For the last few weeks, all I've thought about is productivity. The latest ONS statistics paint a grim picture of our future according to most news outlets, yet very few people seem to be able to provide practical advice about how UK companies and public sector organisations can be more productive.
When I look at the practical steps I have asked my clients to take, the best approach is always holistic and brave.
Stripping out cost from the supply chain, or redesigning a process might help in the short term, and that is often what consultants end up doing, but we really should be approaching this issue from the top down.
What does this mean in practice? Here are five things to consider:
1. Leadership - An honest assessment is required of whether your leadership team has the skills and behaviours to motivate and lead the workforce to be more productive. If your current team has not demonstrated this enough, it's time to be brutal about what's lacking in terms of success and experience. Find an independent person to hold a mirror up to your strengths and your weaknesses, take the feedback on the chin and make some changes.
2. Strategy - It still surprises me that so many organisations are going about their daily business without a clear, relevant, up-to-date strategy. Get the right people in the room to revisit the strategy you have, ensure you are doing what you'd agree to do, revise it or start from scratch. If you are using outdated methods or out-of-touch people (I know you know who they are) to find a new solution, that might the problem right there.
3. Workforce - If you are communicating effectively with your workforce - and it's a two way street - then congratulations, you are already on your way to boosting your productivity. However, many things may be preventing your employees from approaching what they do with passion, which in turn makes them more productive. In my experience, this can be anything from one bad manager (yes, they do exist), to reward or team structure. Workforce challenges are broad and complicated, but these are the people you are relying on for results, so diagnose what is or isn't working for them and do something about it. You can't please all the people all the time, but you can look to the role model companies out there – those with high employee engagement and low staff turnover – and learn something.
Here’s a starter for ten http://fortune.com/best-companies/google/
4. Lean - It's more than a buzzword. Chugging along with processes you've used for decades is probably not serving you well. The world is changing rapidly, and your ways of working need to move with the times. An independent review is always useful, but you also need to act on any feedback.
And yes, a consequence of this can sometimes mean reducing overheads, but ensure this does not become an exercise on a spreadsheet, and investigate thoroughly the impact of losing certain employees and suppliers on your business and staff, before striking through a list of names, projects or plans.
5. Digital transformation – These words still send many people running screaming into the dark recesses of their offices. It’s happening. Hop aboard or get left behind. It doesn’t have to mean you need to find £20,000,000 to automate everything you do, create the next Snapchat, or replace your customer service teams with drones or robots. But then again it might. What’s becoming clear to many leaders is that everyone needs a digital transformation strategy, if only to clarify what it means to your organisation, in your particular market, and for your staff.
Oh, and please buy that CRM system you've always longed for! It will change your life.
To discuss any of the above, please email Rakhee at firstname.lastname@example.org
Poor productivity is the key economic issue of our age.