Maximizing Employee Productivity

It is a sad reality that there are a lot of people who will work a little bit harder when they feel they are under the influence or control of someone else.

By Karin Lindner, founder of Karico Performance Solutions Karin

Why do you think some people believe that employees will be more productive when they are controlled?

Well, it is a sad reality that there are a lot of people who will work a little bit harder when they feel they are under the influence or control of someone else. However, you cannot possibly control people all day long and if you try to do that, it will only cause frustration and exhaustion for you because you won't see the expected results in the long run. There will always be enough opportunities for employees to slack off and do other things if their job doesn't have any real meaning or purpose for them and if they don't feel any connection to you and/or the organization.

Thinking back to my years in the corporate world, I know that I did many things during work hours that I probably shouldn't have been doing. I surfed the internet, I did things from my personal agenda, and many times I lacked drive and initiative.

Why? I was bored. I was not challenged enough and the majority of my managers were so busy with their own agendas that they simply didn't notice that I was capable of so much more. My brain grew stagnant and I started to lose interest in giving my best every single day. Seriously, I don't think I was an exception; I just happen to be very honest.

Just because we are physically at work, it doesn't necessarily mean that we are mentally there. Attendance does not equal productivity. Sometimes I get the feeling that when people "work" 10 -12 hour days it gives them a reason to convince themselves how productive they were.

From my personal experience, I know that working less is sometimes more. It's all about organizing and planning your day and accomplishing your tasks throughout the week to support your long-term goals.

So why do I think it is important to give people their independence on the job when they might misuse our trust? First of all, I really don't think that they will.

Secondly, I don't know too many managers who have a regular conversation with their employees about honesty, integrity, character, the expectation of certain behaviors, and the importance of having their 100 percent support. Most people don't know what the expectations of their managers are, and if they have the perception that management doesn't care, they start doing the bare minimum.

On the other hand, management seems to falsely assume that just because employees are getting paid, that they will automatically care enough to give it their all for their company's success.

Sorry to break the news to you, but that's not how it works.

It is about cultivating and inspiring people and not about controlling them. If you want to cultivate your team within your organization, you have to start changing your approach.

Management has to set their own standards high and be aware that they function as a role model to their followers. They have to keep in mind that their employees are observing their actions and reactions on a daily basis. To be a leader you have to earn the respect of your people, and this is only possible if you lead by example.

Most shop floor employees feel like second-class citizens and sadly to say, this is not just their perception. Even though many management teams try very hard to remove this barrier, their efforts don’t seem to be very successful in most cases. Why? The reason is simple. Their words do not align with their actions. I am convinced they have the best intentions but they simply don’t manage to follow through.

For example, if management’s vision is to remove the barrier of “us versus them” and decisions are made behind closed doors without communicating it to the people, people won’t feel included in the decision making process. Too often I have heard responses like, “But Karin, we can’t tell them everything. There are things that are none of their business.” And in return you expect an environment of trust? You tell me.

The communication style of many managers with the workforce reflects that workers are treated more like children than adults. Honestly, sometimes it seems that the workforce is perceived as just another tool to meet the bottom line requirements instead of human beings with feelings and emotions. If people are told what to do and not allowed to use their brain and give their input, how can this barrier ever be removed? In order to build a foundation of trust, absolutely everyone in the team, and that includes the boss, has to play by the same rules, having the big picture of the company in mind.

Walking through the plant, talking to people, being approachable, and not only listening but hearing what people have to say will make you one of them. Management by walking around is key if you want to be connected to the people and build trust.

Trust is the foundation of every relationship and team on a large or small scale. Trust works both ways, but management has to trust first in order to earn the trust and respect of their people.

Believe me, you don't have to "watch" your people; you only have to have a sincere interest in bringing out the best in them, such as:

•    Give them your trust and their independence
•    Have regular conversations with them
•    Treat them as adults and not like little children
•    Come from the mindset that you can learn from them
•    Let them take initiative and take their ideas to heart

If you put these simple suggestions into practice, you will start to awaken their spirit within.


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