In a busy working day, it can be difficult to prioritise tasks and to get them all completed – never mind finding time to evaluate exactly what is working and what isn’t and to put solutions into practice.

This can be done a lot easier if there is something visual in place, where if any issues in terms of workflow arise – this can be seen quickly and allow for immediate action.  There are some great project management software tools out there that can help with this, but we thought we’d focus on Kanban boards. The Kanban board is explained in more detail here which is worth the read, however we thought we’d let you know how and why they are making workforces more productive below.

What is a Kanban Board?

A Kanban board is used for visualising your workflow within a company.  It can be used as an overall department tracker, or it can be used for individuals.

Originally these were created on whiteboards but have become more sophisticated since then- where there is digital software that can be used.  On Kanban boards there are columns that will split out the workflow, then what are known as swimlanes where the different kinds of activities are inputted within that workflow.  As soon as you begin to start on a project or task – you pop in one a Kanban card, and then mark off as you progress through each stage.  This allows you to see when every stage of the process is complete.

How Does it Help you Spot Problems and Increase Productivity?

Due to the visualisation of Kanban boards, you will be able to see with ease any problems that arise.  If there is a column where there is a clear trend, that the work is adding up significantly without moving on to the next stage – that there is an issue with that element of the project.  It won’t just be noticeable to you, but to everyone that is part of that team.

It could be that it’s not a long-term issue, for example someone could be on holiday or maternity leave which could be slowing certain parts of the process down, however you should be able to tell using common sense if there is a procedural problem.

To use this tool as effectively a possible – it’s important that you input as many stages of the process in as possible.  That way, it will be able to allow you to drill down into the specific areas on a more granular level.

Although you may have to invest a little bit of time in terms of getting this set up as it should be, it will save you a lot of time when it comes to review meetings and progress meetings.

Are their Other Ways to Make People more Productive?

There are lots of other ways to make your employees more productive that doesn’t require software.  You want to make sure that they are motivated too – which you can do by motivating them and making sure that they are taken care of.

Introducing Life Coaches

This is a trend that is becoming increasingly popular in businesses, particularly in industries such as digital marketing agencies where the place a massive emphasis on company culture and creating an environment where employees want to stay.  Having a life coach visit on a regular basis can be exactly what employees need to give them someone to improve their stress levels and time management skills. It also sends the message straight away that you care.  It doesn’t need to be a permanent residency thing – you can get pop-up coaches that will attend your office at specific times or days, and you can let employees know when this will be. Alternatively, this can be included as part of your employee benefits scheme – where you partner with a life coach and offer the people that work for you credit to go and see them.

Team Days

Team days are a great way to get employees out in a different arena.  It allows you and the rest of your team the opportunity to get to know them in a way you perhaps haven’t before.  This means that the tea will work together a little better, and it also creates a different kind of atmosphere where they can have open conversations with you.  As well as this, it’s also just a treat – and lets them know that you appreciate them.  Try to do these on a fairly regular basis – it doesn’t need to be something that costs a lot of money, you could even just have a games day in your office.

Regular Performance Reviews and Appraisals

Performance appraisals are incredibly important in terms of getting to know your staff better and developing them.  Often, they will give you information on how they see themselves progressing along with ideas as to how to make that happen. It could be that they want to upskill in certain areas of the business, or that there is something that they feel they need to have more information on.   They could also have some suggestions as to further things that you could implement for better productivity levels that you may not have thought of.  You should make sure that these are booked in regularly, and that it’s not a meeting that you cancel or reschedule.  Making an employee feel as if they are part of the decision-making process is essential.

Make sure you Provide them with the Proper Equipment

If you are using online Kanban boards, this is only effective if you have the appropriate equipment to use them properly.  If you have issues such as slow broadband, or poor IT strategies in place – then this can dramatically decrease productivity levels if there is a constant stop and start issue when it comes to workflow. There are lots of IT experts out there that will be able to implement and manage the correct strategy for your business.  In fact, a lot of them offer free consultations and come up with the appropriate solutions for you, so there are no upfront costs. Even if it does end up costing a little money getting things into place as they should be, in the long run – it could save you much more than you think.  Even simple things like implementing Office 365 to make file sharing easier – can make all the difference to your company and stress levels.  You can even purchase refurbished equipment, that won’t cost you as much as investing in brand new state of the art computers.

Kanban boards are a great way to increase productivity within team members.  Sometimes seeing is believing, and this is definitely the case here.  Make sure you identify any issues quickly and correct them accordingly.  Don’t neglect the other ways that you can help your staff be more productive though, staff morale is crucial in ensuring that employees work to the best of their ability and efficiently.