Productivity Vs. Punctuality

How do you get your employees to show up on time, work longer hours and skip lunch breaks?

Wrong question.

If you, like many managers and CEOS, are looking for ways to enforce or inspire your staff to show up to work and stay there in order to increase productivity, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Productivity is not measured by hours worked; productivity is measured by objectives achieved. So the right question is, what results do you expect from each of your employees?

I’ll bet you have a lot of work parameters for your staff. You may ask them to start work by 8:00 a.m., never leave before 5:00 p.m., require participation in all meetings, expect them to complete projects by specific dates and avoid taking time off during peak times. And you probably reward your staff, through promotions, bonuses and the proverbial pat on the back, when they meet or exceed their work parameters—stay late, complete projects ahead of schedule, or come in on a Saturday.

But just because your employees are clocking in and out according to your parameters, doesn’t mean they are being productive. Some people are at their best in the morning; some people are more efficient after the late, late show. Some people achieve better results when they work on site; some people do their best work at coffee shops.

Beyond basic work styles and rhythms, if your employees are distracted because they feel they should really be somewhere else—if they’re missing dinner with old friends or wishing they could meet their kids at the bus stop—they will be less productive.

Really, your employees know when they are at their best. You could be the most inspiring taskmaster on the planet, but until you let your employees figure out their own schedules, timelines and work environment, you’re not going to get the level of productivity you need to really grow your business.

Which brings us back to the essential question: what results do you expect from each of your employees? What are the metrics you need to make daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly? Then, break it down for each employee. What are the results you expect from your assistant? Your sales staff? The delivery guys, the greeters, the customer support team?

Your employees have one purpose: to help you grow your company. So what does it matter if they’re slumped over their desk, burning the midnight oil, if they didn’t land the client? Why do you care if they take two hours for lunch if they already met their revenue goals? What difference does it make if they work from home, if they achieve the projected cost reductions?

The only work parameter that matters is, are they meeting the objectives you’ve set for them in order to ensure company growth. So give them a goal and let them sort out how they go about achieving it. Otherwise, they’re just working for work’s sake, not for YOUR sake.

This new management style works. Studies show that companies who measure based on results have increased productivity, employee satisfaction and retention, and reduction in costs such as real estate (more virtual offices, less cubicle space).

Also, when you manage by objectives, your employees are able to focus on their natural talents, which makes them happy, and when your employees are happier, they work more effectively and stay put in their job, even when better opportunities come up.

And then there’s you—yes, using this model will make you more productive, too. When you’re focused on getting your employee’s butt in the chair, it’s easy to lose sight of your own company’s goals. But when instead you focus on the essential question—what results do I expect from my employees—you force yourself to think beyond coverage, beyond clocking in and clocking out, and come up with real objectives that will move your company forward.

So turn in your hall monitor badge, focus on results and give your employees the freedom and autonomy to do what they do best. A time card tells you nothing about your employee’s productivity, but you can’t argue with results.


1 thought on “Productivity Vs. Punctuality”

  1. The best manager I ever had told me what I needed to do and when it needed to be finished, then got the hell out of the way so I could do it. She made sure I had the resources I needed and was available to answer questions, but trusted me to do my work. She never monitored what time I got back from lunch or got upset if I had to leave half an hour early.

    In that job, I was extremely productive and very motivated, and I only rarely took long lunches or left early. I felt as if I worked with her to achieve the department’s goals, rather than working ‘for’ her.

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