Often when it comes to productivity the common understanding is its all about achieving high numbers, securing the largest sales, adhering endless processes and multi-tasking on myriad projects. This outdated understanding comes from the old believe that “more is always better” – probably from theory of mass production. I personally feel this believe is a misnomer in today’s business environment. No doubt an old theory will continue to influence today’s minds but there is a need of conscious effort to adapt to the new environment. A mind set shift is needed.
It is true that some organizations are shifting to the new mind set, however the majority still makes business decision based on the old-fashioned productivity mantra. We still have people who are hired to do a lot of things in the name of multi-tasking. There was a report stated that the reason why a lot of modern people becoming more stressful is because they don’t have time to focus instead being pushed around to varieties of ‘initiatives’. Does that sound familiar to you? No wonder people are getting burned out and leave the organization for something else. Again, a mind set shift is needed.
The new age of productivity believes in sustainability. Sustainability includes the ability of its talents to stay longer in the organization and continue to produce great performance over that period of time. This sustainable talent and organization relationship creates solid knowledge foundation and an opportunity for robust performance in the long run. Organization and its knowledge cannot mature if the talents come and go within short period. Hence organization needs to adapt to this change of treating people like robots and superhuman.
The new age of productivity requires the organization to see its people not just as the driving force of the business, but also as the future leaders that will take the organization further chasing its vision. Yeah, sounds familiar? Stereotypical organization will glorify this all the time but very few that actually take careful planning and relentlessly implementing it. Many still resist the hard fact of today’s multi-generational workforce and prefer to do the business the way how it used to be. To paraphrase Albert Einstein, you cannot use the old mind to create something new.
For organization that wants change, you need to make two fundamental shifts to achieve it– firstly to stop asking people to operate like robots and superhuman. There is no way people can continuously perform multi-tasks, pushed around and at high speed for long time. I don’t think even the bosses can. There is a need to recognize that people become productive when they believe in what they do and have enough energy to do it. As Tony Schwartz put it that human beings perform the best and are most productive when they alternate between period of intense focus and intermittent renewal.
Secondly, there is dire need to move away from getting the most out of employees and talents to systematically invest in them to meet their four core needs. Organizations really have to do more this time to reap the productivity juice. So the talents are inspired and fuelled every day to give their best. In his article, Tony Schwartz again explained the four core needs are physical health (achieved through nutrition, sleep, daytime renewal and exercise), emotional well-being (which grows out of feeling appreciated and valued), mental clarity (the ability to focus intensely, prioritize and think creatively) and spiritual significance (which comes from the feeling of serving a mission beyond generating a profit). Sounds simple? Let’s find out some of the feedback that I’ve gotten recently when I share this with people around me and my clients.
“The employee has the choice to do these shifts by themselves so there is no need or obligation from the company to promote this internally.”
“The employee has sole and full responsibility to be agile and meeting the need of the organization to stay relevant. Else they should ship-out.”
“The new generation is so pampered by all these non-productive thinking theories. The employees should learn how to manage their bosses, colleagues, vendors and clients effectively. There is no way they can manage their business well without knowing how to do these basics right.”
To adopt the new age of productivity, top leaders and key people must be willing to change first. Often I hear that the company goals are to create a highly engaged, employee friendly and high performance culture but then I realized the bosses are not willing to change first in order to achieve these goals. These goals are for ‘the people’ but not for ‘the top leaders’ because the top leaders believe what brought them there enough to bring them forward. Yes change is often uncomfortable especially for someone who has ‘forgotten’ how is it like to be asked to change or do something new. J This is the hard truth but you need to build a culture of trust somehow to adopt this new age of productivity. Once the top leaders are convinced and changed, this new productivity mind set will flow like water looking for its own level in a river. It will pervade throughout the organization and hey we’re back in business!
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