Driving productivity and efficiencies to ensure a healthy bottom line is what all CEOs and company leaders work so hard to achieve. So in a competitive business landscape, just what is it that makes one company soar and another crash?
KYOCERA Document Solutions Australia’s Managing Director, David Finn, attributes exceptional productivity and efficiencies to the ability to foster an excellent corporate culture. We were lucky enough to pick his brain on just how he achieves this at KYOCERA and office productivity tips.
Q: How do you keep staff engaged and productive?
To me, it’s about removing all the barriers that are getting in the way of people achieving their goals - whether it’s to make 10 sales calls, or process accounts receivable.
Having motivating, feel-good sessions will last about two days, but the real long-term commitment from both sides is to make their job smooth, eliminate the disruption, and to allow a resource to resolve issues quickly so that they can move on to the next task.
You’ve got to take the view that most people wake up in the morning and want to do a good job - they want to feel good about themselves, get a sense of achievement and accomplish something.
So working out what stops people from doing their job or working out what really annoys them in their job is key. For example, it might be antiquated workflows and systems that are making it hard for them to do their job well, or slow, old equipment that hinders their processes.
If you eliminate that, then you get massive gains in efficiency, productivity, morale, less absenteeism and less problems in general. Once you get frustration in a role you get disengagement, and that’s what you want to avoid if you want good productivity levels.
Q: And how do you foster employee engagement?
It’s actually about empowerment rather than engagement - giving people a choice and the ability to control their environment, rather than enforcing a static environment.
In the 1920s, scientists ran an experiment called the Hawthorne Studies where they put workers in different situations - they had a test group and active group. The control group (test) had to listen to loud music and couldn’t turn the music down, and the active group had the same music at the same volume, but with a button to turn it down if they wanted to.
How did it affect their work? The group that had no control complained, were demotivated, and productivity went down; the active group performed normally, and they didn’t use the button, even though they had the choice to.
Q: How would you describe KYOCERA’s culture?
I’ve been here for 20 years, the executive team has been here on average for about 10 years, and we have long-term relationships with customers, so there’s a lot of stability in the company. Everyone’s seen how we respond to both crises and the good times, and this is underpinned by our culture.
Our motto is do the right thing as a human being. We’re all passengers in the same boat, just people who have different responsibilities.
We meet daily and we’re very engaged with the people. I know everyone’s name - all 80 people in the office, and all the people in the branches - I call them up to ask how they’re going, and if we find out someone is going through personal problems we encourage them to take some time off and offer our assistance.
Q: What are your office productivity tips for a great work culture?
Have healthy relationships with your staff and people around you. Office culture comes from the top, with a lot of support from the executive team. Everyone watches, so that sets the benchmark - and that’s why you have to walk the talk.
You have to be consistent - others may not agree with you, but they understand it’s a consistent behaviour and they can work with that. If you are inconsistent, that causes divisiveness - as a CEO you have to be friendly, but also stick to your morals and drive culture through that.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable and be honest about mistakes. You have to have moral compass and defend your rights, and it’s OK to get animated and get passionate about what you think, but also be humble and admit when you’re wrong. It’s like family - you may not always agree with each other, but everyone respects each other.
It’s the simple things, that’s what everyone forgets about business - it’s not about the hard dollars, it’s the sense of community. It’s the will to resolve issues so our staff can be as productive and efficient as they really want to be.
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