I often speak on the topic of how important the environment that you find yourself in, has a direct correlation to productivity.

What can often be generated – without knowing it – is a negative defect environment.

Which means:

“Your environment has the lack of something for being complete and there are shortcomings or deficiencies to the optimal point of operation.”

Some managers that I have observed, generate these as part of their style (mostly without knowing it).

Here, I have put together a check list to provoke some thoughts on the type of environment you’re currently in and how you might transition from a negative to a positive one.

1. People are Scared to Make Decisions

This fear is mostly born out of consequences of actions.

People become scared to make decisions because they’re scared that if they get it wrong, it could spell a career ending injury. Consequently, they think: “If I don’t make the decision, then I can’t be made accountable for it”.

The decision-making cycle is then pushed to someone else. For instance:

a.    “This is above my pay grade…”

b.    “I will need to speak to so and so about that one…”

c.    “I will set up a working group to deal with this…” – thus diluting the responsibly.

In my view, it is more about empowering the key individuals to make decisions and equip them with the correct resources to do so.

If it turns out to be an incorrect or bad decision, it becomes the perfect opportunity to review the process with all stake holders involved and learn from it.

2. Conferences Without Action

I am sure we can all relate to sitting in a monthly business meeting and hearing the same point being raised again and again.

Meetings and communication on a regular basis is vital as long as they’re productive and include action items along with reporting time lines.

Getting people together to listen to someone beat their chest and ramble on, in my opinion, is financial sabotage in any organisation. To avoid this scenario being played out repeatedly, ask yourself this one question: “What is this meeting costing the business?”

If you calculate the hourly rate of the participants, you’ll quickly discover how their time can be better spent.

Including Agendasclarity and action items to meetings will prove to be the key to a massive shift in productivity.

3.  Structure before Strategy

Are you going through a restructure? Have you asked yourself why? Ever wondered why you do this every few years?

Generally, organisations that go through a process of restructure continually, can be due to the strategy never being fully advanced or thought through in the first place.

The number one reason many start-ups fail is, first building the team and thendeveloping the strategy around it. Designing the strategy first means that the team organisationally will be developed out of it and constantly built around what is needed moving forward.

Things to take into consideration when building the strategy first, is the market, sector, commercial reality, threats and the opportunities that are observed.

4.  That’s What We Have Always DONE!

This topic must be the number one killer of innovation and development of a positive and productive environment.

It’s very difficult to develop a team that meets what the future will present when we continue to have a foot in the way with “it was always done this way”.

I have found this to be again based mainly on fear. This time: Fear of Change.

Long term members of organisations can become reluctant to embrace changes based on what might happen to them.

Any type of instability can often cause the focus to be less about the team and more about the individual.

To get people in an organisation dedicated to their workplace, they need to know what they’re committing themselves to. That type of engagement will only come with sharing with them a clear and concise goal, regardless of the vision, mission and objective of the company.

Communication to the team on what the collective goal is and constantly managing everyone’s expectations, is a great way of getting them to look towards the future. This will further ensure your team welcoming and embracing the dynamics of evolving and doing things differently.

5.  How Productivity is Measured

Many studies suggest that the best way to measure productivity is to do it industry by industry.

In my opinion, this approach can offer a false reading though. Because all people (including your employees) want to work less and get paid more.  It’s the simplest, unspoken rule of life and work. “If allowed to be – we will all be lazy”, and if anybody tells you that it’s not true, they are lying to you.

So, having any type of conversation with your team about productivity measurement can often prove to not being the smartest thing to do. Most employees will suggest what suits them best individually which can lead to a collective group consensus that –  less is best!

Measuring productivity by industry can make more sense, as you will have a non-subjective benchmark to base your targets and measurements on and do some type of comparisons. But this cannot always be the best solution for every occasion, scenario or project.

Every business is different in its own regard hosting different types of clients and teams that are also vastly unique in many ways in terms of their skills, backgrounds and personalities.

Similar things happen in the same industry with similar companies when they utilise similar types and amounts of inputs to produce a certain amount of output, in the same amount of time, and yet it’s never the same for each individual team.

The best you can achieve with this approach of measuring productivity, is a rough estimate, which can be useful later.

My recommendation is to rather individualise the workplace outcome measurements.

Each part of the company must have their own goals, objectives and targets combined with a personal approach and benchmarks.

Understand the strengths, weaknesses and requirements of the team and then set the bar high and continually strive to get them to achieve it. Then watch your team measure themselves against others and the industry benchmark, and most of all watch them start to smash targets through increased productivity.