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Get more done without growing your team

The old adage “work smarter, not harder” is true when it comes to a small team’s productivity. Small businesses and start-ups will have to be smart about their work if they want to get more done. Sometimes hiring extra staff members is not an option, both financially and due to time constraints.

Utilising existing resources to the best of your ability is the smartest way to achieve your work goals. This also does not mean that you need to overwork your team – in fact, you should avoid pushing them past their breaking points otherwise you will lose your resources.

Here are some ideas that will let you achieve more without growing your team.

Find out what is consuming your time

Most small businesses have a few recurring issues that consume many hours. You need to identify these problems that eat away at your team’s time and eliminate them if possible. Saving time is central to working smarter.

You can set up and use software systems that track time management and tasks. Rather than keeping track of your employees’ hours, use the software to identify the tasks that are taking an abnormal amount of time.

Sometimes mundane tasks take the longest, so identifying these will allow you to make the decision to cut them out. You’ll get a good understanding of what needs fixing by looking at the recurring problems. Confusing copy creating loads of emails from consumers? Change it. Annoying bugs in your code? Re-work it.

Your team’s time is far better used when working on unique issues and developing the best business possible.

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Facilitate customer self-service

Dealing with customers can consume a lot of time, so one smart technique is to facilitate customer self-service. If you can help customers help themselves, you’ll save a lot of time for your team.

Give your customers access to knowledge through frequently asked questions (FAQs) pages on your website, or by creating informative content that they can refer to themselves. Building this knowledge base may take effort but will actually save a lot of time in the long run.

Simply having a knowledge base is not good enough on its own – it has to be high-quality, easy to understand and super informative. Update it regularly to include the latest FAQs, produce content based on the information you keep receiving from your customers and try to get feedback on whether your knowledge base is actually useful.

Aim for first contact resolution

There are few things more infuriating than being passed back and forth between call centre agents while they try to solve a problem. Not only does this waste time, but it also makes your team seem incompetent.

Aim to find a solution for the customer through the first contact (i.e. the first employee to speak to a customer should be able to answer their questions and provide a solution). Resolving the customer’s problem in a single interaction will save you time and resources. The customer is also far more likely to be satisfied with the results.

The same goes for email interactions and live chat support – try to resolve the issue in a single response or interaction. This will reduce the load in your team’s email inboxes and make their jobs less stressful too.

Two men shaking hands over a desk

Automate tedious tasks

Where possible, you should try to automate simple time-consuming tasks. Setting up spreadsheets, for example, can now be automated through Google Sheets. You can record actions and automatically repeat them on a number of other sheets. This means that you only need to create one spreadsheet and the software will duplicate it multiple times.

There are also a number of apps and software tools that allow you to save time by automating tasks. Some help with sorting and filing, others handle email communication through common replies. Gmail already offers this feature – allowing you to use a common reply with the touch of a button.

Good software should do the work for you, without your team having to spend more time on the software. It should clear mundane tasks from their schedule and allow them to use their time more efficiently.

Have team guidelines and processes in place

You can save time by making sure that your team knows exactly what process needs to be followed. Have guidelines that outline these common processes so that your team is all on the same page.

Simple guidelines like email templates, style guides, a glossary of terms and company values are useful tools for ensuring consistency and cohesiveness. Having these guidelines will save time as employees will no longer have to double check and backtrack to fix mistakes.

Simply put, trying to get more done is a matter of using your existing tools and resources to the best of their abilities. By freeing up as much time as possible for your team, they can focus their efforts on the critical jobs at hand, rather than the repetitive and mundane tasks.

Sometimes working with a small and efficient team is better than growing the team and spending more money.

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Written by Joshua Oates

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