For employees to thrive, they need to derive a sense of purpose from their work and have enough autonomy to express themselves as individuals.
At the same time, misguided productivity leads to wasted energy, so if your organizations’ systems aren’t set up well your employees could be spinning their wheels.
So how do you sync up organizational and individual productivity so that everyone is on the same page and individual effort leads to collective progress?
That’s the question we’re going to tackle in this guide, as we explore the best ways to empower the individuals in your team and create systems that drive company-wide progress.
The Rise of Individual Productivity
Many studies have shown the increase in productivity many employees have enjoyed since they started working from home. During the past few years, productivity has seen a gradual increase as the output per hour of employees skyrocketed.
What does this mean?
In short, that employees, when left to their own devices and asked to work in isolation, achieved greater output than when they worked in an office.
This drastic improvement in individual productivity is likely due to the following factors:
- Fewer workplace distractions
- An increase in autonomy regarding work schedules
- The lack of a commute allows for earlier starts
- Healthier work-life balance
This can only be a positive, surely?
You’d imagine an army of hyper-productive remote employees would only be a good thing for your company. Yet an increase in individual productivity doesn’t necessarily correlate to organizational productivity.
Furthermore, there are several reasons why the improvement in individual productivity must be considered in a broader context:
- There are few opportunities for mentorship
- The lack of socialization can lead to burnout and feelings of isolation
- Effective collaboration becomes more challenging
The Importance of Organizational Productivity
To create an environment of sustainable productivity, it’s wise to take a step back and view productivity through the lens of the organization. Sure, individuals will ultimately get you the results, but only if the systems in place support the right kind of productivity.
Think of each individual in your team as a rower.
Even if you have a team of eight strong rowers, if the coxswain (the person who guides the rowers) lacks direction or the rowers are uncoordinated, it’s all for nothing.
A team of average rowers with a competent coxswain at the helm and a system for rowing in sync are much more likely to cross the finish line first.
All this is to say that you need to set up the conditions for your team members to succeed, otherwise their individual effort may count for nothing.
How to Set up your Team for Success
So now that it’s clear why you can’t disregard either individual or organizational productivity, how do you reconcile them and pave the way for long-term progress?
With the right systems and tools, of course!
Here’s everything you need to know to create the conditions for collective success while also empowering every individual in your team to reach their potential:
Establish Clear Communication
It’s easy to say that poor communication is at fault for a lack of productivity, so we’ll spare you any further explanation and get straight to the crux of the issue.
“Work about work” is responsible for a lot of lost productivity.
The Asana Anatomy of Work report reveals the scourge on productivity that work about work can be, as it takes employees valuable time away from meaningful activities.
While you could cite many possible reasons that employees are consumed with trivial tasks, one of the most significant is app fatigue. With a constant stream of notifications and incoming messages, it’s easy to get burnt out and bogged down.
Set up time-saving communication channels.
You can free up team members’ time allowing them to reach higher levels of output by cutting down on apps that take up a lot of time and don’t offer much in return. With employee work tracking software like Insightful you can track specific app usage and make informed decisions as to what’s worth holding onto.
Insightful doubles up as a centralized productivity dashboard, too, as when you monitor employees you can view output and idle time in the real-time insights tab.
In a virtual work environment, the increase in individual productivity might not translate to more effective collaboration. If you don’t have the right systems in place that encourage harmonious teamwork, then all you have is a team of individuals rather than a group with a shared direction.
Whether you’ve already returned to the office or you’ve embraced the virtual work environment, project management software is an excellent way to systematize productivity.
The right project management platform can help you harness individual productivity and direct it towards a shared goal.
For example, if you have a joint project that requires input from several team members, Kanban board task management can speed up collaboration as each member can easily pass the baton along with any relevant notes or feedback.
An employee tracker can help you measure the success of your initiatives. In the process of monitoring computer activity, you can see in real time what your employees are working on which can help you set up effective workflows for collaboration.
Instill Prioritization as a Value
Prioritization is key if you want to turn individual productivity into meaningful collective progress.
Because if each team member sees different tasks as more valuable, then this can throw off your collective workflow and leave important tasks sitting in the tray.
The Eisenhower matrix is one of the best illustrations of how to prioritize workloads. If you can get your team on board with the value they should assign to individual tasks then you’re much more likely to create a well-oiled machine.
In the Eisenhower matrix, you have the following four categories for tasks:
- Important but not urgent
- Urgent but not important
A common issue with prioritization is that in many company cultures, there’s an emphasis on urgency. If there’s a deadline approaching, it can create anxiety, which can spread throughout a team and cause each member to put up the blinders and focus only on urgent tasks.
The trouble with this approach is that it’s focused on the short-term. Urgent tasks aren’t always the most important tasks for making meaningful long-term progress, so by encouraging team members to categorize their tasks you can open their eyes to focus on the important tasks as well as the urgent ones.
Web app tracking can inform you as to where employees priorities lie. Web monitoring software like Insightful can show you what specific apps team members use on a day-to-day basis. If the pc monitoring software reveals that a lot of time is spent in Slack, then perhaps you could conclude that time could be better spent elsewhere.