Productivity is more than meeting deadlines and checking off tasks at the end of the day. Productivity can also be measured within the pursuit of achieving a goal. For example, a productive day for an employee might involve being able to access all of the company’s file storage accounts without having to dig for or reset passwords.
This measure of productivity often goes unnoticed because it’s not an end result, but it’s equally important. When your team’s efforts are impeded, goals take longer to reach, and it’s hard to identify why.
Your company is only as strong as your staff, so it makes sense to want a productive team. However, that’s difficult when you can’t see what’s setting your team back. The most invisible setbacks are unexamined assumptions about how smoothly your business is operating.
If you’re searching for ways to improve your team’s productivity and have yet to find a solution, here are two beliefs about productivity that could be undermining your efforts:
1. The belief that productivity is only reflected in outcomes
We’re trained to see productivity reflected in favorable outcomes, status updates, and completed task lists. This makes sense. However, the processes and systems we use to achieve outcomes aren’t always productive. Therefore, favorable outcomes are achieved, but at a high cost: wasted time, wasted resources, and a frustrated team.
Expand your definition of productivity
When your definition of productivity only includes accomplished tasks, you’ll be looking for end results to gauge productivity; you won’t notice when your systems are unproductive. Your team will get things done by creating inefficient workarounds that get things done but waste time in the process.
Until you expand your awareness of productivity to include the systems your team uses, they’ll waste precious time trying to get the system to work correctly. At the end of the day, you’ll get the summary of what they accomplished but you won’t see their breakdowns.
At the end of the day, if your marketing team’s deadlines were met, you won’t know they spent the entire day searching for a specific resource, tearing apart your Dropbox, Google Drive, and Azure accounts.
Unproductive systems put your business at risk
Anything that sidetracks your team will kill their productivity. This includes having to stop what they’re doing to search for logins, passwords, serial numbers, files, and email addresses. They’ll also get sidetracked finding ways to bypass an inefficient system; like using “Shadow IT.”
Computer Weekly defines shadow IT as “systems or solutions used within an organization without the approval, or even the knowledge of, corporate IT.” The pressure to be productive in a disorganized environment drives workers to install their own tools on company machines, often without any regard for data security.
Fine-tuning your systems automatically increases productivity
What your team is able to accomplish in a month could be possible in a week, if they were using productive systems, starting with how your files and information are accessed.
A system that makes all of your data and information searchable, and personalizes the relevance of search results for each user is ideal. Coveo, a leader in intelligent search, calls this type of environment an “intelligent workplace.”
They say the problem with relevance is more involved than employees taking a half hour to find a document. The real problem is the system’s inability to provide relevant results during searches. That’s bad news because productivity hinges on finding relevant information quickly.
Coveo explains the connection between intelligent search and relevance, “Relevant information powers the innovation, collaboration and upskilled workforce that companies need to win their market. Looking at search as just a “function” or a commodity to be managed is a crucial missed opportunity.”
The usability of your systems is the core that drives productivity. You could have the most intricate file storage system on the planet, but if your staff can’t quickly find what they’re looking for, it doesn’t matter.
It’s no longer enough to have a search function that returns documents based on keywords. Even search engines have moved past that. Matching exact keywords doesn’t guarantee relevance. That’s why Google changed their algorithm.
2. Listening to complaints is unproductive
As painful as it is to listen to someone call out your company’s weaknesses, consider yourself lucky when someone takes the time to do it.
Not everyone will voice a complaint, but some will. Listening to compliments will make you feel good, but listening to complaints will help you solve problems you didn’t know existed.