Some organizations value productivity above all else. That mindset can be brutal, or it can be energizing and a source of satisfaction. The good news is that you control at least part of that equation.
How to know if your organization values productivity:
- Your productivity is tracked on a regular basis through performance reviews, weekly check-ins, or public status updates that compare your output to others
- You are rewarded for it! What is your bonus based on? Do you have Key Progress Indicators (i.e. KPIs) based on the amount of work you produce each year?
- Your coworkers regularly put their ear buds in and FOCUS on their work
Three tips for improving your individual productivity:
- Never guess what your boss wants to see – It is a common misconception that being more productive is about “doing more”… it is not. Being more productive is specifically about accomplishing more of the work that matters. This is where the 80/20 rule can be applied (read more here). At your next status meeting, get very very clear on your top priorities. Those are your focus. Too many priorities? Then you need to get equally clear about what is less important. If you feel a little awkward about that part of the conversation, try saying something like, “So if my goal is to get X to you by the end of the week, I will make X my top priority, and Y and Z will move down on my to-do list. Do you agree?”
- Pick someone to emulate – In most offices, there is a superstar producer. He or she is known for being able to crank out great work, on time, and on budget. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they have super powers… it just means that they know how to make the office environment work for them so that they can accomplish more. Identify who that person is and start observing them. Have they figured out that they need to give the creative team a quick email before they show up with a new project? Are they paying extra special attention to the less experienced developers to head off issues before they become problems? Are they blocking out several hours every morning for focused work? Make yourself a list and try to add one or two new best practices to your life each week. After a few months, your performance improvement should be both manageable and measurable. NOTE: A workaholic who puts in 70+hrs a week, has no social life, and is generally miserable to be around is not a superstar producer. Please remember that you want to pick up positive habits and avoid breeding burnout.
- Balance outside of work – Cultivating a “productive mindset” can benefit you across the board. You don’t need to do MORE housework, you need to do the RIGHT housework. Streamline, cut out the extraneous work, and focus on your top priorities. Ideally, you will get more done, while also having more time to recharge. And as we discussed in the last post, we know that our home life affects our work life. There are so many great books on this topic to give you ideas.
Working at an organization that values individual productivity above all else can be overwhelming, but if you can identify that and make small improvements to your own work habits, you can be more successful and gain more satisfaction from your work. Just remember to put your energy where it counts (hint: that is probably not organizing your email inbox). No one can do this for you… you have to do you.
Does improving your productivity help you to feel more engaged at work? Share your thoughts!