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  • 01 Feb 2023 7:47 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Most people assume that some people are more productive than others - and for some jobs, that is clearly true.  But for many people, their productivity is determined by ‘the system’, the technology and the productivity or performance of the people around them - at the previous workstation, for example.

    So, should we worry about individual performance or concentrate our attention on that system.

    Well, it’s not necessarily a simple question to answer.

    The reason that in some jobs or roles, people are more productive is due to a number of possible factors - experience, skill, attitude, motivation, etc.  it would be foolish not to pay attention to skill levels - to make sure our employees (all our employees) have the tools, equipment and skills they need.

    If they all have those factors provides, the ‘system’ is likely to be more effective.

    So, work at the system level and the individual level to improve productivity.

  • 25 Jan 2023 7:49 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Many firms put in systems to improve productivity, by monitoring what is going on and how hard people are working.  They manage - or micro-manage - the time of their employees and how it is filled.

    But they’ve forgotten something.

    Employees don’t work well when they are micro-managed.   They work well when they know their role in the overall work system, when they have the correct tools and equipment to do their job, when they are fully and properly trained for their job.

    Too many firms fail to address all of these factors.

    “But what about motivation, what about rewards?” I hear you ask.

    I am not ignoring these but, for me, motivation comes  from employees knowing their role - their purpose.  What do they do that helps the organisation achieve, succeed and grow?

    So, forget time management of your employees.  Concentrate on managing their purpose and their understanding of that purpose.

  • 18 Jan 2023 7:51 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Do you have a dog?

    If so, you know that, above all else, dogs value ... food, yes, but consistent behaviour from their owner.  That is how you train your dog - by applying consistent behaviour tied to small rewards and giving praise when they do something you perceive as good. You make it clear how you want them to behave and reward them when they do so.

    People are not very different.

    If you make it clear to employees how you want them to behave and praise or reward them for good behaviour - and do so consistently - they will respond with their loyalty - and with their productivity.

  • 12 Jan 2023 9:45 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Last week I suggested that technology might be useful in helping drive productivity forward.

    This week, I am changing mat view after further reflection.

    Yes, over time firms have used technology to improve their business performance.  But there is some evidence to suggest the pattern is now somewhat changed.  It seems as though well-performing firms are using investment in technology to increase the performance advantage they already have.  In effect, they are realising some of the value they have crated to fund the next stage of development - a virtuous circle of improvement.

    Firms who cannot realise that funding stream have to work much harder or take greater risks to fund their development - and may spend some time playing ‘catchup’ before they can break into the circle.

  • 04 Jan 2023 9:05 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Major technological change does boost productivity. Think of the really big developments - the wheel, the steam engine, the computer, the Internet, the robot. Though it takes time, such technologies have transformed industry and  human life in general.  Sometimes, of course ,the developments are on a smaller scale or more niche in terms of applicability - but important drivers of productivity no less.  

    So what are the new technologies that are transforming or will transform industrial and commercial processes.

    Well, drones are proving very useful in surveying both small and large physical areas - and objects.  Using a drone to scan an aircraft’s fuselage for signs of wear is much quicker than building the scaffolding for humans to do a close-up physical inspection. Artificial and mixed reality headsets could revolutionise skills training and development - and assessment.

    The ‘trick’ is to keep your eye on technological development and regularly assess whether it does, or could, apply to your business, your products, your processes.  Scanning the technology horizon should involve looking at new and emerging technologies - not just obviously relevant technologies but seemingly irrelevant technologies that can be made relevant by the way in which they are applied.

    Why wouldn’t you look at what might be a helping hand to improved productivity?

  • 28 Dec 2022 7:50 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Since publication date of this blog is right at the end of the year, I simply want to wish everyone a productive new year. During the holidays, I am sure you have been reflecting on your goals for 2023 and how you may achieve them.  Without goals you simply cannot be successful. With goals , but no plan to achieve them, you will be frustrated.

    Success doesn’t just happen - even with dedication and hard work. Your parents were wrong.  Your work has to be in the right direction, moving you (sometimes very slowly) towards your goals.  Each action you take should be part of your master plan. 

    Of course you need some luck -but people tend to make their own luck by recognising and exploiting opportunities as they arise.

    You might need to take a risk or two  - but if your goal is important enough, it should be worth it.  However, take only controlled risks - where you have assessed the potential consequences and thought about mitigation if things do go wrong.  You will become safer and more resilient.

    Recognise those who can help you - snd those who cannot or will not. Engage with the former.

    2023 could be your best year yet.  Try and make it so. I wish you well.

  • 21 Dec 2022 8:05 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    With Working from Home still being a a large factor for many organisations, monitoring of employee work habits has become more common.

    When did they send the email?

    When did they access the latest briefing note?

    Questions like these ,and many more, are becoming easier to answer with messaging snd team-based software becoming prevalent.

    Such monitoring is often seen as an infringement of employee privacy and considered inappropriate for ‘well-managed’ firms.

    However, the same data that can be used to ’spy on’ workers and hold them to account for their lack of presence or  engagement can also be used to check on their well-being.

    Instead of the questions above, we could ask:

    Why are they sending work-related emails at 2 am? Or ...

    Why have they been online for seven straight hours?

    A few days or perhaps weeks of out-of-hours working will start to lower their focus and their productivity.

    Management means making sure you have all the right resources in place, operating at optimum performance.  You need your employees fit, engaged and alert not tired/exhausted.

    So, if you monitor, ask yourself why?

  • 14 Dec 2022 9:42 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Most of us have some form of ToDo list.

    This might be very simple  - a list of things in our head that we want to do today or this week - or we might use a sophisticated task manager.  However there are often things on the list that shouldn’t be there - either their relevance (or their due date) has passed, or they are simply not important enough - they don’t make a large enough contribution to our strategic goals.

    These items should be moved to a (real or imaginary) Don’t Do list to clear the Todo list and refocus our efforts on what is really important.

    Not doing something saves time, effort and money - a real productivity earner.  Moving it to a Don’t Do list secures the win.

  • 07 Dec 2022 3:21 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Some of us are not naturally morning people. 

    It takes us a couple of hours to becomes fully awake and alert and reach peak performance.

    If in that couple of hours. you’ve  had one or more important meetings, or you have worked on a key task, you may have performed less well than you can.

    So, is there anything you can do to improve your morning performance.

    Luckily, there is.  There are some simple things you can do which might help.

    Avoid coffee. Drink some iced water instead. This rehydrates you and jumpstarts your metabolism.

    Do a few exercises.  Not necessarily a full workout - but simple physical reaches and stretches, snd some breathing exercises.  Again, this wakes the body up.

    Analyse your schedule and set priorities.  Decide what you can reasonably accomplish.

    If you can, meditate or practise mindfulness. Clear your mind of yesterday’s baggage.

    Now, you should be ready to perform.  You have turned yourself into a morning person.

  • 30 Nov 2022 7:55 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    The UK is successful in many areas- it has a large, successful renewable energy sector, a whopping great financial services sector and a large tech startup sector.  Yet UK productivity does not reflect these advantages.

    Skills seem to hold back UK industry - many firms are finding it impossible to recruit the skilled or experienced workers they need.

    This ends in a bidding war for the available talent - and this reduces productivity by putting up costs.

    Traditionally, if labour is expensive or scarce - or both - firms have used technology to fill the gaps.

    This might be what they have to do now - to meet the current skills shortage.

    They should investigate where technology solutions can transform processes .and where it can help improve the information flows that will enable the executive team to better manage those processes.

    All of that will only work, however, if the firms have the necessary skills and expertise to manage the resulting transformation projects.  Technology can unlock growth and improve productivity.  But it can place a noose around the neck of the organisation if technology solutions are badly designed or poorly implemented.

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