Saturday, 31 January 2015

Whose fault is it then?

Productivity is a 'neutral' measure - it doesn't come with praise or blame attached.  To understand the reasons behind the figures we have to dig deeper, sometimes much deeper, than the headlines.
For example, we might read that the construction industry has had a poor quarter in terms of measured productivity - but a scratch of the surface might reveal that bad weather caused lots of projects to be delayed and/or mothballed.

Such 'environmental factors' are chance events .... or are they.  If we know that every winter the construction industry loses a large part of its productivity, wouldn't we expect them to do something about it - rather than simply bemoan the fact.

Of course they can't change the weather ... but there are always things that can be done to ameliorate the effects.  Those things might not be cost effective ... but a little imagination and ingenuity should identify strategies for coping with cold, wet, frost or whatever.

Now, what about your business. How often do you think "I've been unlucky".  Next time, think what you could have done to have changed your 'luck' ... or what you can do to change it next time the same circumstances occur.

Saturday, 24 January 2015


We all need a bit of ‘me-time’ … when we forget about all the tasks we have on our To-Do list, forget all our work pressures, forget our commitments and concentrate on ourselves.  ‘Me-time’ needn’t be long; it is the quality that matters.

Well, of course the other thing that gives us real pleasure is ‘you-time’ given us by others; when people give us a present, their time, their company but above all, their consideration.

This applies in a work environment.  A ‘pat on the back’ or a quick “Well done” is our ‘you-time’… it lets us know our work is appreciated, that we are making a difference, making a contribution that is valued.

For this to work – as a motivating phenomenon - you have to give people tasks for which they are well-prepared … with the right equipment, the right tools, the right knowledge and the right skills.  Then reward.  Praise must be seen to be due and deserved.  If it is, the ‘warm glow’ that people feel raises their performance a couple of notches over quite a long time period.

So, get the conditions right – and start to give your employees some valuable ‘you-time’.  It is an investment worth making.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

My people .... blah, blah, blah!

Our people are our greatest asset - so say almost all senior managers - in all kinds of organisation.

Its a little surprising, then, that most organisations never act as if their people were their greatest asset.  They keep them in the dark, they ignore their concerns, they fail to exploit their talents, they fail to recognise good work, they fail to motivate and inspire.

This is not you, though ... is it?  You know that keeping people 'on board' is what matters.  telling them what they need to know and listening to what they think you need to know.  It doesn't take long to listen - and its free!  Why wouldn't you do it?

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Start now - and expect little

What will lead you to higher productivity in 2015?

New products, new technologies, new structures?

For most organisations, the answer is none of these.  Those that succeed in improving their productivity will do so by doing what they do now a little more effectively and/or efficiently.  Big gains come from lots of small, incremental gains.  Revolutions in productivity are rare.

So, start your structured, disciplined, comprehensive review of your operations today - and look for those areas where you can shave a bit off cycle times, waiting times, and waste.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Evaluate again

I read recently that Coca-Cola has withdrawn its voicemail system from its Atlanta headquarters in an effort to improve productivity.  Callers now get a simple message suggesting they should use another means of contact.

Are there any such 'improvements' you have made to your business that you might, on reflection, think of removing or sidelining?

It is useful to evaluate changes you have introduced - once, immediately after introduction - to check you got the improvement you expected; and then again, some time later, to check those improvements were real and are still there.

Big organisations - and big people - admit they got something wrong!