The Keys To Improving Workforce Productivity
There comes that time in a company’s fiscal year when the executive team looks at the top line and the bottom line and then looks to the people around the room for answers and solutions.
If the results are better than expected, the excitement lends itself to a comfortable discussion about what more can be done to push great financial returns even higher. You have been here before. The confidence that comes with superior outcomes often lends itself to further investment, expressions of gratitude and also some laughs, too.
Flip the script, however, and consider for a moment how the dynamics change in light of disappointing sales results, and you can begin to understand what you as a global executive must be prepared to explore if things go off the tracks. After all, you’ve likely been here, too, so some forethought about the levers you can turn to improve such a situation can be helpful before any storm erupts in the executive conference room.
In good times and in bad, workforce productivity is one of the most effective levers you can pull. That is, in part, because your organisation’s culture may be stifling individual and team performance. And that is, in another part, because your visibility, authority and influence as an executive leader affords you a unique opportunity to do something about it. One of the clear symptoms that may be getting in the way of the results the Chief Executive Officer expects is the kind of “death by meeting” culture that requires too many of the best “doers” in your organisation to attend far too many meetings.
The simple message for leaders is this: You cannot have it both ways.
What this means is that when you’re pushing for better numbers, more customers and more market share, leaders need to unleash their best performers and most adept teams to apply their true potential to the biggest, most important corporate goals. If these individuals are hampered by too many wasteful, unproductive meetings they will have little time to truly assert themselves and little success meeting their leaders’ expectations for results.
Another symptom of an under performing company – and one that further inhibits its return on talent – is rampant misalignment of priorities between managers and supervisors and the employees who report directly to them. In far too many enterprises, there remains a significant communication gap. Leaders are scratching their heads wondering why they aren’t getting more from their teams, and individual team members are unclear about what it really expected of them and frustrated by a lack of clear, consistent direction from their superiors.
A third and equally consequential symptom of a workforce that isn’t optimised to meet your company’s goals is the presence of too many legacy employees whose work, attitude and output might have fit somewhere earlier in the company’s history, but who are truly now holding the organisation back. It is true that not every employee must be a top-flight performer or high-potential leader. But what is true is that your organisation will pay a price – in productivity terms – if too many workers are holding on to the past and allow their sense of “how we do things around here” to inhibit the creativity and stretch-goal setting that may be critical to achieving better sales and profit numbers.
At the end of the day, global leaders need to regularly ask themselves these questions to make the most of their return on talent and their workforce investment:
1 – Are we giving employees the time and flexibility to prioritise their work in alignment with top corporate goals or are they simply stuck in too many meetings?
2 – Do the employees on the factory floor, in the field sales force and/or answering customer calls really understand what is expected of them and how their performance impacts team performance?
3 – Is everyone working toward the same goals and contributing to team effectiveness or are there some bad apples souring the bunch?
If the pressure is really on to deliver, it is up to you as a global executive to be the catalyst of something new and powerful for your organisation. Driving for better workplace productivity – one team at a time – is something you can do to bolster your case and set your people up for success.
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