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  • 30 Nov 2022 7:55 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    The UK is successful in many areas- it has a large, successful renewable energy sector, a whopping great financial services sector and a large tech startup sector.  Yet UK productivity does not reflect these advantages.

    Skills seem to hold back UK industry - many firms are finding it impossible to recruit the skilled or experienced workers they need.

    This ends in a bidding war for the available talent - and this reduces productivity by putting up costs.

    Traditionally, if labour is expensive or scarce - or both - firms have used technology to fill the gaps.

    This might be what they have to do now - to meet the current skills shortage.

    They should investigate where technology solutions can transform processes .and where it can help improve the information flows that will enable the executive team to better manage those processes.

    All of that will only work, however, if the firms have the necessary skills and expertise to manage the resulting transformation projects.  Technology can unlock growth and improve productivity.  But it can place a noose around the neck of the organisation if technology solutions are badly designed or poorly implemented.

  • 23 Nov 2022 8:01 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    We have known for many years that some of us are larks and some of us are owls.  Well, this simple categorisation has behttps://thesleepdoctor.com/sleep-quizzes/chronotype-quiz/.en confirmed by experts (2007 study published in Personality and Individual Differences) who suggest there are actually four of these states - called chronotypes.

    There are evidently four chronotypes: Lions, dolphins, wolves and bears. 

    Lions wake up early with lots of energy, while wolves are most energetic in the evenings. Dolphins are light sleepers who are often diagnosed with insomnia and bears need a full eight hours of sleep every night.

    The significance of this s that each of us should establish a work-rest pattern and schedule which matches our own particular chronotype.  We need to work with the natural rhythms of our body, not fight against them.

    Your chronotype can have an impact on your personality, sleep behaviour and general health …. And, of course, on your productivity.

    You can take a quiz to establish your chronotype at https://thesleepdoctor.com/sleep-quizzes/chronotype-quiz/.

  • 16 Nov 2022 7:52 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Many people have been working from home during the pandemic. In fact many of them are still working from home for at least part of their working week.

    For most of these people, this has been great for their work-life balance.  They have been better able to balance the demands of their work with other responsibilities - family, childcare and so on.

    Work-life balance has been a ‘hot topic’ for a number of years. Some industries became ‘toxic’ and made unreasonable demands on staff, expecting attendance (real or virtual) over extended hours.  This was made worse by the availability of technologies which kept people in contact with the workplace over (and beyond) those extended hours.

    The problem is that the working-from-home aspect of the pandemic has tipped the work-life balance too far away from work.  We hear rumours of lots of people ‘quiet quitting’ - working the minimum they can get away - very low productivity.

    So, firms now have the tricky problem of moving the pivot back towards work without antagonising staff to the point where the quiet quitting becomes much louder.

    The balance might not move back into the toxic zone but it needs to move back into the productivity zone! 

  • 09 Nov 2022 7:33 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Can we raise productivity by doing less?

    Well, if that lesser activity has a greater impact, then Yes, We Can.

    You need to shift the mindset of your managers to concentrate on key results and key impacts, rather than counting units or activities or hours worked.

    Focus on these impact activities and you start to moves the needle into the ‘golden zone’, that vertical thread that connects mission and vision, through objectives, through key performance indicators to actions and activities.  If that thread is broken, you are wasting resources.

    Get your staff focused on key results and you should move the needle back to where it should be - where it has the most impact on productivity.

    A popular (and iconic) example of this involved President Kennedy’s visit to the NASA Space Centre in the early 1960’s...... 

    During the visit, President John F. Kennedy noticed a janitor carrying a broom. He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man and said ‘Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?’ 

    ‘Well, Mr. President’, the janitor responded, ‘I’m helping put a man on the moon.’ 

    To the naked eye, this janitor was just cleaning the building, but in the more mythic, larger story unfolding around him, he was helping put a man on the moon. And the point is: No matter how large or small the role, employees are (or should be) contributing to the larger story unfolding within the business  - and to the ultimate mission.

    They, and you, should be concentrating on what really matters. 

  • 02 Nov 2022 7:35 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    If it aint broke, don’t fix it.

    That’s a useful slogan in some circumstances - but not in business.

    If you expect the status quo to deliver success, you are likely to be disappointed - or you are in some sort of niche situation or industry.

    If you aim to maintain the status quo, you are not improving.

    But your competitors might be.  

    While you relax in your confidence in the current situation, they come roaring past with new ideas, new products, new features, new processes - or any one of the myriad things that can give them an advantage over you.

    The status quo - and especially your complacency with it - is your enemy!

  • 26 Oct 2022 9:45 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Is productivity improvement a hard or soft skill?

    Is it better, for example, to consider and analyse hard performance data or approach improvement from a softer, behavioural stand point.

    This is definitely not an ‘either …. or’ scenario.  Hard and soft skills are complementary.

    When we change elements of a process, a system, a procedure or a specification, we fail unless the result is changed behaviour.

    Preferably we make our changes to processes, systems, etc within a changed culture where we expect contributions as to what to change and how to change to come, in part, from those whose behaviour we want to modify.

    Change is much more likely to be successful and sustainable when people do it to themselves (or at least contribute to it)  rather than having it imposed externally.

    So, if you want to appoint someone to lead change, make sure they have hard skills - so they can diagnose problems and opportunities for change, and soft skills - so they can generate and support the changed behaviours that lead to real improvement.

  • 21 Oct 2022 7:31 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    I have written a number of blog posts relating to working from home including ones that describe the  difference in view of effectiveness of WFH as perceived by employees and their managers.

    Managers who think staff working from home are not always productive sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to monitor what they think is productivity.

    They may monitor websites and apps visited by employees during work hours; they may monitor keystrokes; they may block certain sites; they may capture random screenshots.

    Of course, if employees know such surveillance is going on, they will find ways of working around it, and we have a form of ‘arms race’ as each outdoes the other. 

    None of it, of course, is productive.

    All this goes away if the managers start to concentrate on outputs, and outcomes, instead of inputs.

    Ask not, “What do we want our employees to do?” but “What do we want our employees to achieve?”

  • 12 Oct 2022 10:50 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    We know there is a disconnect between the views of employers and employees on the productivity of working from home. Employees are happier and believe they are more productive; their managers are not so sure.

    Now it seems, that some of those employees are indulging in what has been termed ‘productivity theatre’.  They make sure their mouse moves frequently - even if they are not working productively - in case their keystrokes are being monitored.

    They also attend online meetings which do not directly involve them so managers can spot their participation.

    However, this ‘presenteeism’ in not engagement - or not meaningful engagement anyway.  These people are wasting time and being non-productive by trying to show themselves as productive.

    This productivity gap needs to be filled.

  • 05 Oct 2022 8:03 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Lots of US sports articles talk about productivity of a team, or a quarterback or other star player. Of course, they don’t understand the meaning of ‘productivity’. What they are talking about is ‘performance’.

    The  two are linked but they are not synonymous. Productivity is a ratio of output to input whereas performance relates to output only.

    Does it matter if sports reporters use the wrong term?

    Well, in the greater scheme of things, not really.

    BUT …

    If the readers of such articles get to understand productivity as a measure of output and then see articles talking about national productivity they might make judgements on what they read based on their false concept. This could even influence their political thinking and then their voting pattern.

    So, that sports writer could be responsible for  a change of mayor, senator or, even,  president.

    Perhaps we should encourage US sports writers to understand productivity and write accordingly.

    Perhaps, also, we should encourage all citizens to understand productivity and act accordingly.   

    After all, it is productivity that’s determines their future wealth and well-being.

  • 29 Sep 2022 7:31 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    The UK has a new monarch and a new Prime minister- one avowedly committed to economic growth as the way to climb out off the abyss we are in.

    But, as yet, apart from the long-espoused commitment to tax cuts, we have seen little evidence of what will create that growth.

    Where is the infrastructure strategy?

    Where is the skills strategy?

    These are key responsibilities of government for a high performing, high productivity nation.

    As yet, we have heard a few platitudes, but no plans.

    I am available for an advisory role!

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