If there is one goal that all Chief HR Officers and HR professionals seek to achieve every day, it is to be able to maximize their productivity.
If you try to look closely, you’ll be amazed at how much time you end up wasting on a daily basis. One very common form is to log on to social media for “10 minutes” and spending hours without even realising.
How you manage your time and day has a direct bearing on how your teams and employees perform. Unlocking an employee’s full potential is a CHRO’s key function, but this cannot be done unless they are extremely productive themselves.
While high productivity is an inherent trait for a select few individuals, most of us need to resort to shortcuts and hacks. These hacks alone are not enough though. The first step to achieving greater productivity and to making better use of your time is to know what you need to do. Once you know what is expected of you, you can perform better. The next step is to consistently make use of the best techniques and practices to achieve success.
Therefore, here are some of the most practical, high functioning and genius productivity hacks to ensure complete maximization of your time:
#1. Practice time blocking
Used by many of the world’s most successful businessmen and executives, time blocking is an art you need to master if you want to make the most out of every day. In time blocking, you first need to analyze what your tasks for the day or week are going to be. Then, you divide these tasks in small blocks containing individual actions that when performed would lead up to the completion of the task.
Essentially, every task is broken down into its smallest possible actionable units. Each individual unit, or sub-task, is then allotted a specific time frame during the day within which it needs to be completed. Elon Musk is known to be an ardent follower of this method, which is how he is able to manage two multi-billion dollar companies simultaneously.
One key factor as part of time-blocking is the ability to do only one task at a time and avoid the tendency to multi task. This brings us to the next productivity hack…
#2. Say NO to multi-tasking
Many people pride themselves on being great multi-taskers, but research shows that the brain just can’t effectively digest information from lots of different sources at once.
Scientifically, if you put your concentration on one task only, you will achieve it faster than you would if you coupled it with even one other task, reason being undivided focus. Therefore, if you are really committed to maximizing your productivity, a general rule of thumb to follow is to…
#3. No phones at work
Another general rule of thumb to follow is ‘no phones at work’. Whether you work from home, from a cubicle or from a corner office, your mobile phone will be extremely distracting. When your cell phone is out of sight during working hours, it frees you from the constant need to check for messages or just waste hours on social media.
#4. Change the way you manage your inbox
There is no doubt about the fact that email is an essential part of work, especially as an HR executive. You may need to assign tasks to your teams or employees, get reports and collect constant updates. However, continuously checking your inbox is not the right approach. In order to ensure that your inbox is managed effectively and efficiently, you need to set slots of 30-45 minutes every day specifically for checking and reply to your mails.
A good way to go about this is to have one slot set for the beginning of your day, and one halfway through the day. You must also communicate your slot timings to your team members so that they know when to expect updates from you. You can also make use of apps such as Productive Inbox, SimplyFile, or Boomerang for Gmail that let you manage your inbox.
#5. Master the A-B-C-1-2-3 technique
Another great psychology backed technique to enhance productivity is the ABC123 technique. Here, the first step is to classify your tasks into three categories –A, B and C – based on the quantum of impact they have on the business. The next step is to assign a level of urgency – 1, 2 or 3, for each task under each category. Task A1 would one that has very high impact on the business and is of utmost priority, while task C3 would neither have as much impact nor urgency.
This method helps you craft an effective strategy for tackling your daily tasks and accomplish more in a day.
#6. Automation is the key to success
There are many HR processes that are extremely routine and monotonous in nature. Some examples are payroll and benefits administration, employee onboarding, inviting and segregating applications for an opening, etc.
As an HR executive, it is your job to make sure that such tasks are automated and that employees spend the better part of their time on crucial and creative processes such brainstorming sessions, strategy making, working on A1 level tasks etc. Automation is the key to success in this era of digital transformation.
#7. Scheduled check-ins
Simply working all the time will not help achieve your goals. You need to periodically monitor your performance, match it with set standards and take corrective action as required for deviations if any. As an HR executive, it becomes essential that you schedule weekly check-ins with your teams in order to assess performance and ensure that all of your targets are met.
#8. Treat employees well
For any business, customer satisfaction is the number one priority. But, it is important to understand that if your employees are not happy, they will not be able to keep your customers satisfied. Keeping employees happy does not mean saying “Good Morning” every day, but it means making sure they are taken care of and treated like family, not slaves.
As an HR executive, you must make sure your employees feel at home when they are working. This brings us to the next productivity hack.
#9. Create an environment that gets you excited to work
Your offices and work culture need to get your employees excited to work. If you look at images of Google’s offices, you will see that the offices are designed in a way that employees are motivated to work from the moment they step in. Not just that, there are gyms, sleeping rooms and spas on campus for employees to take a break from time to time and retain productivity. Same goes for the headquarters of Marvel Studios, that actually has the costumes of the various superheroes on display in the corridors and has an interior décor that cultivates creativity.
#10. Make healthy living an easy choice
Just as important as providing a great work environment is to make sure that employee health is well taken care of. A 2014 study by the UK’s Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, shows there’s a direct correlation between employee wellness and job performance. As an HR executive, you must build wellness centres in the workplace, such as a yoga studio or a gym.
One issue that many HR executives face is employees missing lunch to work. Skipping lunch has been shown to affect employees’ productivity and job satisfaction. You should also make sure that healthy eating options are available in the canteen or cafeteria. The core idea is that your employees should work better, not longer, and therefore should take adequate breaks and remain productive.
#11. Use HR tools to encourage collaboration
In this digital age, businesses need to move into the future with virtual collaboration tools such as Salesforce Chatter, that allow cross-functional teams to connect, collaborate, share files, data, and expertise, all in real-time and from any location around the world.
These platforms and tools not only encourage better communication flow, but also put an end to the ever-increasing email chains.
#12. Create a culture that gives back
We’re living in a time where people often struggle to find value and meaning in their work. Empowering your employees to make a difference in the world is one thing you must strive to achieve as an HR executive. When your employees feel like they are contributing towards advancing society, it will not only have a huge impact on their engagement, but will also help retain the company’s top talent.
#13. Say NO when needed
All employees and team members what to contribute to the company’s growth and each one of them has a lot of innovative and creative ideas. While you may wish to be flexible and supportive, it may not always align with the company’s objectives. Therefore, you may need to say no sometimes. Thus, it is important to set boundaries and to know your limits if you want to be efficient with your time.
#14. Engage in creative activities
While ensuring the best standards for employees and your working environment, HR executives sometimes forget to take care of themselves. Thus, engaging in creative activities in your downtime can actually help you to recover from work and boost productivity during working hours.
#15. Make the most out of your meetings
One of the most creative and highly valued companies – Amazon has a very rich culture that is highly conducive to employee productivity. One of their policies is the famous “2 Pizza Rule”, which states that any team created should be only big enough that it can be fed with two pizzas. The core logic is that if there are too many people, it can make meetings less productive.
Another technique that they follow is to not have any PowerPoint presentations in the meeting. Instead, the entire team reads all the required documents and research in the first hour of the meeting and then discuss the ideas. The idea behind this practice is to make sure no member bluffs about having read the document and simply fills in the gaps.
#16. Use technology to streamline your efforts
Digital transformation has redefined the role of HR executives. Advanced tools and software can now handle a wide range of HR functions and offer self-service tools for your workforce. They can take over recruitment, onboarding, induction and training, and many such functions. The HR executives can, thus, spend their time on creative, strategic and analytic process and not worry about the monotonous functions.
#17. Prepare for tomorrow today
This may seem like some kind of philosophical quote, but it is definitely the best practice to follow. Before you end your day, you must dedicate about 10 minutes to document all the tasks that need to be achieved the next day. Then, you need to implement the ABC123 technique and prioritize tasks. These 10 minutes today will make for a productive tomorrow.
#18. Organize annual company retreats
This is one of the best practices to ensure your employees are motivated and dedicated, and that they remain productive throughout the year. Now you do not need to organize exotic retreats – just a weekend getaway to the outskirts of the city would do to.
At these retreats, make sure you make your employees engage in team activities, games and have a great time. This will leave them with lasting memories, enhance team coordination and make sure the ‘newbies’ get a chance to make new friends and get to know their colleagues. After all, “A team that plays together and stays together, wins together!”
Much like falling dominoes, adopting the right practices and tactics can help you to exert more influence and be a greater force in the workplace. As the CHRO, it becomes your job to only ensure the employees perform well individually and collectively, but also to make sure that goals, targets and objectives are met in an effective and efficient manner.
With the help of these hacks, you can not only maximize your productivity, but also make sure that your employees, teams and the company as a whole perform exceptionally.