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The workday is bombarded by endless events, changes and information. Many managers find themselves caught up in the whirlwind on a daily basis and unable to produce value for their organisation. Others seem to flawlessly fit an entire workload into a day.

Productivity is a skill for every manager to master. At an individual level it is about capacity. For the team you are leading it is about enablement to perform and at an organisational level it is about impact on key business drivers.

Why are we so unproductive?

Globalisation and digitisation have had a transformative effect on organisations. Mergers and restructures happen quickly, often before teams have developed the capabilities required to manage their new environment. Goals are not always adequately communicated and cascaded. Collaboration falls aside in favour of siloed operations. Some managers lack effective decision making and time management skills.

How can managers increase their productivity and perform better? There are three key areas.

1.   Focus and prioritisation

It’s never been harder to stay focused at work. From distracting, open-plan environments to digital interruptions and an expectation for managers to be always available to their teams, focus is a real issue at an individual level.

As a manager, to achieve any level of success it is crucial you allow yourself time to focus on the big picture and on the critical goals that matter for your business. Mastering your time is critical, and tools like the 80:20 rule (also known as Pareto’s Principle) can help.

This rule suggests that 20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results. In other words, eight out of ten items on your to-do list probably don’t matter. Prioritise the two that do – and make sure your team are aligned with you on what those items are.

2.   Decision making

Every rise or fall in share price is the result of a decision someone made or failed to make.

No matter what industry you’re in, how big and well known your company may be, or how clever your strategy is, if you can’t make the right decisions quickly and effectively your business will lose ground.

Think about the last three decisions made by your leadership team.

  • Was it clear who was the decision-maker?
  • Was it clear who needed to be involved?
  • Was the process speedy and efficient?

If the answers to these questions are unsatisfactory, it may be time to review your decision-making approach.

At Lighthouse, our preferred tool for collaborative decision making is DAI, which adds speed and agility to the process. This acronym stands for the various roles required in the decision-making process:

D – Decision maker. Who has the D? The person with the D is the formal decision maker. He or she is accountable for the decision and has authority to resolve an impasse in decision making process and commits the organisation to action.

A = Advisor. Who needs to advise the D to make the best decision? Advisors have a key role in bringing the right information to the table and making recommendations on options and best courses of action.

I = Informed. The people who need to understand the decision, the rationale and follow the agreed course of action

Leaders should observe the DAI process in action and note if D’s are avoiding making decisions, if As are wanting to be Ds and I’s are seeking too much involvement in the decision making. If so, more training in the model may be necessary for all participants.

3.   Communication and Influence

It’s no surprise that communication was named as one of the most important skills to build within an organisation, in our recent research with Business Leaders.

Communication is multi -dimensional and multi directional. Some managers are good in one direction, say to their peers, but not so good cascading messages to their team, or conversely good down but not up to their manager. Identifying who your critical stakeholders are and setting up a communication rhythm is very important.

From a productivity perspective, managing up is crucial. If goals are not clear and you are on the receiving end of endless requests that don’t move the performance dial for your role and function, you will be the one adversely affected.

Dividing up tasks between your peers can be a very effective way to conquer the global requests and telephone hook-ups that are often at very “unfriendly” hours, with effective sharing of key takeaways and actions.

Clarity of communication and delegation of ownership down to your team with immediate feedback is important to raise team productivity, and to accelerate the success of your newer team members.

It is also vital to understand what I refer to as responsible communication. Essentially that means that if the person or persons don’t take action or change their behaviour, then I haven’t found the right way to communicate to them yet. I need to adapt.

Productivity happens through a combination of capabilities, processes and established behaviours. The best leaders know to focus on what they can control, have a clear process around decision making and take responsibility for their own communication effectiveness.

At Lighthouse, we partner with leaders to deliver business outcomes through changing behaviour and improving capability. If you are looking to improve productivity in your organisation or team, then please get in touch to discuss some practical solutions. 1300 244 373, [email protected]

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