What is productivity?
By default reply: A twelve letter word most commonly used in HR presentations, manager meetings and self-help articles.
Reality: The state or quality of being productive.
To shed light on this straightforward yet mildly abstract concept, we decided to try an experiment at work. We went around the office and asked our colleagues, “What did you do today?” A majority of them replied, “ We were drowned in work and had a lot on our plate; back-to-back meetings, con-calls, presentations, the usual.”
You might relate to this or brush it off as a standard answer. In reality, such phrases tell us nothing about what was actually accomplished. If anything, it proves the point that being busy is often such a distraction that it obscures what we may have achieved. Here the curious case of ‘productivity’ unfurls.
Recent research by the leadership consulting firm Bain & Company concluded that biggies like Google, Apple, Netflix et al. are 40% more productive than the average company. The data gathered from these large firms point to three components of human capital that impact productivity: energy, talent and time.
That said, the prime organisations are not only winning at productivity; instead, they organise their business processes and employees in such a way that their profit margins are 30%-50% higher than industry averages. So, what makes productivity different in such firms?
First, how they function and second, who makes them functional. In other words, the business processes and employees are an integral part of productivity. A harmonious and symbiotic relationship between the two can guarantee productivity.
When it comes to individual talent, focusing solely on emulating the habits of successful individuals will not assure productivity if it runs counter to how an organisation gets work done. The goal is to focus on collective instead of an individual.
Even Steve Jobs, most revered Player-Coach, believed that ‘focus’ preceded everything. Jobs elaborated on his belief at an off-site meeting with about 200 Yahoo executives. In the presentation, he explained how most companies make a list of 10 things they want to achieve in a year, but the smart ones reduce it to three or four items. Jobs, on the other hand, only focused on one thing his company could achieve in that year and allocate all resources to accomplishing that.
Productivity in its broadest sense will have different applications, yet its product will always remain the same; providing success to a company and its employees.
Lastly, inspiration is another critical aspect of productivity. The Bain & Company research even said that an ‘engaged’ employee is 44% more productive than a satisfied worker, but an employee who feels ‘inspired’ at work is nearly 125% more productive than a satisfied one.
To make this concept of productivity crystal clear, we’ll be coming up with a series of blogs, which will become a guide to increase productivity for your business and employees. Stay tuned.
Quick tip :
To maximise efficiency and productivity, start your day by asking yourself “What is the one thing that I can accomplish today which would give me immense satisfaction”.
Once you’ve figured that out, ensure you complete that task no matter what. This remarkably simple strategy will allow you to understand the concept of focus and convert it into a practical application.