How to Use a Prioritization Matrix to Boost Employee Productivity

Discover what a prioritization matrix is and how to use one to boost employee productivity in your organization.

November 28, 2023
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Using a simple time management technique like a prioritization matrix can be a game changer if you are trying to boost employee productivity. Organizing and ranking tasks and activities according to criteria such as urgency and importance helps employees to clearly recognize their priorities. It also encourages them to complete each task within an appropriate time frame. 

In turn, your team can become more focused, achieve more with their time and ultimately improve business outcomes overall. 

In this article, we will discover what exactly a prioritization matrix is and how to use one to boost employee productivity.

Why Is Prioritization Important? 

Prioritization is a valuable skill used to juggle tasks, deadlines, and other activities for maximum productivity. The act of prioritizing can be challenging for employees, particularly when they are faced with a long list of tasks they need to complete to do their job effectively. 

In this digital age, there are many tools and technologies available to help employees do their job effectively. Just think about how employees working remotely can use remote access Mac from pc technology to work from home, or how AI can be utilized for automating tedious tasks in the workplace. 

Being able to prioritize tasks effectively is necessary for employees to complete their daily tasks as well as achieve long-term goals and objectives. Without prioritization skills, employees will find themselves struggling to meet deadlines and the whole organization will suffer as a result. 

What Is a Prioritization Matrix?

A prioritization matrix, sometimes referred to as a priority matrix, is a tool that can help users prioritize a list of tasks, activities, or even goals. Tasks are ranked based on criteria such as urgency and importance, and it therefore becomes clear which tasks should be tackled first. 

In a business setting, a prioritization matrix can be particularly helpful as employees can use it to compare different tasks or ongoing projects in terms of their importance and impact on the business. This ensures employees direct their focus to the tasks that will have the most impact, as well as boosting their productivity. 

If your organization is expanding, for example, you may use a prioritization matrix to determine whether your next step is to research better payroll services for small businesses, outsource a hiring team, or build a new website.   

What Does a Prioritization Matrix Look Like?

Prioritization matrices are typically presented as a 2x2 matrix. In other words, a grid with four quadrants. The axes can represent different criteria such as urgency, importance, or the potential impact of completing the task in question. Each task is plotted on the matrix accordingly, and the result is a visual representation of your priorities. 

By using a prioritization matrix in this way, employees can quickly turn their unorganized list of tasks into a targeted list of priorities. This will boost their productivity and benefit your business enormously. 

When to Use a Prioritization Matrix

Prioritization matrices are useful when you need to work out which tasks or projects to complete first (or which to remove from your to-do list completely). They can help you quickly prioritize a list of tasks, and are particularly useful when you feel overwhelmed. 

If you run a business, your employees can benefit from it, too. They can use a prioritization matrix when they need to: 

  • Gain clarity on where to start 
  • Work out a schedule for completing particular tasks and projects
  • Develop time management skills in their team
  • Get the whole team on the same page about their priorities. 

Ultimately, the effective use of a prioritization matrix will boost employee productivity and help you meet your team or business objectives. 

How to Use a Prioritization Matrix to Boost Employee Productivity 

You now understand the basics of a prioritization matrix. Let’s delve a little deeper into how they work. You can share the following steps with employees across your organization to help them prioritize properly and boost their productivity. 

  1. Establish your goals and objectives 

When deciding to use a prioritization matrix in your organization, you should first determine what you are trying to achieve in doing so. Are you asking employees to work collaboratively and use a prioritization matrix to organize an entire project? Or is the intended use to help employees prioritize their day-to-day tasks?

Without clear goals and objectives, the prioritization matrix may not have the positive effect you are hoping for. However, if you clearly establish why you are using the matrix and what you hope to achieve, you are more likely to find success. 

For example, an organization hoping to introduce a new cloud phone system for business might ask the project management team to use a prioritization matrix to determine how exactly the system will be rolled out across the organization. In doing so, they will boost the productivity of the team by ensuring the most important tasks are prioritized. 

  1. Determine your criteria 

As we alluded to earlier, prioritization matrices can be created using various criteria. Some examples of possible criteria are: 

  • Importance 
  • Urgency 
  • Cost 
  • Effort 
  • Impact 
  • Time required 
  • Resources needed.

Let’s consider a business offering call center service solutions, hoping to boost employee productivity. Managers may ask their call center sales team to use a prioritization matrix to reevaluate their day-to-day tasks and ensure that they maximize their sales. 

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In this example, the criteria might be effort and impact. How much effort does each task take and what impact will it have on the overall objectives? Daily tasks that are identified as being minimal effort but maximum impact should be prioritized. 

  1. List your tasks 

Whether you are using a prioritization matrix for a specific project or for general daily business tasks, your next step is to list all of the tasks that need to be done. At this stage, you don’t need to put them in any kind of order (that step comes next). 

Be thorough and include everything on this list to make sure that no key priorities are left off the matrix. 

Let’s take our example of a business selling inbound call center software solutions. At this stage, sales employees may list tasks such as: 

  • Read and reply to email inquiries 
  • Follow-up calls with existing customers due to renew contracts 
  • Calls to potential leads 
  • Sending out contracts to new clients 
  • Analyzing data to establish customer needs 
  • Preparing to present to potential clients. 

When presented with this list of tasks, it may be unclear to your team what to focus on first, and this uncertainty leads to them being unproductive. That’s where the prioritization matrix can help.

  1. Plot your tasks on the prioritization matrix 

Having created a list of necessary tasks or actions, it is now time to plot them on your prioritization matrix according to the criteria you determined in step 2. 

Below is an illustration of a prioritization matrix using importance and urgency as the criteria for prioritization:  

Once you have plotted your tasks on the matrix, you can begin to make decisions on which tasks to prioritize. This will not only increase workplace motivation but will also boost employee productivity. 

  1. Analyze your results 

In the above example, any tasks plotted in the red quadrant (important and urgent) should be a top priority. The green quadrant, on the other hand, (not important and not urgent) features tasks that do not need immediate attention and should be put on the back burner for now. 

Take the time to review your results and determine which tasks should become your priority. Depending on how you decide to use the matrix in your organization, this could be done daily, weekly, monthly, or per project. You could even consider sharing priority matrices on your mobile-friendly intranet for easy access and maximum engagement. 

However you decide to use it, introducing a prioritization matrix to your employees can certainly improve efficiency and boost their productivity.

Key takeaways 

The art of prioritization is valuable to businesses in every industry. Without prioritization skills, employees cannot effectively meet short- or long-term goals and objectives. This, therefore, negatively affects employee productivity and overall business success. 

Using a prioritization matrix is a fairly straightforward method of prioritizing tasks. Taking the time to share this process with employees and embedding it into your company culture could be a game changer. If you are looking to boost employee productivity in your organization, a prioritization matrix may just be the perfect tool. 

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