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Peak Performance

Achieving Peak Performance in a World of Rapid Information

The most important part of working is, well, working. Salaries, hours, benefits and meetings are all secondary to the actual need to conduct some real business. It’s called productivity, and it’s one of the most important quantifiable measurements for both employers and employees. Employers want more revenue via more productivity, and employees want more recognition due to their productivity.

So how can businesses and their talent work together to increase something they both want? Ron Friedman of the Harvard Business Review asked some of the best minds in the HR business what they thought, and discovered there are some consistent overarching themes.

First, employees produce more quality work when their time is their own, so to speak. That isn’t to say that employees should be jamming on their guitars or updating their Facebook pages, but that proactive accomplishment of a project is better than reactionary putting-out of other people’s fires. Put differently: employees work harder and do better work when they are accomplishing their own job description, rather than responding to e-mails and requests from other offices or coworkers. It’s for this reason that Friedman suggests not even checking e-mails until at least one personal task has been accomplished. For employers, this means allowing your employees some time to get some momentum going in the morning before making new requests.

Secondly, despite the feeling that they are siphoning your precious time away, assisting those who ask for help tends to lead to greater productivity for the helper. But there’s a catch: you can not, and should not, help everyone who asks. Indeed, Friedman reports that those who offer assistance not in a catch-all manner, but in one or two select fields where they both feel they have expertise, and genuinely enjoy the task, can instill the helper with feelings of efficacy, competency, and confidence. From the employer’s perspective, this means giving your employees a bit of slack on the leash. Let them figure things out for themselves where allowable, and empower them with your help when you think it will truly benefit them.

Finally, if you want your productivity to measure up…well, measure it! You make a workout plan when you want to get in shape. You keep a food journal when you want to eat healthy. You want to be more productive? Keep track of your work! Whether your important metrics are calls made, reports submitted, deals closed, or words written, recording your progress increases your productivity by providing an actual road map of how far you’ve come, and incentivises further progress. Additionally, it allows you to concretely demonstrate your value to your employer.

To the same point on the employer side, Brad Zomick of HRO Today encourages HR managers to leverage an ever-growing industry of performance-tracking software technology to make sure this productivity benefit is baked into every business process from the start. Not only does it lead to greater accountability and in turn greater productivity, but it helps create a culture of fairness, openness, and understanding. It eliminates the he-said-she-said, employee-said-employer-said distrust that can poison otherwise-successful offices.

Remembering that productivity is a process that can be optimized just like anything else is the first step towards maximizing it, for both employers and employees!

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