How To Create A Culture Of Productivity


Jenna Fernandes

October 31, 2014

As the CEO of a startup, I’ve realized how important it is to increase productivity while at the same time limiting expenses as much as possible. But this can be difficult to do and at times seems impossible.

While waving a magic productivity wand would be much easier and ideal, the magic is not really possible if the right culture or productive work habits are not in place. That’s why it’s important to create a culture where productivity is celebrated starting with the first hire.

The tempo a business owner/entrepreneur sets for their company’s culture will be hard to maneuver onto a different path once established, so here are five ways I have been able to create a culture of productivity:

1. Hire For Attitude

Who you hire makes all the difference, but it’s not all about what’s on their resume, especially not at a startup. Once you have a group of candidates who are technically qualified for the position, then you need to make sure you hire people who are excited about the position and even more importantly about the company.

Once you have narrowed the list down even further to people who are truly excited, then you will want to select someone you would not only like to be around every day, but also someone you believe will learn from failure, rally quickly under pressure, and never whine or try to pass off blame.

All of these desired characteristics add up to someone who will want to work hard every day and takes pride in getting things done!

2. Choose Actions Over Words

Meetings are beneficial, but oftentimes meetings involving large corporations turn into time-sucks where nothing really gets decided.

To stay on course, meetings should start with a clear, concise agenda that include the goals for decisions to be made. This agenda should be e-mailed before the meeting so all the stakeholders can come prepared with one clear “owner” for each item. It’s best to assign these during the meeting and then follow-up via e-mail with a review of all the important decisions and to-dos with realistic deadlines clearly displayed so everyone is on the same page moving forward.

3. Set Goals With Realistic Deadlines

Unfortunately, goals can get derailed when assigning them with unrealistic deadlines. Deadlines are imperative to productivity, but they can be quite the opposite when they are seen as un-doable or even threatening.

Instead of blindly assigning goals and deadlines, sit down with your team on Monday mornings to discuss goals for the week and have a checkpoint with them at the end of each day to discuss the items that were completed and items left to be done, as well as giving people a chance to ask questions. During reviews with your team, it’s important to review priorities so you can be sure that your entire team is on the same page and make sure that everything is not the highest priority.

Too often, “urgent” is the delineation of choice for all priorities, but not every priority can take top billing every day. That is a sure way to confuse your team with the compulsion to over express urgent-ness on everything, or what I call “urgent-itis.” It will be much more difficult for your team to concentrate on the truly urgent items instead of getting lost in a sea of urgency.

4. Be Approachable

A boss needs to be available and approachable more often than not. Many times items are not correctly completed because employees were unable or afraid to ask questions. If you give your employees time to speak with you and really listen to what they have to say, not only will projects get done faster, but you might even learn some interesting new things that can improve the project, product, or processes at the company. Openness to ideas and discussions make bosses and employees both feel more connected to their jobs and excited about what they are doing, which fuels productivity.

5. Show Them How It’s Done

It is always better to show not tell. This includes showing your staff that you are productive too and how you are not afraid to roll-up your sleeves and work on projects. Show that you are a thought leader leading the way toward a big future for the company. Be transparent about what you’re working on and hold yourself accountable to what your goals are for the week as well. This will help your employees feel like you’re not just delegating but instead contributing to the overall productivity and true success of the company.

Jenna Fernandes is the CEO of, the “OpenTable” for booking in-home family care services such as babysitting, pet care, tutoring and more.

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