By Phillip Weiss
A key question that leaders should always be asking themselves is, “How productive are my employees?” It’s an especially interesting question in these times when traditional leadership has transformed into virtual leadership. Necessary data here is tough, but not impossible to obtain. For this discussion, though, we have to go with observation and gut instinct.
From a recent survey we did with a client’s team, the responses on the topic of productivity varied.
On the positive side, observations included:
- People have easily adapted to the new working dynamic.
- Working has become more efficient.
- Weekly team Zoom meetings are effective.
On the downside,
- There’s a level of work inefficiency that’s been tough to overcome.
- People are working longer and more irregular hours.
Note that some of this ineffectiveness is attributed, by several, to the lack of in-person contact.
I strongly suggest that you explore these and additional considerations related to work productivity with your team. The conversation itself could stir some potent thinking and several high-impact recommendations.
Below are some initial questions you might consider through the lens of virtual leadership:
- How might the virtual reality be impacting my ability as a leader to effectively oversee work?
- How do I define “productivity” for any given role under my authority?”
- How do I assess productivity? Does the virtual dynamic make it easier or tougher to assess?
- If I sense lower productivity in an employee or a group, how would I go about addressing it?
- What systems dynamics might be in play that could be lowering productivity (i.e. unaddressed issues between different groups or several individuals, unclear roles or directives, lack of resources)? Don’t just look for the one culprit. The issue could be larger.
There are also the very real and practical challenges of childcare for some. With so many kids, of all ages, schooling from home it has put additional pressure on parents, especially if both are working. This calls for a unique patience and understanding from managers as parents work to cope with this.
So much to consider…
For now, I’ll leave you with several very practical recommendations from our survey:
“There are going to be some people in the organization that have a high level of anxiety during this time. We need to try to recognize it and help those folks a bit more right now to make sure they continue to develop and perform. Sometimes those folks won’t necessarily express that anxiety or reach out about it, so you need to be proactively communicating with them and give them the opportunity to vent a bit and relieve some of that anxiety.” Shaw
“I would say trust your people and try to listen to what they are indicating they need to ‘get the job done.’ Help them with that, and they will.” Aaron
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