How happy are you with your own productivity and that of your colleagues and direct reports? The current view is that – in the UK at least – there is reason to be concerned. Productivity improvement stalled some time ago and has yet to reach pre-recession levels. It’s a potential challenge on an organisational, team and individual level. It’s a focus of much comment currently. It’s the new black of business.
The Bank of England talks of “The UK Productivity Puzzle”.
The BBC reports, “The productivity of the UK workforce remains slightly lower than in 2007, marking an “unprecedented absence” of growth since World War Two, official figures show.”
And the OECD documents that the UK must “fix its productivity problem to improve living standards”.
As a result we hear much talk of the importance of exercise & the freedom to work at home and the benefit of providing sleep rooms (even puppy rooms!). Whilst there is merit in many of these approaches, there is evidence that the most effective path is already within you: know your strengths and deploy them intelligently. And know the strengths of your team and deploy them intelligently too.
- Significantly greater productivity. In-depth research has demonstrated that those departments that support their people to use their energising strengths experience up to 38% greater productivity [Harter et al 2002]
- Greater profitability. Teams that receive strengths feedback have 8.9% greater profitability [Gallup]. Why? Because employees who are being encouraged to play to their energising strengths are more attentive and vigilant, substantially more creative, mindful of the reputation of the organisation and the welfare of their colleagues, report lower absenteeism, have fewer accidents; and produce 41% fewer defects into their products and services. All of these factors significantly impact on profitability.
- Improved performance. In appraisal discussion, when leaders focus on their team members’ performance strengths they effect a 36% improvement in performance. When leaders focus on their team members performance weaknesses they contribute to a 26.8% worsening in performance [Corporate Leadership Council 2002]. Let’s just run that one again because it’s very important – focus on strengths = 36% improvement, focus on weaknesses = 26% worsening. Powerful stuff.
- Significantly greater staff engagement levels – part 1. Gallup has demonstrated time and time again that when people get to do what they do best every day, they’re 6 x more engaged than those that don’t. What’s “engaged”? HBR Leadership Consultant John Baldoni says engagement happens when, “people want to come to work, understand their job and know how their work contributes to the success of the organisation”. Who wouldn’t want ‘engaged employees’?…
- Significantly greater staff engagement levels – part 2. When an organisation focuses on strengths, employee engagement can increase from 9% to 73% [Rath and Conchie 2008]. Jim Harter, Chief Scientist at Gallup Research adds to this by quoting that a study of 1.4 million employees demonstrated that organisations with high employee engagement have 22% higher productivity.
- Greater customer loyalty. Departments supporting people to use their strengths have up to 44% higher customer loyalty [Harter et al 2002]. Anyone with even the faintest knowledge of marketing will know that greater customer loyalty leads to greater profitability as we focus our time and attention on delighting our current customers instead of attracting new ones.
- Greater return on training investment. Focusing on maximising strengths results in an average improvement of 48%, whereas focusing on improving weaknesses results in an average improvement of a meagre 6%. It seems – paradoxically – obvious that we should really invest our development time in mastering our energising strengths but where do most people spend their training budget? On addressing their pain, i.e. their weaknesses. Sometimes this is essential work, perhaps it’s something that’s critical to your role and at which you need to be “good enough”. Fine. Do it. But then move on to positively stretching your energising strengths, as that’s where the real ROI lies.
All of these elements have an impact on productivity. Knowing your strengths and deploying them intelligently is a proven way of significantly and sustainably improving productivity. Yours, your team’s and your organisation’s.
- Do you know your strengths?
- Do you know your teams strengths?
- Are you deploying them intelligently?
If you’re unsure what they are or how to deploy them intelligently, contact us. We make it our business.