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AMERICAN CITY BUSINESS JOURNALS – How to Unlock Employee Productivity

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Clearly defining and communicating expectations, providing support infrastructure are keys to getting the most from employees.

Savvy is the business leadership team that communicates an easily understood organization vision, defines employee expectations in terms of performance, and provides the support infrastructure to accomplish the organization’s goals.

These factors are key elements in positively influencing employee productivity according to Dr. Dawn Chandler, associate professor of management at Queens University’s McColl School of Business in Charlotte, NC.

“When I think about employee productivity I think about employees working constructively in a timely and efficient manner toward the organization’s goals,” said Chandler. “In essence this means getting a big bang for your buck.”

Chandler indicated research shows leaders often fall short when it comes to clearly defining and communicating expectations leading to inefficiencies in productive work.

“One study looked at managers’ expectations for their team members and how team members saw their own roles,” said Chandler. “The results found a disconnect between these two groups. Highlighted were findings that indicated management just doesn’t communicate enough or provide enough clarity on where work focus should be, what the group’s goals are, and how individual and group outcomes tied into the larger organization’s goals.”

Job satisfaction aligns with productivity

Small business owners are well served to keep employee motivation and job satisfaction high on the list of contributors leading to greater productivity. Chandler noted recent research citing three surprising findings. The study suggested a sense of purpose, the ability to exercise autonomy, and the ability to achieve mastery as important employee motivators. Compensation doesn’t typically rate highly as a motivator though it can be seen as a negative if it is not competitive.

“As motivators differ among individuals, it’s a good idea to work to understand what makes employees satisfied at work,” said Chandler, “And to the extent the organization can meet their employee goals and achieve the organization’s objectives, it is a win all around.”

While the notion of productivity gains may seem on the whole appealing, small business owners may well want to exercise caution in relation to how these gains are achieved and unintended consequences that may impact their profitability and more.

“Management should think of employee productivity in terms of managing an orchestra, paying mind to all the elements contributing to an outcome,” said Paul De Young, principal De Young Consulting in Los Angeles, CA. “Focusing exclusively on certain productivity elements, for example sales in a retail organization, may ignore other important business objectives like customer satisfaction, repeat business, or referrals.”
Holistic approach

De Young suggested measurement systems need to look at a broad spectrum of key business indicators and emphasize those accordingly.

“Management will see results in what is measured,” said De Young. “They want to make certain they take a holistic approach to avoid unintended consequences.”

Harvey Smith, president of Carolina Business Coach works with mid to senior level executives and entrepreneurs. He suggests leaders can get the most from themselves and their teams when everyone fully understands what success looks like and agrees on the processes needed to accomplish it.

“There are three stakeholders in every business relationship,” said Smith. “The boss, the employee and the business. All define success in perhaps slightly different ways. Leaders must both clearly communicate their vision and that of the business, but make certain they are aware of the needs of their employees and work to align those with the needs of the business.”

Leaders who excel at engaging their workforce will see returns in productivity. It’s no surprise that people who enjoy their jobs perform at a higher level than those who don’t.

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