Are You Productive or Busy?

Are You Productive or Busy?

What does productivity mean to you? 

What does productivity mean to your team?

What does productivity mean to your organization as a whole?

When I think of productivity, I think of results. 

When productivity is not defined, it isn’t easy to achieve. And then you have to consider the challenge that is often mistaken for productivity: Busyness.

Is It Busyness or Productivity?

Let’s look at this scenario:

You had a lengthy task list and checked off 30 things that needed to get done. You consider yourself productive for the day, checking each task off. But then realized that 15 of them weren’t done correctly and needed to be corrected.

So . . . were you productive or busy?

It can be easy to fill up our days with work. But is that the important work that needs to be done? This isn’t to say the other tasks don’t need completing, but productivity is often not prioritized, resulting in busyness and, eventually, fewer results.

There can be people who are “busy” but not productive and vice versa. Times have shifted to where productivity, while extremely important, doesn’t still look the same as in the past. Individual work styles can also contribute to a perception of productivity that may be misleading. 

A D-style worker may be more outspoken and fast in making decisions, but they may not have had all the necessary details to complete them correctly. A C-style may take more time but could also get stuck overthinking or overanalyzing a new project.

So while you’re defining and considering what productivity looks like, it’s essential to consider that it will look different for different work styles.

Training Tip: While core hours are important for a team, it’s also important to understand how your team members work best and where and when they are most productive. Some may be more productive on a flex schedule while others need the hours in the office. Get to know your team to understand their productivity patterns.

5 Ways Managers Can Support Productivity

Individual contribution versus team productivity can look very different. 

Apart from identifying what productivity looks like for your team and your role, understanding what your team is working on is just as important. 

Are they looking at the overall goal or just what’s in front of them? Is what’s in front of them going to get them to that overall goal, or is it just keeping them busy?

Understanding each team member’s role and what they are working on avoids duplication and busy work plus increases productivity with a team that’s on the same page and working toward the same goal.

Productivity will increase with your team when:

  • Productivity has been defined

This needs to be established first. What tasks need to be prioritized for your team members to reach your goals? Do they understand how much time they should be working on different tasks?

  • Roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and communicated

Don’t get caught with duplicated efforts. Defining the roles and responsibilities of each team member is vital to a thriving team. This also means understanding the work you’re assigning. If you don’t have a good grasp on the work needed to be done, you will have difficulty deciding who will be more effective to take it on.

  • Individuals get to play to their strengths

Each team member likely brings a unique set of strengths to the team. Some may work better under pressure, while others may be very detail-oriented and thorough. Understand the needs and align these with your team members for maximum productivity for each project or goal. Not sure what their unique strengths are? Consider an assessment like DiSC or even the PXT Select to understand their motivators, strengths, and more.

  • The goals are defined and communicated (same page)

You can’t work towards what you don’t know. Similar to their roles, the goals they are working towards need to be clearly communicated and understood to be on the same page. This also offers up opportunities for potential pitfalls or pleasant surprises, receiving perspective on the goals from other people.

  • Continued communication through one-on-ones 

As a manager, it’s your role to understand and support your team. This allows your team members a private time to share their needs and wants without fear of judgment from peers or worry of repercussion. If you’re not scheduling consistent one-on-ones with each team member, you’re missing out on incredible opportunities to increase productivity, loyalty, and results. 

In addition to the above, you also need to consider the resources and processes you have in place for their use. Are your employees constantly trying to chase down answers and wasting time, or is there a process to follow to allow for quick communication?

Apart from the skill set they bring to the team, the availability of resources, direction, and consistent communication will directly correlate to their productivity and your success as a manager.

“Productivity isn’t about being a workhorse. Keeping busy or burning the midnight oil . . . it’s more about priorities, planning, and fiercely protecting your time.” 

– Gary Keller

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