One productivity drainer occurs when employees say yes too often because they want to be seen as nice people, they want to please the boss, or they think that saying yes will make them look good. As a result, they have so much to do that they don’t get anything done well. Managers need to work with individual staff members to ensure that their workload is challenging but not overwhelming.
Employees need goals that are achievable and realistic or they may spend even more of their needed time making excuses and rehearsing failure scenarios.
A second productivity drainer is not having a system for accomplishing the necessary daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. Just remembering to do the tasks or keeping to-do lists is not a system. When no system exists, no guidance is provided if another employee has to step in for the person when illness or other situations occur.
Plus, if employees are spending all of their time trying to remember to do things, they are not actively seeking to improve, creating new ideas, developing new ways of doing things, viewing the work with fresh eyes, and so forth.
A third productivity drainer is never stopping to examine your productivity. What are the things that you are doing well and what can use improvement? Stop periodically to assess all of the tasks you’re doing and determine whether they need to be done or whether you’re missing opportunities.
I am a big fan of planning and developing systems so that, you can do, especially the routine tasks, without thinking.
What Can a Company Do if Productivity Is Suffering?
If the productivity of your employees is below expectations, sit down with all of the employees and ask W. Edwards Deming’s often asked question, what about the work systems is causing you to fail?
Ask them to identify what they need to do more of, less of, stop, start, or continue. The employees generally have the answers if you listen to them. Pick the best solutions, make a plan, and set your goals and measurements.
You need to answer the question, how will you know what success looks like? You also need to set periodic assessment dates and know what your measurements are at the start of the improvement efforts.
Do not let any of this assessment and discussion turn into employees blaming each other or making excuses. A genuine review produces learning for the next challenge.
Can Organizations Prevent Low or Decreasing Productivity?
You can prevent low or decreasing productivity and performance by how you approach and involve your employees. Involve employees early and frequently in planning their work and making decisions about how to solve customer problems, meet customer needs, and accomplish what needs to happen to create delighted customers.
Communicate the goals and the context of decisions and strategic plans to your employees. The more information they have about why particular decisions were made and the goals of the decisions, the better decisions they are able to make.
Your success depends on their success. The better able they are to align their jobs with the goals of the organization, the better they can contribute.
Make employees feel as if they are part of the team, that they are important, and that their contributions are recognized and appreciated. This goes a long way in preventing decreasing or low productivity.
Valued contributors who feel as if they are trusted, respected, and part of the team will hold a completely different conversation with their bosses. Raising their productivity will not be a central part of the conversation.