We’re all in a race against time — one we’re inevitably going to lose. Perhaps it’s because we know that life is finite that we tend to feel rushed.
In business, that feeling is exacerbated by the pressure to achieve and surpass your competition. But throttling through work at breakneck speeds is not the way to win. Corners get cut, details blur and the nuances that make your unique team of service providers stand out and gain more clients get lost.
That doesn’t mean you have to creep along, though. Use the following strategies to stay in the fast lane while maintaining control.
Standardizing is like fine-tuning your engine. Checklists, templates, manuals and workflows may not sound exciting, but they’re guaranteed to cut down on time and make your team more efficient.
It’s not smart or necessary to reinvent the wheel every time you onboard a client, respond to an ad-hoc request or generate an invoice. Instead, eliminate the mental burden and the pause that happens when an employee isn’t sure of their next steps — at as many places in the client journey as possible.
Rev up and plan for the long term with thoughtful processes that set your business free.
Your clients expect you to do more than just keep in touch. They need project updates, responses to requests and instructions to be clear and purposeful. And you need them to be fast.
Communication tools that integrate task tracking, real-time messaging and collaborative functions can transform how your team interacts with each other. Platforms that enhance communication visibility and allow people to work together on tickets and tasks can compress the back-and-forth that you may have slipped into in the past. But you also need an easy-to-use client portal to more quickly send and receive approval for quotes, share documents with clients and reduce payment time.
Consolidate your client work tools to make communication as simple as possible.
With their roots deeply embedded in the tech world, agile and adaptive project management methodologies offer a less restrictive, and therefore faster, way to approach projects.
If you have enough information to deconstruct your project into manageable units — “sprints,” you’ll benefit from the quick feedback built into the agile methodology. Because each sprint builds on the prior one’s performance, your team can avoid extensive and time-consuming revisions while maintaining progress.
Adaptive project management is similarly flexible. It prepares your team to expect and incorporate change throughout a project lifecycle. Without adaptive methods, your team might have to rework or backtrack due to surprises.
Explore small but impactful ways to boost your project profitability.
They say the only constant is change, and you may know that’s particularly true when you’re serving clients who expect you to keep up with their needs. A willingness to learn is one of the most valuable assets an employee can have.
Even though it may feel like slowing down, taking the time to offer professional development opportunities and training will ultimately increase the value of your human capital. Offer both technical, role-based learning and all-company deep dives into soft skills to support a higher average speed. The lower the risk of internal miscommunication, the greater the chance of completing client work on time or ahead of schedule.
Start with these four tips for training your client-facing team.
Beyond strategies and protocols, a workspace can significantly impact service speed and quality. Cluttered, disorganized spaces — physical or digital — lead to wasted time and frequent errors. When every piece of information is logically organized and immediately accessible, you’ll reduce the hours your team spends searching for data, correcting mistakes and duplicating efforts.
Yes, it’s possible to transform the work environment with a remote team, too. Aside from the physical impact of providing your employees with the supplies they need to set up a comfortable desk and/or office, you can encourage structured daily routines with things like virtual co-working sessions or focused sprints. Some businesses are finding success with reducing the frequency of messaging or email and giving employees added wellness benefits so they can stay motivated and energetic.
Insulate your team from the common causes of low productivity.
The worst thing you can do is barrel toward the wrong target. If you aren’t listening for what your clients need and aligning your service offerings with that, speed won’t matter at all.
Understanding your clients’ perspectives, expectations and ultimate goals is not just about forming solid relationships with them, but it can help you avoid costly detours caused by misinterpretation or assumption. When you know your clients well, you can make decisions quickly and execute with confidence.
Make sure you differentiate between clients’ wants and needs.
The above tips are not intended to make you feel even more pressure to keep up with the productivity growth of the professional services sector. On the contrary, they’re a call to stay grounded and thoughtful about your business pace.
While you take off in the direction of an invisible finish line, remember: A win isn’t a win if you don’t keep your integrity intact. Your business reputation and your clients’ outcomes are on the line. And while they want quick service, they also need the full benefits of the unique mix of skills and experience your team brings to the table.
➡️ Before stepping on the gas, think about how to inspire your team so they stay productive and focused.