productivityIf there’s one question leaders always have to ask themselves it’s this … “How do I get more productivity out of the people I’m leading without coming off like a big jerk?” (Btw, if you never asked this question you really need to read this because chances are you’re already a jerk.)

Whether you are heading up a volunteer effort, pastor a church, or own a business, we as leaders have all asked this same question at some point.

How do I get more?

It’s a good question. Let’s be honest. Better productivity translates to more profit, more effectiveness, and more impact. But how do we get it?

I can say that over the years I have worked under many different leaders with all sorts of leadership styles. And, whether it’s been in a paid capacity or a volunteer one I have seen both leaders who’ve excelled at getting more productivity from their people and those who’ve just made a habit of pissing their followers off. What was the difference?

There are a myriad of factors that go into the difference between a leader who’s effective at increasing productivity and one who struggles. However, I want to give you 5 simple things that I believe will help you immediately if you incorporate them into your leadership style today.

1. Balance criticism with encouragement. This is one is huge. No one likes working for someone who only let’s you know when something sucks. On the other hand, if you are afraid to let people know when things need to pick up you look like a pushover and you end up getting stuck with mediocre results. Let your people know when they are killing it but also don’t be afraid to challenge them when needed.

2. Show confidence in them. People who are asked to serve or lead want to know that those who are leading them have some trust in their abilities. If you are always questioning their work or asking for second and third opinions you communicate to your people that you really don’t believe in them. Following a leader who doesn’t believe in you sucks and eventually they’ll stop believing in you too which hurts their productivity.

3. Stop making it about you. One of the worse things is an egocentric leader. No one likes following a guy who is only concerned with himself. When asking someone to pick up their efforts make it more about the big picture and the benefit to that individual rather than yourself. Saying, “Hey, I really think if you do this better it will help you tremendously” sounds way better than, “Man, you are killing me and making my life hell.” People are more inclined to work harder when they believe it’s going to benefit them as well.

4. Stop frustrating them. Listen, we have followers and employees to help make our lives easier. It’s called delegation and it’s critical to good leadership. That being said, don’t be the jerk that takes people for granted and never does anything to help their followers or employees out. Try to give them direction when they ask for it. Answer emails in a timely manner and return phone calls when someone has a question or needs your ear for minute. Don’t be the guy who says, “You need to do this better but I have no idea how to do that and I’m not going to spend any time coaching you … good luck.” People work harder for someone who they believe is in their corner and wants to help them achieve their goals.

5. Be respectful of their time. Paid or volunteer, it doesn’t matter. Time is the most valuable commodity because it can’t ever be replaced. When you are sloppy with scheduling, late for meetings, and blowing up email inboxes when people are at home with their families you give the message that their lives are less important than yours. People need to feel respected and respect begets respect. I’ll work a lot harder for someone who respects my time than a person who acts like I’m just living to be at their beckon call. Be respectful to your team and watch their productivity soar.

Increasing productivity isn’t easy. Getting others to do the same is even harder. But, if you encourage an atmosphere of teamwork, respect, and encouragement your followers will find themselves emotionally in a better place and happy, healthier workers are often the hardest and most loyal ones.