Problems recruiting? Get more out of current team

Almost every company I talk to is hiring right now. Many companies are losing out on revenue because they do not have enough people to do the work. With unemployment low and the economy strong, this market is almost hopeless for recruiting.

Don’t lose hope — let’s change the conversation: if you could get more productivity out of your existing teams, you might be able to still satisfy your clients’ needs without having to bring on more team members. There are a variety of ways that you can get more productivity out of your current team. My focus today is going to be sharing with you three quick hacks to get more for less (and happier employees).

Hack number one: Get people doing what they’re hardwired to do. One of the fastest ways to get more productivity out of employees is to make sure that they’re doing what they are born to do — their strengths. A strength is a skill plus personality. When I graduated, I knew how to program (skill), but I did not have the personality for programming (alone for eight hours a day doing details).  To understand hardwiring, you can use one of the hundreds of personality assessments available on the market.  You’ll want to examine the results and compare it to your employee’s work.  There are probably components of the job that do not map to their personality, and you’re not getting as much as possible.  You want to move people into roles that take advantage of their strengths. I’ll warn you — assessments can be expensive.

The second hack is a cheaper alternative. Get your team together and have them list out their various job responsibilities under four separate headings:  “What do you love doing AND you’re great at it,” “what do you like doing AND are just good at,” “what do you hate doing but you’re good at,” and “what are you terrible at and you hate doing.”

Spend a week having everyone on the team filling this in, understanding what parts of their job fit in with these different categories. As a leader this can be a tough activity to run because some people are going to feel like they can’t be vulnerable around the areas that they don’t like doing. You might not like some of the answers but get over it. You’re not getting the most productivity out of them if you’re asking them to do something that they hate doing. They’re probably not very efficient at it, it’s probably sloppy work, and it drains them of energy that could be spent doing activities they are much better at.

A few years ago I had someone on my team writing resumes, and she was very good at it, but after doing this exercise, it told me that she actually really hated doing it. My first reaction was to say, “But this is your job!” However, I quickly realized that I was going to lose her as an employee unless I worked to get someone else in that role.  We eventually transferred this work to someone else on the team who was more hardwired for it.

The third hack is so old-school, I know you’re going to roll your eyes: set clear goals. Almost everybody I talk to says, “I don’t really understand my role” or “I’m not sure how my work impacts the company.”  It is not helpful to your employees to set vague goals. It’s the beginning of the year, so hopefully you’ve set some specific, measurable, with deadlines, and realistic goals for your team. Once the goals are defined, I recommend you have very regular interactions with your team against these goals to make sure that your employees stay on track.

I think you can get 10-25 percent more productivity from your current team if you take time today to think about these tips. And you’ll also have happier employees!

Kendra Prospero is the CEO and founder of Turning the Corner, a Boulder-based organization that does recruiting the way it should be done for job seekers and companies.

Almost every company I talk to is hiring right now. Many companies are losing out on revenue because they do not have enough people to do the work. With unemployment low and the economy strong, this market is almost hopeless for recruiting.

Don’t lose hope — let’s change the conversation: if you could get more productivity out of your existing teams, you might be able to still satisfy your clients’ needs without having to bring on more team members. There are a variety of ways that you can get more productivity out of your current team. My focus today is going to be sharing with you three quick hacks to get more for less (and happier employees).

Hack number one: Get people doing what they’re hardwired to do. One of the fastest ways to get more productivity out of employees is to make sure that they’re doing what they are born to do — their strengths. A strength is a skill plus personality. When I graduated, I knew how to program (skill), but I did not have the personality for programming (alone for eight hours a day doing details).  To understand hardwiring, you can use one of the hundreds of personality assessments available on the market.  You’ll want to examine the results and compare it to your employee’s work.  There are probably components of the job that do not map to their personality, and you’re not getting as much as…