Which means that British workers work longer hours for lower pay than their counterparts

Productivity seems to be well in the sights of the government, judging by the recent statement from Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond. He described Britain’s productivity gap as one of the economy’s long term weaknesses, stating that "We lag the US and Germany by some 30 percentage points… we also lag France by over 20 and Italy by 8. Which means in the real world, it takes a German worker 4 days to produce what we make in 5; which means, in turn, that too many British workers work longer hours for lower pay than their counterparts.”

There are policy and structural issues within the UK that impact directly on these figures, but we need to look nearer to home to truly get under the skin of this problem and move those figures in the right direction. 

Working closely with our clients, we hear how pushed they all are, how difficult it is to meet ever more demanding customer requirements.No one in any management team we have spoken to recently is complaining that they haven’t got enough to do!   However, leaders’ and managers’ personal productivity probably is rarely discussed around the board table, despite it being of strategic importance to business success. So, in our desire to succeed, have we confused being busy for being productive? 

Personal productivity is exactly that, very personal and our responses to customers and colleagues on a daily basis, often happen at a sub-conscious level.  We may not be aware of our habits but they have a huge impact on our efficiency and effectiveness. Some of these habits may drive personal productivity, but we must remain vigilant. Are our choices scratching an itch rather than maximising productivity? Will the next task I choose to tackle be based on balancing effectiveness and efficiency, working smarter,  or will it just be another tick on my list?
Most managers will have been on time management courses, picking up tips and wrinkles to help claw back precious time, but personal productivity is about so much more. It’s about how we respond sometimes minute by minute, to our working environment. Managers often have little understanding of how powerful they are – how they behave is like a virus, easy to catch! So, if my manager’s personal productivity is less than good, it will inevitably impact on my workload, but at the same time it can influence my behaviours as I sub-consciously norm to their negative behaviours.

Improving personal productivity, not being a busy fool, must start with being more self-aware so we notice our habits and know how our feelings and thoughts are driving our actions.  We often use a simple exercise in our Personal Productivity workshops that ask people to identify from paired options, which they would do first. The results are fascinating. In discussing the choices they make, people consistently justify those choices based on what is sound logic to them. Every choice has an upside and a downside, but our minds aren’t as objective as we think they are in evaluating the pros and cons. We don’t like facts that don’t fit with our decisions, so we tend to blank them out!
By being more conscious and personally honest about our decisions, productivity can be improved.   ‘I always tackle the big tasks first because they are business priorities,’ seems absolutely logical.  But by leaving the ‘small stuff’ until later, you may be stopping other people from being able to progress their tasks.  When we dig deeper we often find that some people avoid ‘the small stuff’ because frankly it’s boring, not because it isn’t important.
Even in smaller businesses this type of thinking drives silo working, which undermines productivity and therefore profitability big style. In Sales, I may put in a design, a specification, a proposal that is quick and easy to do therefore it improves my productivity, BUT what’s quick and easy for me may cause chaos in Operations when they come to deliver what I have sold. My lack of detail, cut and paste, cutting corners may ultimately significantly erode the margin.
In Sales I’m feeling happy because my figures are on the up but if I’m not aware of how my work impacts overall productivity, then my personal productivity will be counter-productive to the business.

So top down and bottom up, personal productivity comes from a combination of:

  • Leadership and management that results in a company culture of bigger picture thinking, excellent communication across teams and a shared understanding of our end to end processes.
  • A culture where individuals are self-aware, make personally honest choices about what they do and when they do it, with an informed understanding of how they impact on customers and colleagues alike.

If you would like to explore how you can further improve personal productivity for your business, please contact us on 01536 533 541.
Half day 9am - 1pm
t: +44 (0)1536 533 541



COURSE DATES: See course list
TIME: 10am - 4pm
VENUE: Merlin Training Suite
COURSE FEE: £300 plus VAT
CALL: 01536 533 541 to discuss

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