I was recently chatting to the HR Director of one of Australia’s leading financial services organisations. We discussed the appointment of her company’s new CEO, and the changes that had been made across her organisation over a very short period of time.

“We’ve never been communicated to so regularly,” she explained. “He [!the!] provides regular updates on board meetings, lets us know what his priorities are for the organisation, and what he is personally doing to help move the business forward. Engagement scores have improved up by 30%.”

Her CEO used every forum available in order to provide transparency to his staff and inspire them to maintain their focus on company strategy.

Generally speaking, this technique reduces anxiety, unites employees, and encourages them to align their day-to-day actions with the company’s goals.

Here are 5 subtle ways business leaders can encourage productivity:

1.        Keep company strategy at the centre of every interaction

By ensuring all messages were communicated through a lens of the company’s top priorities, the CEO mentioned above was able to continue to keep everyone’s focus on strategy.

Every message you send out, every presentation you lead, and every meeting you attend should centre around the company’s goals and priorities. Just taking a minute to clarify how a specific action relates to the achievement of company goals ensures everyone is heading in the same direction.

This subtle change leads to greater organisational effectiveness.

2.      Be clear about organisational values

Values should define culture; they should tell your employees how things are done. Values shouldn’t just be a handful of statements found in employee induction packs.

Refer to the values when you discuss company strategy, when you reward employees and when you discipline them. More importantly, hire people who identify with your values.

You want employees who live and breathe your values because that’s who they are, rather than how they’ve been told to behave.

3.       Develop and foster group-wide productive habits

Habits can be the making or breaking of a business–pay close attention to them.

The three biggest time wasters in most environments are too many emails, meetings and interruptions. Other habits that erode company productivity include the creation of silos and the encouragement of internal politics, and game playing.

Encourage your leaders to focus on developing and fostering one group-wide habit every month or quarter. Before you know it, your organisation will be operating like a well-oiled machine.

You may choose habits which relate to the three big time wasters such as:

  • Always starting and finishing meetings on time;
  • Discouraging needless email communication; and
  • Encouraging team members to use ‘do not disturb’ protocols when doing important work.

When you get your whole team to commit to key habits together, you encourage a culture of collaboration.

4.      Make coaching a priority

If your team members aren’t learning, they aren’t leading.

When you encourage your team to ensure every team member has a successor, you create a learning culture, reduce key person risk, encourage strong employee relationships, and gain improvements in recruitment and retention metrics.

Provide formal and informal opportunities for coaching and development at all levels.

Encourage your leaders to take responsibility for attracting and developing talent for the firm and include these in their KPIs.

5.       Create opportunities for the team to socialise

During the Global Financial Crisis many companies cancelled staff entertainment such as quarterly functions and end of year parties.

On the surface this may have appeared prudent and diligent in managing discretionary costs. However, the result of fewer opportunities for team members to get to know each other across different business areas, resulted in the reduction of long term revenue growth.

I recommend organising a few social interactions which don’t involve alcohol. Going to drinks every now and then is fine, but won’t suit everyone in your company. Staff who aren’t comfortable socialising in large groups will opt out or only speak to people they know.

Team activities like charity days, cross company professional development courses, and team building challenges encourage people to work together in different ways and promotes the kind of understanding required to truly work as a productive team.