By consulting in workplace productivity I get to see the full spectrum of how people work. While everyone’s situation is unique, the differences between those who are extremely productive through to people who aren’t all that effective are interesting.
The really productive people tend to find a way to continually make progress and impact, despite experiencing days where unexpected demands derail their plans (yep we all tend to have these types of days….). By being proactive they have clarity of what needs to be done to achieve the big ticket objectives and basically get on with doing the work to achieve it.
You might think people with this level of capability don’t need any productivity coaching but that’s often not the case because they’re always looking for the next extra edge to stay on the top of their game. Oh, and they’re often frustrated with the unproductive people they work with who slow them down.
Then there are individuals who actually work hard but don’t make as much progress as productive people. They somehow seem to get caught up either getting too distracted on unimportant tasks or not having a great rhythm to how they work. While they sort of know what needs to be done, they lack clarity in how to achieve it, resulting in not being all that effective. This sees them reactive to demands, too busy to do anything else and often quite stressed.
It’s understandable how a staff member or team can find themselves in a situation like this because they may have never been taught how to work effectively or even if they were, the discipline of good working techniques may have waned or how we work is constantly evolving due to advances in technology and concepts.
I often help people who are experiencing similar challenges, however it sometimes surprises me the number who don’t take action to improve their or their team’s productivity. Maybe it is due to how busy they are or even a fear of change. But I think this all leads to lacking clarity to being the biggest difference where the challenges of keeping up with day to day work doesn’t allow for space to think at a higher level.
The Deloitte 2014 Human Capital Trends study, which surveyed more than 2,500 companies in 90 countries around the world found 1 of the biggest challenges to be "the overwhelmed employee" ie. having to deal with the volume of information of emails, meetings, conference calls, urgent items etc
So when looking at your team, who’s either performing or floundering? And what could be done differently or even better to:
- Have an approach to being more proactive and less reactive
- Perform at a higher level (whether that be actioning key responsibilities, defining or implementing strategy or improvement)
- Consistently meet deadlines
- Build capability (where leaders are able to constantly mentor staff)
One way to achieve this is by maximising your productivity. Maybe it’s time to think about how a small focussed productivity initiative can unlock capacity to achieve better outcomes in less time.