struggling with something else that is affecting his or her performance. So, the first thing you should do is talk to the person. Now, if this is something consistent or both of you agree that a coach might help, then you know what to do next.

They Keep Missing Deadlines

Missing deadlines is usually connected to poor time management skills. Employees underestimate the time needed to complete a task or their time available to do the task required. A productivity coach can help identify the cause of this misplaced sense of time and help the employee improve in this area.

They Are Constantly Tired

This is typically a sign that the employee has too much on his or her plate. The reason for that can be poor organizational skills or not enough time off. A productivity coach can help employees learn to take breaks, not pile things up and start approaching work without stress and anxiety.

Lack of Focus

If an employee is finding it difficult to focus on one task at a time or stay focused enough to complete a task at hand, they may be in need of a productivity coach. The coach will help them get back the focus needed to complete their daily workload without creating additional stress and frustration.

Remember to Follow Up

Coaching is not a quick fix. It is important to constantly continue to coach and be engaged in the employee. The work never stops

Daniel Nilsson

Try to create routines that will help your employees improve continuously. Ultimately, you’ll want them to continue working in these routines even without your help. However, that does not mean that once employees are good on their own, you should just forget about them. As Mr. Nilsson would say, the work never stops

A simple way to do it is to have a quarterly meeting with your team members and check in on them once you’re not doing it on a more regular basis. This will tell them that you still care. And remember, when people feel looked after, they will want to return the favor and keep the relationship balanced.

If you need help getting your team to the next level, schedule a free consultation with me and let’s talk about it.

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