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Enablement is the key to happier, more productive teamsBusiness hours are precious. Making the most of them is critical

When poor tools, organisational obstacles and convoluted processes frustrate employees, time is lost and productivity suffers. And that's a problem no amount of after-work pizzas, break-room foosball  or high-tech nap-pods will be able to fix.

 

But it's important to stay realistic, and let's face it....who doesn't get frustrated on the job from time to time? I'm not talking about grumbling over the pile of dirty coffee cups in the kitchen, or chasing the team for their weekly timesheets over and over. I'm talking about that energy sapping, motivation destroying frustration that surfaces when you're simply trying to do your job well, but can't. When the systems, tools and processes that are supposed to help, only hold you back. 

Research by the Hay Group has found that frustrated employees make up 20% or more of the workforce of a typical company. That has an impact far beyond the obviously inefficient processes. When otherwise committed and capable people grow frustrated because they are not enabled to perform, the cost of high staff-turnover is added to that of lost of productivity.

The symptoms of a frustrated workforce are often misdiagnosed as poor morale and treated with a course of team building activities, rewards and recognition. However, the real challenge for business owners is not necessarily building higher levels of motivation, but rather taking better advantage of the motivation they already have. That means enabling teams with the tools and practices they need to perform productively.

What's an almost universally frustrating experience? Email.

Email is one of the top factors leading to lost productivity won't come as a surprise to anyone who has struggled to cover holiday leave for a colleague or tried to look back and reconstruct a chain of events.  

The State of Enterprise Work study conducted by Workfront in 2015 found that sending, responding to and sorting email gets in the way of productive work for 40% of office workers. And yet, over 80% rate email as an effective form of communication. 

In our experience staff often accept, albeit begrudgingly, time wasting and inefficiency due to poor email management practices simply because they can see no alternative. In this situation, where motivation to succeed is not paired support in the work environment, employees can be expected to respond in one of three ways:

  1. Break through. Some employees may find ways to break through the barriers and implement solutions that support their own personal productivity
  2. Break down. Other frustrated employees may simply decide that giving their best effort is not worth their time and stop trying.
  3. Break away. High performers with ambitions for a successful career can be expected to vote with their feet and leave in search of new opportunities.

Building happier, more productive teams can be achieved by ensuring those who are willing and motivated to perform are also enabled to do so. This can include:

  • Providing the tools, information, and other resources employees need to be efficient and effective;
  • Providing clear direction about business priorities to help people focus on the highest-value tasks;
  • Encouraging superior levels of teamwork within and across business units to help everyone cope with work demands; and
  • Supporting training, development, and enrichment opportunities to ensure that employees have the skills and authority to get the job done.

Capable people, who are both highly engaged and enabled to perform, can lead to dramatically better productivity, improved financial results, and more loyal customers. 

 Download the Smart Guide to Managing Business Email