Managing Managers: How to Cut Busy Work and Boost Productivity

October 13, 2016


By Marlena Stoddard

No matter what role an individual plays in a company, they need to be as productive as possible while on the clock. Therefore, it is important that managers implement policies that allow workers to get as much accomplished each day while eliminating as many frivolous tasks as possible. What are some ways that managers and employees stay busy without engaging in busywork?

Empower Employees to Make Decisions

While some level of managerial oversight is necessary to make sure company policies are followed, employees should not be micromanaged. Let’s say that a customer was looking for a television and the only model available was the one displayed on the sales floor. If there is no one around to approve that request, the person on the sales floor should be allowed to decide whether or not to sell it.

Obviously, the right call is to sell that display model and properly serve the needs of the customer. Forcing that employee to wait around for approval not only wastes that employee’s time, it could upset the customer and cause him or her to go elsewhere to make future purchases. By allowing employees to make common sense choices, it also frees up management to take care of more pressing issues.

Don’t Be Afraid to Cut Hours If Necessary

There may be days when there simply isn’t enough work to do to justify keeping an employee around for a full eight hour shift. In that scenario, it may be best to send that worker home and save on payroll costs for the day. For salaried workers, they may be able to make those hours up during a busier day or week or during the typically busy holiday season.

By allowing workers to go home early when there is nothing to do, it keeps them fresh for when it is legitimately busy and they need to be focused on the job. The prospect of leaving early for the day may also encourage them to get their work done in a more timely manner, which may boost productivity while he or she is being useful for the company.

Have HR Look Into Management Performance

If an employee is feeling motivated, they will generally do more than if they feel disrespected or otherwise not valued by a manager. Therefore, HR should keep an eye on which departments have the most complaints to determine if that they could benefit from a change in leadership. Most human resources software will allow the HR department to keep track of performance, complaints, and requests. Ideally, a manager will know how to lead his or her team as opposed to simply barking orders all day. Good managers will also know what motivates each person individually and craft strategies to make sure they are all reaching their potential and beyond.

Make Sure Managers Know What Their Roles Are

Different companies have different ideas as to what a manager should do. Some believe that the role of a manager is to be a motivator who is well liked and respected while others believe that a manager should have good technical skills over people skills. If a manager doesn’t know what he or she is expected to do, it may cause confusion and lead to unclear directions to employees. To boost productivity and cut down on busy work, business owners should be clear about what they want from managers and how they should lead their teams.

When employees are working but not getting anything done, they are costing the company money. They may also feel as if their work is not valuable, which could start a sustained decline in their willingness to contribute to the best of their ability.

marlena-stoddard-headshotMarlena Stoddard is a freelance writer who received her BA from the University of Georgia. She currently resides in Atlanta with her husband, two kids, and puppy Molly Belle.