Guest post by Greg Stewart
Why does productivity fluctuate among employees? If we take out the anomalies such as extenuating life circumstances, we can still see that an employee’s productivity changes.
The May 2004 edition of Harvard Business Review featured an article on how it is risky to hire stars from other companies. They advised that we are better off growing our own stars rather than headhunting them from our competitors. Why would that be?
There, of course, are several reasons, but what is the recurring theme? It is culture, organizational culture. None of us perform in a vacuum and we all can think through our jobs and reflect on the people we worked with and the company we worked for. We perform the best when the job matches us and the people and culture match us.
I am sitting here writing this blog and as I reflect on my own work, I am aware that there are aspects of the job itself that perfectly fit me. I can be independent, work at my own driven pace, and have the right amount of interpersonal interaction. What is required of me to be successful here is perfect because that is who I am. When we are successful, we become motivated in an exponential way.
In summary, productivity fluctuates because:
1. Employees don’t “get” the job.
They struggle really knowing it mentally in and out. They may know how to do the skills of a job at surface level, but struggle knowing how to maneuver around obstacles and see how their job fits within the overall structure of the organization, and more importantly, how to be “culture smart”. Employees who “get it” master the skills of a job to the point they not only can do it in their sleep, you watch them actually advance the job by finding new and creative ways to accomplish the job more effectively and efficiently. You know it when you see it, and you definitely know it when you don’t!
2. Employees honestly don’t understand what the job does for our society and culture.
We may not have outright thought about it, but at the core, improving people’s lives and our own lives is what drives us. We all work in some way to help people, to help society, to “make the world a better place.” To prove it, think through other jobs. How do you feel about them? You may not like the job because of what you would have to do or you may not like it because it really doesn’t interest you. It’s not that the job is bad, it’s just not . . . well, you. If employees can’t make that link, then the job becomes, well, just a job to pay the bills. When an employee sees the social responsibility side of their job, it’s almost as if they now have the “Iron Man” core, e.g. an energy source of purpose and calling. Again, you know it when you see it, you know it when you don’t.
3. Employees do not “love” the people they work with (overall).
Does the employee “fit” your team? Do they operate, think, and work like the rest of your team does? More importantly, how does the employee get along with their supervisor? The relationship with one’s supervisor is the number one factor in determining an employee’s job satisfaction and organizational commitment. If there are relational struggles between the employee and his or her supervisor, it doesn’t mean that it’s the employees fault. The supervisor may lack the competencies needed to effectively manage and lead people.
If all of those pieces fit, it’s a beautiful masterpiece. If all of those pieces fit for your employees, they will love their jobs. Emotions are high (in a good way), and as a result so is productivity. Great managers and leaders are “in-tune” with their teams and can assess how each of them is doing in the above principles.
What do you think? Why does productivity fluctuate among employees?