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  • 20 Jan 2022 7:51 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Lowering working  hours may give a quick boost but is not sustainable.


    There have  been numerous reports lately of organisations cutting working  hours to increase  the engagement of employees, whilst paying the same salaries.  This is said to improve productivity.


    I am somewhat skeptical of such reports - and of the projects that  generate them.


    I am totally in favour of increasing  the engagement of employees but this has to be done in ways that are sustainable in the longer-term. We have to raise and then maintain engagement.  


    This normally means changing the nature of the work and of working, and supervisory, relationships.


    Just giving the same  money for fewer working hours may give a short-term boost but is not sustainable.  Remember the Hawthorne effect? (If you don’t, Google it.)


    Of course, I could be proved wrong but I doubt it.


    Think more carefully about what you expect people to do, how you engage with them and how you supervise and control them.


    There are few productivity quick fixes.  


  • 12 Jan 2022 3:25 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Story-telling is becoming recognised as a very effective means of communication. People react better to an interesting narrative than to a boring set of facts or exhortations.


    So, telling people your vision, and what you expect them to do to support it, is largely a waste of time.  


    But tell them a story set in the future of your organisation, which includes their future, and your can interest, inspire and motivate them to help you create the vision outlined in, and by, the story. 


  • 05 Jan 2022 8:01 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    If we give our staff a list of objectives to meet or tasks to complete, they will generally do so. After all, most come to work to do a good job and to please their employer.


    If we give them lots of tasks to do, they will need to prioritise.  Their priorities will not necessarily be the same as ours.


    There will be a tendency for them to complete all the quick, short duration tasks as this will make their completed lists look longer.  Unfortunately, this probably means they leave very important, longer-duration tasks at the back of the queue.  


    If not careful, you will hamper long-term success for a few quick wins.


    Prioritisation is too important to leave to them. You must share with them what you believe is really important (and preferably WHY) and what, for example, may be urgent but trivial.


    You need to MANAGE; you can’t leave it to them. 


  • 29 Dec 2021 4:11 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    That headline does not mean we should stop making plans.  Those who don’t plan, don’t succeed.

    It means that we must recognise that a post-pandemic world causes us to rethink some of the old certainties.  The Omicron variant of the virus is resulting in many more people catching the virus, though, luckily, generally with less severe results.


    It does mean, however, that some workforces are decimated by those off with the virus, or self-quarantining because they have been in contact with someone with the virus. The number of people absent from work can change dramatically from day to day.


    Firms have to recognise this and be prepared to adjust plans and schedules at short notice.  In some industries, where a number of job roles may be directly inter-connected, this makes life very difficult.


    But, for now at least, this is ‘the new normal’.


    We should be grateful that the effects of the Omicron virus are less severe but be prepared to deal with whatever it throws at us.


    Those who have effective business continuity plans and can demonstrate resilience will, rightly, emerge from the tunnel with greater success.  If we don't build resilience into our systems and our staffing policies, we end up relying on the resilience of our individual staff; this is not fair on them and no recipe for longer-term success.



  • 22 Dec 2021 7:21 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    When undertaking productivity assignments in some countries, it is surprising to find out how far performance and productivity is from that of the best performing countries snd organisations.


    This in spite of the data that is available on the web, in specialists journals and even in general news.


    One of the benefits of benchmarking is it shows ‘the art of the possible’.


    If you can show organisation A that organisation X, in the same sector and of the same size, is performing much better, it is impossible for organisation A to say ‘it can’t be done’.  You have shown them it can be done.


    So governments should establish some from of international benchmarking to show what their industry should be aspiring to - and then organise benchmarking internally in priority sectors to show lower performing organisations what they should be targeting.


    It’s not rocket science, is it?


  • 22 Dec 2021 7:21 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    When undertaking productivity assignments in some countries, it is surprising to find out how far performance and productivity is from that of the best performing countries snd organisations.


    This in spite of the data that is available on the web, in specialists journals and even in general news.


    One of the benefits of benchmarking is it shows ‘the art of the possible’.


    If you can show organisation A that organisation X, in the same sector and of the same size, is performing much better, it is impossible for organisation A to say ‘it can’t be done’.  You have shown them it can be done.


    So governments should establish some from of international benchmarking to show what their industry should be aspiring to - and then organise benchmarking internally in priority sectors to show lower performing organisations what they should be targeting.


    It’s not rocket science, is it?


  • 15 Dec 2021 7:27 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Do you know the real underlying causes of downtime and reasons for employee inactivity?  


    Are you able to act on these causes in time to negate their effects?



    If ‘yes’ to both, you have clearly got your solution and you are on the way to higher productivity.


    If ‘No/‘Yes;, either you’re a liar or you’ve been very lucky.


    If ‘Ye’/‘No’ you are half way there.  You have done the hard bit - understanding the problem.  Now you can work towards a solution.


    If ‘No’ to both, you are in trouble. You need to uncover the real, root causes of downtime before you can fix the problem.  This is more than measurement. It takes subsequent analysis and thought.


    But remember, it is very difficult to solve a problem that you don’t know about. 


  • 10 Dec 2021 8:18 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Managers who hear their employees laughing may be angry at the lack of discipline, art the lack of concentration, at the lack of serious effort.


    Yet, laughter serves a variety of purposes in a work situation.


    It is a good de-stresser, reducing anxiety , worry and tension.


    It serves to bring people together, helping team bonding.


    It helps create a relaxed atmosphere in  which innovation is more likely to thrive.


    It acts as a mindfulness agent, anchoring people in the present in the moment.


    Sp, find ways to make your staff laugh, not all day of course, but for odd moments when the laughter can do its job, cementing your team around the task in hand but relieving any pressure they feel.


  • 02 Dec 2021 11:45 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    When we diet, we usually start with great enthusiasm and we probably have some initial success. We buy new foods and ingredients, try new recipes. We might go to gather gym more often band try out new exercises.


    However, this enthusiasm soon fades and we start to ease up on the diet, the exercise regime starts to get boring and we don’t look forward to the new recipes and new foods.  What started off as being different and exciting is now the everyday, the commonplace.


    We still want to reach our target weight (or size) but find it difficult to maintain the motivation and momentum. to keep the image of ‘the new me’ firmly in our sights.


    Well, productivity is like that.  We often introduce new techniques, new approaches, new consultants and we get excited with the i results.  But then, like diet, maintaining the regime gets boring.


    We need the vision of the new organisation to create an emotional response that can  fuel continuing effort.  The preferred future must be a strong vision snd must be communicated to, and shared by, all in the organisation.  This is what leadership is all about…. ensuring that everyone understands where the organisation is going and what it takes to get there. A shared vision based on shared values will help maintain momentum.


  • 26 Nov 2021 7:46 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Many of us beat ourselves up at the end of the day because we haven’t been able to complete our ToDo list - which just gets longer and longer.

    However instead of bemoaning what we didn’t do, we should recognise and celebrate what we did.  What have been our achievements today? What good things have we done?  What bad things have we stopped happening?


    There might be times and tasks where we need completion and perfection. - but they tend to be few and far between. For most, celebrate progress made.


    Ask yourself, “What three things have I done today that I am proud of? 


    If you change to positivity, you will feel better about yourself - and, ironically, will probably get more done!


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