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Build Your Success with Productivity


A basic part of human nature yearns to achieve, to accomplish, to attain – to do better in the future than in the past. Through the ages, philosophers, poets, heads of state, commanding generals, businesspeople – leaders of all types – have tried to light the fires of enthusiasm and kindle the
flame of motivation to glimpse the heights they might reach, the happiness they might enjoy, and the depths of reward they might gain from using more of their potential.

The term, productivity, captures the essence of this human pursuit of becoming better and doing better. Productivity, in fact, has earned recognition as the key to personal and business progress, success, and survival.

What is Productivity?

Since improving productivity is vital in today’s competitive world, a clear understanding of the term productivity is essential. Productivity is defined by some from an economic standpoint. Others take a management viewpoint, while yet others look at productivity from other perspectives. A simple definition that applies to all businesses and individuals is that productivity is the measure of how efficiently goods and services are delivered. Productivity in a broad sense is concerned with the overall effectiveness of getting things done. In a narrower business sense, productivity is doing what it takes to make more money.

From a personal perspective, productivity enables you to earn your income. Overall, productivity means making more from your available resources; it means investing time in tasks, activities, or responsibilities that provide a high return to your organization and you. Productivity is determined by working on high payoff activities, and high payoff activities mean spending time doing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, and for the right length of time. When you spend your time on high payoff activities, you will be more productive. You will be working smarter, not harder!

A firm is doing its job when it increases the bottom line, not just operational efficiency. Regardless of your particular business, profession, or career – whether you make a product, sell a product, or provide a service – improving your productivity is the force that propels continuous improvement. Continuous improvement adds to your sense of personal accomplishment, professional success, and pride in
a job well done.

Identifiying and Using High Payoff Activities

The familiar 80/20 Pareto Principle operates in time use and personal productivity. Approximately 80 percent of the results you obtain stem from 20 percent of the tasks you perform. The other 80 percent of your tasks produce only 20 percent of the results obtained. It makes sense, then, to identify the most productive activities in your daily schedule and devote more time to these high payoff activities –
activities you perform that bring you closer to achievement of your goals. High payoff activities are specific to each individual, so giving examples is difficult. In other words, because different people in various businesses, organizations, or situations have different goals, their high payoff activities will be different. Simplify, delegate, or eliminate other low payoff routines and activities that absorb too much
of your time. This common-sense approach frees you for productive work on high priority items.

Benefiting from the Pareto Principle may require changing some patterns of behavior. And change may be perceived as risk. But remember, success is often built on a series of events all of which involve a certain degree of risk. One who never risks never achieves. One who lives by the principle that “It is better to be safe than sorry” is likely to be both unsafe and sorry, left behind by progress and regretting
opportunities missed. Risk, however, must be carefully assessed and planned. With deliberate use
of the Pareto Principle, eliminating activities can be worth the risk. Anticipating risk can even fuel your
enthusiasm and motivation to overcome and conquer.

Establishing a Base Line

Improving personal productivity is never an accident; it begins with precisely defining productivity in your particular situation. Only when you know what productivity means to your business, can you increase it. You can take deliberate, purposeful steps toward improving your productivity when you learn to measure it.

Base lines for productivity differ according to the business you are in; consequently you must be the one to formulate your base line and express it in terms most useful to you. Generalizations are helpful in gaining an overall understanding of productivity, but you must identify measurable factors specific to your situation.

Ray Stuchly is the CEO of Leadership Management Institute (LMI) Riverside. LMI is an internationally renowned leadership and development company. Ray has over 30 years of experience in helping leaders cultivate their own potential and tap their organizational potential. He has mentored professionals in the small, middle market as well as large corporations which gives him a depth and breadth of knowledge of the challenges companies face in today’s marketplace. Ray is one of 15 senior partners with Leadership Management Institute, USA. Contact Ray directly at: rstuchly@lmi-riverside.com.

Think and Act Wisely in Stressful Times


Since your responsibilities involve making decisions, maintaining productivity, and interpreting organizational policy, you may occasionally experience a wave of unpopularity. If you view these occasional disagreements as part of your position rather than as personal attacks, you maintain
professional, positive relationships with team members and enjoy personal satisfaction from doing your job well.

Controlling your emotions is easier when you remind yourself that you personally are not usually the cause of a team member’s anger. An angry employee is usually upset with an organizational decision, policy, or rule you are required to carry out. You are simply doing your job. Remember that because of your position it is your function to protect the interests of the organization – not to protect yourself from personal dislike. Adopting this rational attitude helps you to think and act in a calm, professional manner without adding the fuel of your own emotions to an already explosive situation. Reacting emotionally to
complaints may intensify and prolong the negative situation.

In discussing a complaint with a team member, even if emotions like anger or frustration come to the surface, limit your discussion to the issues and behaviors causing the problem. To keep from becoming
defensive when presenting your point of view, use “I” messages. “You” messages often come across as accusing and judgmental. For example, instead of saying, “You need to answer memos more promptly,” it is more effective to state, “I cannot make necessary decisions when you do not respond to memos promptly.” Or instead of, “You are not providing effective leadership for your team,” you might say, “I often see your team members idle when they do not know what you want.”

These “I” messages, as opposed to “you” messages, allow you to point out how an issue affects you, or they explain why the issue is important without attacking the person. When communicating about problems, also avoid judgmental words like should, could, ought, if only, and but. The word but negates whatever the other person is saying, and it conveys to the other person that you are not listening
with an open mind.

Addressing problems promptly, rather than procrastinating, is also crucial. One large, nationally-known firm reduced the number of written grievances by 95 percent by implementing a concentrated effort to solve problems where they occurred, at the time they occurred. Promptness in solving problems lowers the production cost of goods and services, improves an organization’s competitive position, and enhances customer satisfaction.

Team leaders who adopt a pattern of consistent, positive attitudes and behaviors reduce the confusion and frustration that often give rise to complaints among team members.

Here are a few practical guidelines:

> Treat all employees fairly – that is, make sure all team members receive the positive or negative consequences their performance merits. Being fair with employees does not mean always treating
people equally. People who make an outstanding contribution deserve extra rewards and recognition.
Enforcing rules is the only area in which every employee must be treated equally.

> Learn to say exactly what you mean. Don’t expect team members to guess or to read your mind.
Demonstrating what you want or giving verbal examples can be essential in training and communicating effectively.

> Deal with specific behavior – not just attitudes. Identify the specific behavior you want team members to develop, train for that behavior, and reinforce it with positive feedback.

> When you receive two different stories about a situation, get the two people together and ask them to tell you about it.

> Coach for improvement. Describe behavior you want, not what you do not want.

> When you give instructions, expect team members to follow them.

Prevention is the most productive strategy to handle problems with people; but no matter how successful you are in establishing good relationships with your team members, you will occasionally face differences of opinion and other unavoidable interpersonal issues.

Ray Stuchly is the CEO of Leadership Management Institute (LMI) Riverside. LMI is an internationally renowned leadership and development company. Ray has over 30 years of experience in helping leaders cultivate their own potential and tap their organizational potential. He has mentored professionals in the small, middle market as well as large corporations which gives him a depth and breadth of knowledge of the challenges companies face in today’s marketplace. Ray is one of 15 senior partners with Leadership Management Institute, USA. Contact Ray directly at: rstuchly@lmi-riverside.com.