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  • 18 May 2022 10:42 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    I read quite a lot of studies that suggest that remote working did not and does not, negatively impact productivity.


    However, I am sceptical.


    The studies are generally of 2 types.


    The first set are studies that essentially consist of questionnaires asking employees if they have been less productive whilst working from home.  Not surprisingly, they say ‘No’.


    The other set are ‘technical studies’ which purport to show that remote employees spend as much time on their computers, make as many keystrokes and so on.


    Neither of these measure outputs or achievements …. surely the only thing that really matter.


    So where you look at such studies, read them carefully to see what was measured.


  • 12 May 2022 11:37 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Many employees claim they spend too much time coordinating their activity with others instead of driving forward their primary activities.


    Working from home has made this worse.  Employees are forever on Zoom or Teams calls, talking about that they have done or what they are scheduled to do..  This means they are not carrying out their primary task.


    Coordination is essential, of course, but managers have to find ways of making it more effective and more efficient.  Meetings should be shorter and more focused, preferably using g pictorial representations of progress that can be easily assimilated. Similarly goals, and progress towards them should be easily communicated and assessed.  Wherever possible, coordination should be part of the primary task, rather than a second order activity superimposed on top. 


    This requires modified, not new, management skills and managerial processes.  Managers themselves need preparing for this new paradigm - one where communication between individual and teams automatically ensures coordination.


    Are you ready for this?


  • 04 May 2022 1:25 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    In the past, you measured how hard people were working by such things as noting who was at their desk or who spoke up in meetings, and who had extended breaks or too many days off sick.


    In these days of remote and hybrid working, you’ll have to find a new way. Those simple observations are  no longer possible;.


    They were not effective measures anyway. Highly productive employees probably spend less time completing their tasks than sub-standard workers.


    We need to measure achievements and accomplishments rather than hours worked.


    This means we have to have clear objectives and targets and measure completion or progress towards them.


    Make sure employees know what is expected of them this week or month.and let them know whether this is what you got from them.


    Work should be a series of journeys where employees know their destination of each, and know when they’ve reached it, not a relentless hamster wheel of repetition with no end in sight.


    Managers need to know their staff, their strengths and weaknesses. their level of motivation and commitment and the level of monitoring and intervention necessary.  This could be regarded as Management 2.0 but is just Management 1.0 done properly.


  • 04 May 2022 1:25 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    In the past, you measured how hard people were working by such things as noting who was at their desk or who spoke up in meetings, and who had extended breaks or too many days off sick.


    In these days of remote and hybrid working, you’ll have to find a new way. Those simple observations are  no longer possible;.


    They were not effective measures anyway. Highly productive employees probably spend less time completing their tasks than sub-standard workers.


    We need to measure achievements and accomplishments rather than hours worked.


    This means we have to have clear objectives and targets and measure completion or progress towards them.


    Make sure employees know what is expected of them this week or month.and let them know whether this is what you got from them.


    Work should be a series of journeys where employees know their destination of each, and know when they’ve reached it, not a relentless hamster wheel of repetition with no end in sight.


    Managers need to know their staff, their strengths and weaknesses. their level of motivation and commitment and the level of monitoring and intervention necessary.  This could be regarded as Management 2.0 but is just Management 1.0 done properly.


  • 27 Apr 2022 12:48 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Teamwork is essential in any organisation. Each team must have clear goals and targets and must be capable of working collaboratively to achieve them.


    Until a couple of years ago,. team building and team development followed well-established patterns based on a thorough understanding  of team building and associated problems.


    Then pandemic and the move to working from home changed much of this established thinking.  It is not clear how remote, technology-based teams develop, and whether their development needs are the same as physically co-located teams.


    We need more research sand a better understanding before we can be sure of how best to change our team development practises.


    In the meantime, don’t simply assume that current practises will work.  They might. … but they might not.


    Certainly the need for clear goals and targets is likely to remain.    The measurement of performance and contribution to those goals and targets may change but if this helps us develop measures that are more suitable for outputs and achievements rather than inputs, so much the better.

  • 20 Apr 2022 10:30 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    We hear quite a lot these days about work-life balance.  But how do you know your own balance is wrong?


    Well, burnout is man obvious sign. If you are exhausted, physically or mentally, you need to re-evaluate your priorities.


    But it is not always so obvious.


    Another possible sign is that your health is OK  but you’re just generally running slower than you used to.  This might be a symptom of age but it might also mean you need to build more rest into your schedule to make sure that when you are at work, you are fully engaged at high power.


    This also, of course, applies to your employees. If performance is inexplicably falling off, it might be the work has changed, motivation has changed for some reason, or they are just tired.  Talk to them. Find out - and do something about it (or help them do something about it).


  • 13 Apr 2022 10:46 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    For some time I was a member of the governing Council of a UK professional body.  We had regular meetings about the forward direction and strategy for the organisation, which at its peak had abut 25,000 members.  We Council members talked, pontificated, debated important issues.  As ever, on such bodies, everybody thought they should make some contribution to the debate or discussion, whether they had something relevant and important to say or not.  The discussions went on for quite a while until the chairman remembered his role and brought discussion to an end.

    The executive officer, who was the paid professional who would be responsible for implementing whatever was decided by the Council, then often had to utter the words, “So what do I do on Monday morning?” reminding Council members that grand strategy has to be translated into tactical steps and detailed action plans.


    It is a sentence I have never forgotten.  Try asking it after your next management meeting. Do you have a new target, a new responsibility, a new project?  If, as a result of the meeting, there is nothing different for you to do on Monday morning, what was the point of the meeting?


    Similarly, if you have a meeting with your staff, make sure they know what they have to do on  Monday morning as a result of the meeting.



  • 06 Apr 2022 10:35 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Some managers think they need to keep an eye on their staff, fearing that, if they don’t, those staff will nor give their maximum contribution. One of the problems is that the staff will know they are being watched and will lose motivation immediately, fearing they are not trusted to work to the best of their ability.


    Of course, managers need to be in control but they need to be more careful about why and how they do It.


    It  is the work that has to be controlled, not the workers.


    This is best done by comparing achievement and work completed to the planned schedule of work.  This is why we measure work and establish targets.  If those targets are set with the cooperation of the workforce and subsequent progress and achievement is also shared. the workforce will naturally seek to meet the agreed targets.


    Transparency of planning and visibility of progress is much more effective than direct oversight.

  • 31 Mar 2022 7:56 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    I talked last week about giving people decent work to do if you want them to be self-motivated.

    I stand by that but, of course, it’s not the complete solution.


    Many businesses overload key members of the workforce so that they burn out and either leave or go off sick.


    Thankfully, in the last few years we’ve have started to hear about concerns for employee wellbeing.


    Workers need to have a workload that is within their skill set and their capacity.  Of course they might have tight deadlines and challenging tasks to complete but these should not be relentless and all-consuming.


    Overloading employees leads to stress, burnout, and poor productivity.


    So, wellbeing is not a ‘nice to have’.  It is an essential factor in underpinning high productivity. You have to focus on engagement and wellbeing.


    So, give your employees decent work and then make sure they are fit and well enough to give of their best.


  • 23 Mar 2022 7:29 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    I have said may times in this blog that expecting higher productivity through exhortation is unlikely to be successful.


    Organisations or nations need systematic processes that address the causes of low productivity - and actions to reverse or eliminate those causes.


    In addition, though, employees need decent work to do … they need clear tasks which they understand and where they also understand the role of their tasks in the greater scheme of things… i.e. they should understand their role in fulfilling customer needs.  Without this knowledge, they are unlikely to be self-motivating.


    Of course they also need the skills to be able to carry out their role effectively.The organisation must make sure these skills are fully developed.


    If the organisation can also give employees some understanding of the drivers of high productivity, or the causes of low productivity, so much the better.  They can then be engaged as part of the productivity effort, discussing how their role can be improved - and helping investigate potential changes to working systems, processes and working methods that offer the potential for higher productivity.


    The organisation should also help them to set their own targets, secure in the knowledge that those targets are not sub-optimal, causing problems elsewhere.


    This is starting to sound complicated but it is actually quite simple.


    Give people decent work to do, give them the skills they need and involve them in potential improvements.  Make the changes with them, not to them.



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