Productivity improvement in your team and company… it’s not as clear-cut as you think
If you’re like me you also think that “productivity” is doing the ‘right thing’, the ‘right way’, at ‘all times’. In this way you achieve quality for free. But how do you convince the rest of your team or company to be in that frame of mind at all times?
There are different kinds of people searching for ways to improve their productivity. First, there are the people fascinated with making every aspect of their lives more productive, from reusing toilet paper rolls to planning the grocery route down to a T.
Then there are the people in high-pressure jobs with a million-and-one things to do in a day who avidly search for the golden nugget of productivity wisdom to make all their team efforts fall into place.
Next, you have the middle managers sweating under their collars – how are they going to show the next set of pretty upwardly-trending graphs at the monthly round-up?
Then there’s everyone else, who just want to do their job, be happy and have time for their family and friends.
So what IS the secret sauce to productivity improvement?
wait for it…
you’re gonna find this cliché but you should take it very seriously…
this extensive study posted in the New York Times even though it revealed some saddening facts:
“people are more frustrated and exasperated with their jobs than ever before.”
These negative feelings impact hugely on an economy as big as the United States, with billions of potential being lost due to a lack of productivity.
Companies traditionally incentivize “happiness” by handing out titles (“manager”), more money (the “raise”) and perks (gym membership, anyone?). But pick up any book on psychology and wellbeing, and you’ll find that money is rarely what makes people truly happy.
Apart from the power-hungry megalomaniacs in our society. Yes, we all need a basic income to survive, but the rest is quite simple. You can’t buy self-esteem, true loyalty, pride in your work – these are the golden nuggets for productivity improvement.
People need to get deep, personal value out of the job – whether it be great workplace friendships or becoming top of their class in their niche.
Working “smarter, not harder” is one of those easy-to-hate phrases that get used a lot in meetings and at conferences. The principle behind it is that “working smarter” means you have figured out an economical way to complete a time-consuming part of your job (with equal or more effectiveness). The thing is, you have to “work hard” to become like this (unless you are a natural genius). You need to learn many things in order to merge them into creative solutions to apply to your situation. And guess what? Creativity is much more likely to occur when a person is happy in their role than unhappy.
Improving productivity should be the reward for good management, not the goal
Some people are motivated by targets and competing with their colleagues. Some are motivated by being a helper to the team. Some get their satisfaction from taking on the responsibilities of leadership. A great manager will be able to recognize the particular motivation for an employee. Happiness at work is also brought about by the following factors:
getting positive feedback
being challenged enough
be part of a project from start to finish, not just contribute a section
having friends at work
having a workplace where you are not distracted
short commute/no commute
autonomy over tasks
Overall, what people are looking for in life are autonomy, mastery and purpose. Autonomy in that you have control over life; mastery in that you become better and better at something meaningful; purpose in that your everyday life is part of something greater than you. When people are asked “what do you do?” it is referring to their job. The job is the main vehicle for most people to achieve happiness (or not) in life.
Managers can make sure these needs are provided for. Here are a few steps that can be taken to win the hearts and minds of your employees and experience productivity improvement as your reward:
1) let your team members make decisions
2) encourage and let them be part of as much of the project as possible from end to end
3) offer training courses or allow time to attend seminars
4) have regular informal individual meetings to check in on how they are doing
5) make sure the company communicates a strong, clear purpose and an ambitious vision
6) keep barriers low between departments
I can promise you that with these tips, the graphs will trend upwards and your colleagues will have a spring in their step…