Just recently, Forbes published an article reporting that only 7% of workers feel productive during the workday.
Just think about that for a minute... 93 out of 100 employees don't feel like they can get their work done.
And if they don’t feel like they’re getting their work done… Guess what? Let’s just say they could be doing a lot more.
What do they blame?
- "interruptions from colleagues,"
- "stress from commuting," and
- "office politics."
All typical office crap—the stuff you see on shows like The Office.
These things kill productivity. More than that though, they suck the life out of work, killing job satisfaction, making it difficult to be creative, and all but snuffing out otherwise proactive employees.
Forbes is right about one thing:
"If only a small percentage of your people feel like they're getting their best work done during their allotted working hours - something is clearly broken in the traditional workplace model."
So what do they recommend? Allowing employees to work from home.
And that's where I call bull$#%&.
Now, I'm not one to talk. I've worked from home 100% of the time for the past 10 years. But working from home is not the solution to feeling more productive.
After all, some days I'm productive, and some days I watch cat videos on Youtube until my coffee thermos gets cold :-|.
But here’s the million dollar question: What is it that makes for a productive day? How can we create an environment where employees leave work not only feeling like they got $#!% done, they actually did?
Reducing Interruptions, Commuting Stress, and Office Politics
First, if your team is getting interrupted by their colleagues, your team may not have a believable schedule to meet. It’s also possible they don’t have the communication structure to talk/vent at appropriate times.
Second, if your team is stressed out about commuting, then they may not have, know, or believe in their mission. They may not have the drive and direction that makes things like commuting a necessary evil instead of a stressor.
Finally, if your team is bothered by office politics, they may not be clear on their goals, aren't unified, or don't understand their role in the team. They may not know what they have to do, by when, and who’s counting on them to get the job done.
In other words, while Forbes may have correctly identified employee problems leading to a lack of productivity, their solution (working from home) isn’t the answer.
What Forbes failed to notice is that interruptions, commuting stress, and office politics can all be drastically reduced with good leadership.
Good is Good Enough
Notice I didn’t say great leadership. Good is good enough.
Leadership is a topic that’s been studied, written about, and practiced for centuries. There are no tricks. No special "secret techniques." Just fundamentals.
Good leadership fundamentals provide a framework for getting you AND your team productive. Period.
But you didn’t read all this way just to hear “good leadership” is the answer. So what exactly, precisely am I talking about?
Let’s start here:
By being clear, consistent and authentic about your company's purpose, you can foster engagement, loyalty, productivity, collaboration and innovation among your team. I suggest the following actions:
1. Unify Your Leadership Team
The most important action a leader can take to create clarity of purpose and foster high productivity is to make sure that his/her leadership team is in true agreement and commitment to the same vision for the organization.
You simply cannot be productive if you don’t understand where your company is heading and why.
If the leadership team has even subtle, unresolved disagreements regarding priorities, it will trickle down in the organization in the form of dissension and in turn will damage productivity. Therefore the leader has the responsibility to bring his/her team together regularly and have a candid dialogue on purpose and priorities, to work through disagreements, and to develop the messaging that articles the purpose to staff and stakeholders.
2. Constantly (and Consistently) Communicate
There is no such thing as too much communication when it comes to reinforcing and clarifying purpose. It should be featured in all leadership communications, consistently and enthusiastically.
However, it is important to make sure these messages are communicated in ways that are relatable and practical.
For example, what does it look like to express purpose and values as we work every day? Tell stories about examples of where purpose and values have been genuinely expressed. Conversely, if purpose and values are communicated as generic "corporate-speak," they can become meaningless and hurt employee engagement.
If all levels of leadership are sharing and promoting the same messaging around purpose, it will translate to productive planning and decision making reflected in corporate policies, procedures, and standards.
At this level of alignment, employees can directly understand how their day-to-day work influences and advances the purpose of the organization.
3. Connect Your Team to the “Big Picture”
Whether it’s your purpose statement, a larger project goal, or a combination of both, the big picture is the reason your employees head into work every morning.
Not pay raises. Not bonuses. The “big picture.”
Once you meet their basic salary and benefit needs, they stay on board because they know who they are working for. They believe what you believe. And instead of being a number in a thousand-person company, they are a name and a face and a difference-maker.
Their contributions matter and they can feel it. This is a tremendous advantage for a business that will inspire loyalty, productivity, and pride in every one of your employees. By being clear, consistent, and authentic about your company's purpose, you can foster engagement, loyalty, productivity, collaboration, and innovation among your team.
4. Employ a “Coaching” Leadership Style
Coaching is one of the quickest and more effective ways to develop confident and self-reliant leaders. it is a significant source of opportunity and motivation for employees who are eager to learn and take on more responsibility. It encourages creativity and responsible risk taking.
A coaching style is rooted in having a genuine interest and belief in your employees. It emphasizes feedback and problem-solving. It means trusting employees with big tasks and new challenges (without being afraid of hitting bumps in the road along the way).
To be successful with a coaching leadership style, you’ll need four essential skills which are outlined in detail in our post: Use Coaching Skills to Enhance Your Leadership (Click to Read >>)
5. Implement Good Project Management Processes
Many of business owners describe their projects as:
What a terrible way to work. It’s no wonder only 7% of employees feel productive.
Once you have aligned your leadership staff and communicated the “big picture” to your employees, it’s time to implement some (basic, at the very least) project management processes in your organization.
Not a running to-do list.
Not even something fancy or cumbersome.
Just a basic process that follows the fundamentals of standard project management techniques.
How to Help 93% of Your Employees Feel More Productive
None of this is rocket science, but this all requires discipline. Which is where you come in…
If you were stunned by the statistic that only 7% of employees feel productive during the workday, it’s time to take action. We’ve given you a few tips and techniques here:
- Unify your leadership team.
- Constantly and consistently communicate.
- Connect your team to the “big picture.”
- Employ a “coaching” leadership style.
- Implement good project management processes.
Read these articles, use these tips, and watch your employee productivity soar.
Hell, even if you only achieve a 14% feeling of productivity, you’ll have doubled your employee satisfaction, output, and results.
That in and of itself would be incredible.
Before I go, do us all a favor and write in the comments below… What have you done with your employees to make them feel (and actually be) more productive?
We’ll look over all the comments between now and September 30th, 2017. The best idea will be featured in a future article (with full links to your business website), AND we’ll give you a free pass to our Project Management Fundamentals Course (a $197 value)!
About the Author
CO-FOUNDER | TECHNOLOGY, PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT, MARKETING, AND SALES
Michael Mehlberg helps small businesses owners achieve their goals and live their passion. His approach to technology, corporate strategy, product development, marketing, and sales is both practical and highly effective, and has helped multiple small businesses grow into the company their owners envisioned. Reach out by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org or learn more on our About page.