Three top tips to secure productivity improvements
Why matching leadership training to actual business needs is central to boosting UK productivity
Solving the ‘productivity puzzle’ is one of the toughest challenges facing British businesses today. While many businesses have significant budgets for management training, more often than not the training selected doesn’t focus on the aspects of leadership that can have the greatest impact on productivity.
In my experience a lot of training focuses on what to do – with lots of theories and models – but not on HOW to do it (which is why those beautiful training manuals sit on the shelf, unopened, and nothing changes when those managers get back to work). Because…. They are ‘too busy’!
The truth is this. We all say ‘I don’t have time’ for the things that feel too difficult.
And it’s often easier to keep being busy (because then we don’t have to address our real fears – about getting it wrong, about not being good enough, about not knowing how to do something, about not being liked, about being ‘found out’… this list goes on!)
‘I’ll have that tricky performance conversation when I have more time’ (hoping the problem will go away…. Here’s a clue… it won’t!).
‘I’ll start to focus on strategy when things are less frantic’ (they are NEVER less frantic….).
‘I’ll have those development conversations with my team when I’ve worked through my inbox’ (Really? You’re a manager. Your job is to get things done through your people – not to spend all day on email).
The best leadership training gets below the surface of the business and helps to identify what’s really going on. Your leadership coaches or trainers need to ask the difficult questions … the ones you’ve probably been avoiding… and then help your managers to change their beliefs, their mindsets and the habitual behaviour that makes them unproductive.
One leader, Steve, had this belief: ‘I don’t do confrontation’.
So for the last six months he’d avoided dealing with conflict between two members of his team using that belief as an excuse. You can imagine how frustrated the rest of the team were and how much time was spent in meetings point-scoring, arguing and generally time wasting.
Steve identified where the belief came from; ‘re-framed it’ as another belief: ‘It’s my responsibility to manage my team’s performance and have honest conversations’ and then did some work to prepare for ‘the conversation’; practising his opening line, clarifying the outcome he wanted, getting feedback from his colleagues.
As a result, the whole team is more productive; the ‘elephant in the room’ has been dealt with and they’ve worked together to bring in a significant increase in revenue.
So if you are wondering where to start, here are three tips to boost your productivity straight away.
- Do something about your ‘energy vampires’ (like Steve did) – unfinished business or conflict with a colleague makes both of you less productive, as well as those around you. Find a way to have ‘that conversation’ and move on. Focus on ‘shaping the future’ rather than going back over old ground.
- Make your meetings more productive – if you’re not contributing or gaining anything of value – find a way to do both. Or stop going. And any meeting over two hours is too long.
- Stop multi-tasking. Research shows it lowers your IQ and makes you ineffective.
That’s the ‘WHAT.’ If you don’t know HOW – THAT is where your leadership training starts.
Lynn Scott Coaching Ltd
Lynn Scott has over fifteen years’ experience of providing bespoke, practical and game changing leadership development for senior leaders and teams in the corporate world. She is one of only 40 ICF Master Certified Coaches in the UK. She writes practical no BS leadership tips on her weekly blog Lead with Confidence. www.lynnscottcoaching.co.uk/blog