September 16, 2019
How to Motivate Employees: How Productive Is Your Team?
If your organization is facing productivity issues, it may not be a question of how to motivate employees. It could be strategic misalignment or a business case for learning and development. More than half of employees lack clarity around performance goals, according to Mercer. Before you add resources to a team, learn to identify the leaks in your productivity.
Understand the workLean management promotes the "Gemba walk"—the practice of observing employees at work. Actively listening to the people closest to the work can inform leadership what really happens at all levels of the organization. This practice can give eye-opening results about daily tasks that aren't listed in position descriptions and work that isn't adding value. Maybe employees are spending five hours a week on daily task reports that their supervisors rarely read. Observation and learning can resolve misalignment between employees, skills and tasks. Learning about organizational and team goals can focus employees. Supervisory staff can streamline workload assignments according to individual strengths with L&D insights.
Evaluate time estimatesAccording to the Project Management Institute, just 52% of organizational projects finish within time estimates. Inaccurate time estimates are the cause of 25% of failed initiatives. Employees may have a much different understanding of the scope of work than managers. Ask your employees how long tasks really take and use techniques like three-point estimates for accuracy. This is the average of the following three data points:
- Best case scenario
- Worst case scenario
- Average day estimate
Understand real job descriptionsCarter Cast of Kellogg School believes that taking on too much is a key cause of professional failure. In an interview with Quartz, he notes that people often have more responsibilities on paper than anyone can reasonably accomplish. When expectations are unclear, employees may be drowning. Even worse, employees may be spinning their wheels if they don't understand which tasks are strategically important. Ask your employees what they're really working on to understand true scope of responsibility.
Is the problem motivational or resourceful?Employee burnout and operational inefficiencies can appear the same at the top. Boardroom key performance indicators don't always show the employee's perspective. Before you add resources, understand the root cause of poor productivity. Is it burnout, operational inefficiency or a lack of clarity? A recent Gallup study found several key causes of workplace burnout:
- Unmanageable workload
- Lack of role clarity
- Lack of communication and manager support
- Unreasonable time pressure