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Employee productivity | WorkMeter Blog: July 2011

July 6, 2011

Productivity is More Than Just a Mathematical Formula

Wikipedia defines “productivity” as a measure of output from a production process, per unit of input, and this is where the fundamental problem of the modern day business begins.

Without real & measurable business benefit as a subsequent output of labor input, then what you are measuring is simple activity & NOT "productivity".

True productivity starts at "why", gains momentum at "what" and accelerates on continuos & measured improvements.

The Power of "Why"

People don't do what they're told, people do as they believe! The way we exercise our thoughts are through actions, likewise we exercise our beliefs through engrained habits or behavioral patterns. Ever go on a road trip that you weren't convinced was right for you? How did that workout for you? Were you enthusiastic about overcoming the challenges that appeared along the way? Did you look on the bright side of ever set-back?

“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” - John Fitzgerald Kennedy; A strong sense of purpose, something you can identify with, believe in.. is always a sure bet to get you enthusiastic about the journey your company is about to take you on. It's purpose that gives you faith & courage to seek alternative paths and make proactive efforts to achieve your milestones faster. Purpose is the first key to engagement & commitment to excellence.. it's the self imposed response to an employee who briefly asks themselves "why bother".

What's your company's "why"and how do remind everyone every day of it? And this is just the 1st step..

The Direction of "What"

"If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don't have to be pushed. The vision pulls you." - Steve Jobs; Follow-up strong purpose with a clearly articulated & understood vision, and your powerful formula is more than half-way there.

People more quickly propel themselves toward something they can visualize.. almost touch & feel.. than into a dark tunnel or foggy cloud. How quantifiable is your company's vision? How absolutely clear is the short, medium & long terms goals / objectives of your organization.

What mechanisms are you using on a regular basis to remind people of what your vision is.. the end point of your journey'.. and most important, what are the regular (rhythmic) interval checks or pulse-checks that measure your progress and as well what's left to achieve? Yet this is merely your 2nd step..

The power of metrics.. measurements & continuous improvements

What doesn't get measured doesn't get done, because people don't do what you EXPECT.. they do what you INSPECT!

That's the reality of human nature, and to assume anything else is a guaranteed formula for disaster. If purpose (Mission) & vision need to be quantifiable, then even more so does execution. As Thomas Edison once said, "Vision without execution is hallucination." But how do you know that you're executing? After-all, how do you know whether your teams are being "productive" or simply busy (activity)?

If you've got your act together in what regards setting & measuring against performance, how are you ensuring your team is continuously measuring progress and growing through key learning?

“Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with Vision is making a positive difference.” - Joel Barker.. Action with vision is measurable! It's when you can identify whether employee's behavioral patterns at work are producing business results. For this, you need to be able to measure activity that drives results and not just activity working on the applications or environments you've deemed productive. I can spend an entire day in a word processing application, just like I can in a spreadsheet, but unless I'm producing business results, it's all just a hallucination.

On the contrary, in parallel to measuring where I'm investing my time, how many uninterrupted & focused work sprints I'm able to generate in a day, if i can associate my activity to quantifiable increases in business results.. then I can confidently state that I'm productive.

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