A business leader can be anyone who owns resources and is able to expand the value and profit of that resource. However, a leader can also evolve from just managing people to achieve the goals of the organisation without owning any resource. Here, people management is paramount.

In TouchPoints, authors Dough Conant and Mette Norgaard shared that “getting to the touchpoints of employees will lead to higher productivity and greater growth as a leader will be ‘tough-minded and tender-hearted’”.

Building on touchpoints for productivity improvement requires hard work and dedication. A leader has to be clear that it is the problem to be solved and employees to be inspired.

Here are eight productivity improvement touchpoints that leaders can utilise to manage employees:

* Separate the employee  from the problem. People make mistakes in the workplace. As a leader, you should focus on the problem rather than on the employee — even though the problem was caused by the employee.

* Refrain from bias. A leader will need to be objective in his investigation of issues at hand. He has to move away from office politics or conflicts, and focus on problem-solving.

* Invent options to solve problems. A leader with a visionary mindset can develop multiple strategies to solve any problem. There is no such thing as there being just one solution. If you think hard enough, there is always a Plan A, B, C or D. It is all about creativity and inventing options.

* Base it on objective criteria. As a leader, look for best practices, precedence and established standards which will strengthen leadership positions. These can be uncovered from internal and external sources.

* Master your commitment to your organisation. A leader can create the energy and direction to improve the performance of employees by simply showing his commitment.

Often, leaders implement change and move on to other organisations. When employees see that you are indeed interested in the organisation’s development and direction, they will become your pillar. As you move up the ladder, this can become a challenge because each time you are promoted, you will need to engage a more experienced group of employees.

* Channel energy into fact-based process improvement. Avoid telling employees, “My way or the highway!” This leads nowhere and arouses resentment in your employees. Instead, develop a proven system of improving processes.

Every organisation has its own process-improvement programme.

A Japanese business leader could focus on the 5 Ss: seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu and shitsuke. They stand for sorting, straightening, systematic cleaning, standardising and sustaining. The American business leader could focus on six sigma. The strategy is to adapt a process improvement system to grow the company.

* Implement change management strategies without the pain. In Fred Harburg’s book, The Corporate Athlete Advantage, he said that effective growth and change programmes should embrace four characteristics — intensely personal, deeply meaningful, highly relevant to employees and strongly supported by organisational culture.

Hence, a leader should not import change programmes for the sake of change. These programmes should lead to goals without the need for painful restructuring initiatives.

* Look for a model that best fits your organisation. The market is flooded with business models that have served other organisations in an excellent manner. Ask which model best fits your organisation. In TouchPoints, the authors shared how the Campbell Leadership Model was crafted.

A visionary leader can draw best practices and create a company-specific value and business model. It will inspire employees to follow the model and create new values.

Employees are expected to adapt to changes year after year and these demands can affect performance. When managing multiple projects and diverse groups of employees, it is essential for any leader to win the hearts and minds of his employees.

Deploying these appropriate touchpoint strategies will help a leader to secure commitment, improve productivity and, at the same time, develop highly motivated teams.