• 06 Apr 2022 10:35 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Some managers think they need to keep an eye on their staff, fearing that, if they don’t, those staff will nor give their maximum contribution. One of the problems is that the staff will know they are being watched and will lose motivation immediately, fearing they are not trusted to work to the best of their ability.

    Of course, managers need to be in control but they need to be more careful about why and how they do It.

    It  is the work that has to be controlled, not the workers.

    This is best done by comparing achievement and work completed to the planned schedule of work.  This is why we measure work and establish targets.  If those targets are set with the cooperation of the workforce and subsequent progress and achievement is also shared. the workforce will naturally seek to meet the agreed targets.

    Transparency of planning and visibility of progress is much more effective than direct oversight.

  • 31 Mar 2022 7:56 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    I talked last week about giving people decent work to do if you want them to be self-motivated.

    I stand by that but, of course, it’s not the complete solution.

    Many businesses overload key members of the workforce so that they burn out and either leave or go off sick.

    Thankfully, in the last few years we’ve have started to hear about concerns for employee wellbeing.

    Workers need to have a workload that is within their skill set and their capacity.  Of course they might have tight deadlines and challenging tasks to complete but these should not be relentless and all-consuming.

    Overloading employees leads to stress, burnout, and poor productivity.

    So, wellbeing is not a ‘nice to have’.  It is an essential factor in underpinning high productivity. You have to focus on engagement and wellbeing.

    So, give your employees decent work and then make sure they are fit and well enough to give of their best.

  • 23 Mar 2022 7:29 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    I have said may times in this blog that expecting higher productivity through exhortation is unlikely to be successful.

    Organisations or nations need systematic processes that address the causes of low productivity - and actions to reverse or eliminate those causes.

    In addition, though, employees need decent work to do … they need clear tasks which they understand and where they also understand the role of their tasks in the greater scheme of things… i.e. they should understand their role in fulfilling customer needs.  Without this knowledge, they are unlikely to be self-motivating.

    Of course they also need the skills to be able to carry out their role effectively.The organisation must make sure these skills are fully developed.

    If the organisation can also give employees some understanding of the drivers of high productivity, or the causes of low productivity, so much the better.  They can then be engaged as part of the productivity effort, discussing how their role can be improved - and helping investigate potential changes to working systems, processes and working methods that offer the potential for higher productivity.

    The organisation should also help them to set their own targets, secure in the knowledge that those targets are not sub-optimal, causing problems elsewhere.

    This is starting to sound complicated but it is actually quite simple.

    Give people decent work to do, give them the skills they need and involve them in potential improvements.  Make the changes with them, not to them.

  • 16 Mar 2022 10:14 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Many governments Introduce productivity or efficiency drives. They aIm to reduce the size of the state not by cutting services but by cutting the cost of those services.

    However, few, if any, of those drives have the intended results.


    Well, those governments rarely introduce systematic productivity improvement processes, and even more rarely attempt the culture change needed to make any significant change.  There are no targets, no benchmarks.

    An aim without a plan is simply a wish … and there are not enough fairies around to make all the wishes come true.

    Productivity by exhortation is doomed to failure.

  • 11 Mar 2022 7:45 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Many businesses (too many) concentrate on efficiency at the expense of customer service.  We have all waited too long on a customer service call or had difficulty talking to a person we want to rectify a problem.

    If we mess with our customers, they may not return.  And they will make negative comments to their friends - and to the wider world on social media.

    You have to do the right things before doing them right.  Concentrate on quality AND efficiency.

  • 03 Mar 2022 4:56 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Platforms for digital communication and collaboration (everything from e-mail through Google Docs to Zoom and Teams) can be very useful.  

    The problem is that when organisations use several of these, individuals can lose focus and productivity.

    They find they can’t find messages or files because they can’t remember on which platform they originated.  They end up asking colleagues to resend messages or files, making those people also less productive.

    Also, different platforms have different user interfaces, search methods and so on - making it difficult to remember how some parts of each application or platform work.

    To achieve higher productivity, multiple platforms must be integrated into a comprehensive, cohesive, and frictionless digital workplace.

  • 23 Feb 2022 4:01 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Those of us charged with improving productivity can sometime get anxious about our own, personal productivity.  Are we working hard enough? If so, why isn’t the productivity of the organisation higher?

    These are the wrong questions to ask.  Beating ourselves up is no way to a better future.

    We should ask:

    What have I done today?

    What have I achieved?

    What have I set in motion that will pay productivity benefits in the future?

    What have I done to further the organisation’s mission and vision?

    Its not about ‘how hard?’ (did I work) but ‘how effectively?’.  This applies to the rest of organisation.

    “How do I create more effective systems, processes, procedures, working methods, working practices?

    What have I done today to work towards that?”


  • 16 Feb 2022 10:26 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Productivity requires employees to be fully trained in all aspects of their work role, preferably  including being aware of the organisation’s declared mission snd overall strategy.

    The problem for the organisation is that training can be expensive - especially in terms of taking an employee away from the workplace.

    One standard answer is “If you think training is expensive, try ignorance and incompetence”.

    But another problem is that too many organisations  have failed to keep up with cultural and technological changes.

    Over the last 20 years we have created the ‘video generation’.  People expect to learn things on YouTube rather than in books.  They automatically choose a source with pictures - and preferably moving ones.

    Training is still, however, largely done verbally rather than visually.  Going visual, to many trainers, means adding the occasional graphic to their PowerPoint presentation.

    Not good enough.

    We all have the technology in our phones to take high quality video with sound. Video editing software is available for computers, tablets and even phones. So why aren’t trainers using more video - for workplace  snd even home-based training.

    They may not have the skills to create effective materials….. but if they can’t help themselves to develop the necessary skills, what on earth is their credibility as professional trainers?

    Physician - heal thyself!

  • 10 Feb 2022 7:24 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Many of us have computers at home. We may use them for work-rerated tasks (especially now more of us spend at least some working time at home) or for social/leisure purposes.

    We tend to use a small set of applications on a regular basis - a word processor, a spreadsheet app, email, messaging, task management, a calendar, and so on.

    We end up with lots of files on our computer (and perhaps additionally in  ‘the cloud’).

    Finding those files when we need them can sometimes be tricky - but finding all the files we need for further work on a complex project can be particularly tricky.

    The obvious solution - though one that many people do not practise - is, rather than allowing applications to store folders in their default folder - to create folders relating to a particular task, topic or project.  This takes a little effort at the time  but saves so much time subsequently.  You can , if you wish, use sub-folders to separate files of different types or different sub-topics.

    An alternative, if your computer supports it, is to ‘tag’ files with the name of the task, topic or project.

    You can then identify and recall all files for your further work on, or updating of, a project.

    i am sorry if many of you have found this tip too simple and obvious but I asm sure some readers will have found it useful.  I don’t think I should ever really apologise for simplicity.

  • 02 Feb 2022 7:17 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    If you are doing some DIY work at home, say building a new cupboard, you might perform badly when compared to a professional joiner building the same cupboard. He is likely to build a higher quality cupboard and to build it faster.   His productivity is obviously greater.

    Why does he outperform you?

    Probably for two main reasons. He is likely to have a better set of tools and equipment in his professional toolbag than you do in your home toolbox.

    Secondly, he will have been better trained and will have honed his skills through his experience as s professional joiner.  

    This is a general lesson.

    In companies, employees will perform better if they have the right tools and equipment, and the right skills.

    So, regularly review your technology deployment to make sure it is appropriate and ‘up to the job’, and that it is part of an effective processing system.

    Then review your processes for skills diagnosis and development.  Do you have the skills you need to operate that technology effectively?  How are those skills likely to change over the next few years?  What must you do to ensure your employees acquire/develop those new or changed skills?

    Skills empower employees to deliver better work and to take greater pride in their work.

    So, this is a truly win-win situation. You get higher productivity; your employees get greater job satisfaction.

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