Often when we talk about increasing productivity, what we really me is that people should just work harder.
This is not really a motivating concept, because what we are really saying is that we didn’t think that our teams were working hard enough before.
Which actually has the opposite effect and will demotivate our teams.
We need to understand that there is a big difference working hard and being more productive.
Asking people to just work harder, is the lazy leaders way of trying to increase output. This is where we should be really doing our job and ensuring that our teams have the right tools, training and that they are being effective, i.e. that as much of their work results in positive output as possible.
This means that we need to analyse everything that we do, and eliminate tasks which add little to no value, or detract us from the actual goal. We need to focus on finding ways to work smarter, not harder. Remember there is a physical limit to the number of hours in a day.
When we take this approach we will find that we are appreciated by our teams so much more, this is how we can motivate them, and it will also probably give us the added benefit of increased effort.
When people see that their effort is turned directly into output, they are much more prepared to increase their effort. If they don’t see the benefit, then why would they do it.
People want to be successful, and as leaders, we need to put our teams into a position where they can be as successful as possible.
Once we have done that, then our job becomes easy, it’s now just a question of recognising and praising their increased output.
When your teams are focused on the wrong things, it doesn’t matter how much harder they work, you will not see any benefit. It will just lead to frustration, and demotivation.
I think there are many ways to do this, but the first and most important one, is to give the work a higher purpose, if possible. We all want to feel that we did a great days work and really added value or did some good.
One of the best examples I have seen of this was when I worked at DHL. The business manager told the team that the purpose of our ‘Improving On-Time Delivery Program’ was not about improving customer satisfaction, reducing penalties or increasing productivity, no, he said the real purpose of the program was to ensure that kids got their birthday presents on their birthday and not a day later, it was to ensure that patients received their medication when they needed it, and not a couple of days later.
This gave the work we were doing a higher purpose, and you could see the engagement visibly rise within the group. not only did we know what we were doing but we understood why.
A good way of increasing engagement, is to increase involvement in the decision making process, where possible, as they say ‘no involvement, no commitment’. If people feel part of the decision making process they will feel so much more involved in the project. It’s now their project rather than something that has been predetermined and they have no chance of shaping.
A good leader can also increases engagement through the way that he interacts with his team. If they keep their distance, and look to manage through a command and control style this will have a negative effect, whereas a leader who is open and close to his team, where the team feels they are working with the leader than for the leader, then there will be significantly more engagement.
Communicate, communicate, communicate – the better your team understand the goals, the approach and the reasoning, the more engaged they can be. If they are unsure of the what, why and how, then it’s very difficult to engage.
Whilst there are many other techniques, to increase engagement, I do feel that these are the most powerful and should be explored first.
If you have any comments or questions I would be more than happy to hear them