• 11 Mar 2022 7:45 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Many businesses (too many) concentrate on efficiency at the expense of customer service.  We have all waited too long on a customer service call or had difficulty talking to a person we want to rectify a problem.

    If we mess with our customers, they may not return.  And they will make negative comments to their friends - and to the wider world on social media.

    You have to do the right things before doing them right.  Concentrate on quality AND efficiency.

  • 03 Mar 2022 4:56 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Platforms for digital communication and collaboration (everything from e-mail through Google Docs to Zoom and Teams) can be very useful.  

    The problem is that when organisations use several of these, individuals can lose focus and productivity.

    They find they can’t find messages or files because they can’t remember on which platform they originated.  They end up asking colleagues to resend messages or files, making those people also less productive.

    Also, different platforms have different user interfaces, search methods and so on - making it difficult to remember how some parts of each application or platform work.

    To achieve higher productivity, multiple platforms must be integrated into a comprehensive, cohesive, and frictionless digital workplace.

  • 23 Feb 2022 4:01 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Those of us charged with improving productivity can sometime get anxious about our own, personal productivity.  Are we working hard enough? If so, why isn’t the productivity of the organisation higher?

    These are the wrong questions to ask.  Beating ourselves up is no way to a better future.

    We should ask:

    What have I done today?

    What have I achieved?

    What have I set in motion that will pay productivity benefits in the future?

    What have I done to further the organisation’s mission and vision?

    Its not about ‘how hard?’ (did I work) but ‘how effectively?’.  This applies to the rest of organisation.

    “How do I create more effective systems, processes, procedures, working methods, working practices?

    What have I done today to work towards that?”


  • 16 Feb 2022 10:26 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Productivity requires employees to be fully trained in all aspects of their work role, preferably  including being aware of the organisation’s declared mission snd overall strategy.

    The problem for the organisation is that training can be expensive - especially in terms of taking an employee away from the workplace.

    One standard answer is “If you think training is expensive, try ignorance and incompetence”.

    But another problem is that too many organisations  have failed to keep up with cultural and technological changes.

    Over the last 20 years we have created the ‘video generation’.  People expect to learn things on YouTube rather than in books.  They automatically choose a source with pictures - and preferably moving ones.

    Training is still, however, largely done verbally rather than visually.  Going visual, to many trainers, means adding the occasional graphic to their PowerPoint presentation.

    Not good enough.

    We all have the technology in our phones to take high quality video with sound. Video editing software is available for computers, tablets and even phones. So why aren’t trainers using more video - for workplace  snd even home-based training.

    They may not have the skills to create effective materials….. but if they can’t help themselves to develop the necessary skills, what on earth is their credibility as professional trainers?

    Physician - heal thyself!

  • 10 Feb 2022 7:24 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Many of us have computers at home. We may use them for work-rerated tasks (especially now more of us spend at least some working time at home) or for social/leisure purposes.

    We tend to use a small set of applications on a regular basis - a word processor, a spreadsheet app, email, messaging, task management, a calendar, and so on.

    We end up with lots of files on our computer (and perhaps additionally in  ‘the cloud’).

    Finding those files when we need them can sometimes be tricky - but finding all the files we need for further work on a complex project can be particularly tricky.

    The obvious solution - though one that many people do not practise - is, rather than allowing applications to store folders in their default folder - to create folders relating to a particular task, topic or project.  This takes a little effort at the time  but saves so much time subsequently.  You can , if you wish, use sub-folders to separate files of different types or different sub-topics.

    An alternative, if your computer supports it, is to ‘tag’ files with the name of the task, topic or project.

    You can then identify and recall all files for your further work on, or updating of, a project.

    i am sorry if many of you have found this tip too simple and obvious but I asm sure some readers will have found it useful.  I don’t think I should ever really apologise for simplicity.

  • 02 Feb 2022 7:17 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    If you are doing some DIY work at home, say building a new cupboard, you might perform badly when compared to a professional joiner building the same cupboard. He is likely to build a higher quality cupboard and to build it faster.   His productivity is obviously greater.

    Why does he outperform you?

    Probably for two main reasons. He is likely to have a better set of tools and equipment in his professional toolbag than you do in your home toolbox.

    Secondly, he will have been better trained and will have honed his skills through his experience as s professional joiner.  

    This is a general lesson.

    In companies, employees will perform better if they have the right tools and equipment, and the right skills.

    So, regularly review your technology deployment to make sure it is appropriate and ‘up to the job’, and that it is part of an effective processing system.

    Then review your processes for skills diagnosis and development.  Do you have the skills you need to operate that technology effectively?  How are those skills likely to change over the next few years?  What must you do to ensure your employees acquire/develop those new or changed skills?

    Skills empower employees to deliver better work and to take greater pride in their work.

    So, this is a truly win-win situation. You get higher productivity; your employees get greater job satisfaction.

  • 26 Jan 2022 7:23 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Focus! Focus! Focus!  That’s the advice we are given. If we focus, we can perform, we can achieve.

    But as with all such exhortations, such simplistic advice, such trite sayings, there is another side to examine.

    Those who don;t focus all the time, who don’t keep their mind fixed on the way ahead, on the goal, are the ones that will have the sideways thought, the idea of a new direction, the innovative idea, the recognition of new ways of doing things.

    Innovation does not arise from rigid thinking, from doing what we’ve always done but working harder at it, concentrating more.  We need new inputs to create new insights, new stimuli to create new ideas.

    So, by all means, consider the goal and the direction of travel. But for some periods at least, allow your mind to wander down new paths, to explore things so far unexplored.

    A single focus can be limiting.

  • 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. 

Contact us

Address: 3rd Floor, Telegraph House,  80 Cleethorpe Road, Grimsby, DN31 3EF 

Phone:    +44 1472 358195

Email:     Info@instituteofproductivity.com

                     Privacy Policy

Powered by Wild Apricot. Try our all-in-one platform for easy membership management