Personal Perspectives on Productivity: Part II

W e launched our new blog series on workplace productivity with an interview with John Campbell, the Group Manager for Business Improvement and Innovation for the New Zealand Customs Service. As we continue our series, we’d like to explore each of the questions we put to John in a little more detail. So this week we asked other executives what issues have the biggest impact on their workplace productivity. Is there a common denominator? We’ve collated their observations below:

Employee engagement

In our previous post, Campbell commented that in his organisation, employee engagement was the most important factor for maintaining productivity. And it seems that supporting and motivating your employees is indeed significant as, like John, other executives also believe that this is critical for maintaining productivity. Steve Waldegrave, company director of Anticipate Ltd, stresses the importance of treating your employees well: “It has the biggest potential to reduce productivity if you don’t.” Craig Moffat, Head of Specialist Distribution at BNZ, spoke of the need for a “high-performance culture based on collaboration, respect, commitment, focus and results”. “Without a shared or common approach to winning for your customers and shareholders it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to create and sustain a meaningful competitive edge,” he says. Sally Homer, Talent and Development Specialist at Transpower New Zealand, also makes the point that being “well-led and managed” is essential for the success of any organisation.

Clarity of purpose

For some executives, ensuring that everyone in their team has clarity regarding their role and their contribution to the organisation has a significant impact on workplace productivity. Brendan Thawley, Chief Adviser for Customer Strategy and Transformation at NZ Post, maintains that “clear priorities and focus” are essential. So too does Homer, who points out that not only is it important for employees to know what is expected of them, but it’s also vital that they understand “what ‘good’ looks like”. It’s not enough to simply set targets to maintain productivity; employees must understand exactly what they are expected to deliver and how they will deliver it.

Work environment and processes

For some, practical issues such as their physical work environment or work habits and processes are the most significant factors affecting their productivity. Chris Shaw, the National Sales Manager for Sky TV New Zealand, works in an open plan office and consequently contends with constant interruptions. Salesforce.com solutions strategist Stuart Jones also lists interruptions in the form of “internal dialogue” like meetings as the biggest factor to undermine his productivity: “It’s those internal meetings I have to attend where the same objectives could be achieved in a better way, for example through collaboration of documentation or in a message group. I plan my days so I do admin first thing in the morning and admin at the end of the day and I focus on it at those times, but when I keep getting interrupted in the most productive blocks of my day – the mornings and the afternoons – I find that extremely disruptive.”

Food for thought? If any of these observations have encouraged you to share your own experiences, we’d love to hear from you. And keep an eye out for our next post, where we continue this discussion with executives’ take on the never-ending struggle to achieve an effective work/life balance – a topic that’s sure to generate plenty of interest.