Saturday, 17 March 2018

Can you ride the wave

The global consulting organisation McKinsey is suggesting that the recent sluggish productivity performance in the developed world might be coming to an end.  We might soon see productivity rises like we did before the economic downturn - of the order of 2% per year.

Are they right?

Only time will tell.  The time is right - but are the conditions right?  Has all that quantitative easing improved the productivity infrastructure and prepared businesses for an upturn?  Have we been developing skills? Are there technological breakthroughs in the pipeline?

(The answers are maybe, maybe and maybe - but, as we know from history, cycles occur for no good reason - ups and downs .... so perhaps the time is right and enough has been done to ride a wave.  So much of economics is down to confidence anyway that if McKinsey can convince enough people they are right, it will probably become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So good for McKinsey.  I'm with them.  Let's all talk higher productivity - and then deliver what measures we can in our own sphere to make it happen.

If you - and others like you - all do the same, we can all meet up in the boom times.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Think - and employ - differently

The world of employment has been changing for some time - especially in developed nations.  More people work part-time, change jobs frequently and have multiple jobs and 'portfolio' careers.

What are the implications for productivity - and for your organisation?

One obvious point is that it becomes more important to get people 'up to speed' very quickly - what is often these days termed the 'onboarding process'.  It is imperative that yous take this process seriously and do all you can to engage employees early and often, giving them the knowledge and skills they need to fill any gaps - but also to motivate them to add maximum value.

Another implication is that retaining knowledge and talent is important - so if the job market is changing, perhaps you need to change your employment practices to reflect this. One approach is to offer employees a 'tour of duty' rather than a job - agree with them the outcomes they are to produce over a given project/timescale.  When the tour of duty is complete, they either move on -or agree another tour.  This retains their talent but still gives them the benefits of a portfolio career -  variety of work and experience, and a degree of freedom.

It is possible to move with the times - and win .... but only when you recognise the 'spirit of the times'  and act accordingly.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Your chicken, their egg!

Do motivated employees create good work and higher productivity?  Yes!

But this is a 'What came first? Chicken or egg?' scenario.

I would argue that giving employees good work motivates them and leads to higher productivity. 

An effective business leader creates good jobs - and engages employees with regard to their role in the organisation.  The engaged employee now works for an organisation that seems to value them - and they respond by engaging more fully with their role.

The organisation (via higher productivity) and the employee (via greater job satisfaction) both win.

So take a look at redefining (or even redesigning) some of the roles in your organisation to engage and motivate your employees.  You know it makes sense!

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Why don't we do what we know is impoetant.

Recently I was writing some course material on improving innovation and I suggested there that to make people more innovative, you need them engaged and you need to give them freedom to explore.

Then I came across Gallup's new State of the Global Workplace report which suggests that only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs.

If both of these are correct, then it is not surprising that the world is struggling to improve innovation and productivity.

Developing our people (human capital?) is the single most important thing we can do. Yet, many do not do it.  

Do you - in your business?

Saturday, 10 February 2018

From Peru to you

As Peru prepares to celebrate the 2021 bicentenary of its independence, the government has set itself one major goal: to make Peru a full member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The aim is to adopt public policies that meet established OECD standards and provide Peru with an important opportunity to strengthen its institutions and consolidate the country’s development.  But in order to do so, there remain important industrial gaps that will have need be bridged, especially in terms of productivity.
"So what?  How does this affect me?", I her you ssk.
Well, the most important part of this is the fact that Peru has set a goal and an aim that should motivate the country to perform.
What is your productivity aim or goal?  If you don't have one, you are not very likely to be successful in improving your productivity.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Are your workers at fault?

There has been a debate in Trinidad yesterday about whether workers (and especially their poor attendance) is to blame for low productivity. Trades unions say 'No'.

I agree with the unions.

In my experience, poor productivity within an organisation is almost always a 'system or culture failure'. Either work is badly organised or the culture of the organisation mitigates against high engagement and high performance by workers.

In your organisation, of course, you hold the levers for change.  If you cannot improve productivity, then you are not managing effectively.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

I often say that I have built my career on asking stupid questions. Improving productivity is all about asking questions.  Why do we do it like that?  Who is responsible for this?  Why do it that way? Where should this be done?  Why do we do this at all?

However, I have come to realise that asking questions is not the answer.  The real secret is listening to the answers you are given and sorting out the valid answers from the questionable.  In lean terms it is also necessary to 'go to Gemba' - find out for yourself what is happening.  Observe as well as listen.

None of this is difficult.  But is is amazing how many people don't do it.  They listen to what the manager tells them - and accept it without checking with the guys (snd girls) who actually do it 'on the ground'. In your case, don't take what your senior and middle managers tell you - check for yourself on the floor.

So listen, ask questions and observe reality. Then you might understand.  If you understand, you have the chance to improve.