Productivity can be a polarizing term. For some it is energizing to think about how much can be accomplished in a set period of time. For others, the pressure of producing can become debilitating. The reality, however, is that no business is successful without some measure of productivity. The reason for this is all in the meaning of productivity. At ALL Strategy, we simply define productivity as “doing something that generates an intended end result”. Simple.
As a leader in a successful business, I suspect that multiple times a day, you do something that generates an intended end result. If not, the business won’t be successful for too much longer.
Now that we have alleviated the pressure of productivity by simplifying the truth about it, let’s remove the pressure of time as well. Of course deadlines are important, and efficiency is a personal passion point for me. That being said however, if watching the clock reduces your ability to do something, then stop watching the clock. How do we do this? Here are a few suggestions on how to optimize productivity while ignoring the clock:
1. Create measurable outcome objectives instead of deadlines.
To know the sales targets for the month and understand conversion rates for the team, allows a sales team to work backwards from measurable outcome to required activity and feel empowered to achieve their outcome objectives versus working the clock.
Here is an example:
Productivity by time: “Susan, I expect that you make 20 prospect calls every day and I want a report on my desk showing that is done by 2pm each day, outlining the opportunities you generated for the day.”
Productivity by outcome: “Susan, our target monthly sales are X, and our pipeline time is Y weeks. I have monitored your conversion rate from prospect call to sales, and you are at a Z% conversion rate. Please take a look at these numbers and manage your sales calls appropriately to reach those monthly targets. Let’s review how you are doing every week to see if there are ways I can better support you achieve our company objective.”
2. Work by list instead of by time.
Lists are a great way to avoid time pressure but still encourage productivity. Create a culture where each team member develops a 3 column task-list approach: Priority, Necessary, and As Time Allows. If each team member automatically puts every task that comes across their desk into one of these 3 categories, it starts to help them narrow down to what needs to happen immediately versus what can wait or be delegated.
Our ALL Strategy RESULTS Program clients are all trained to work by list and build out even more complex productivity lists, including delegation, quick wins and longer term commitments. It makes time management much easier and increases their ability to generate their intended result.
3. Set up accountability opportunities through meetings and collaborations.
Instead of giving hard deadlines, agree to check in on status of certain projects or objectives at team meetings. Usually the desire to provide new updates to one’s peers is far more motivating than a hard deadline. In addition, by creating a team culture and having various team members collaborate on projects, productivity has the potential of increasing if each person’s role is clearly defined along with the measurable outcome objective. This approach allows each team member to invest as much or as little ‘time’ as they choose, based on their commitment to work they are trying to achieve. The empowerment principle here is strong, but the key to it’s success is having clarity about roles, outcomes and the tools and skills of the team members involved.