Ann Francke’s top 3 productivity tips for managers

03 December 2015 -


Poor productivity is costing the UK economy £19 billion per year; find out how to make sure you are not part of the problem

Ann Francke

Recently I dined out with my daughter and her newly working friends. One of them complained that, he felt, everyone in his office gave about 40% of their potential with the result that they didn’t get a lot done.

The rest of the group agreed – we all have a tendency to slack off in the office. This figure echoes our own, oft-quoted stat that more than 40% of line managers are ineffective.

The result of this slacking off and ineffectiveness is lower productivity. Indeed, CMI’s work with the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills in 2012/13 showed that this costs the UK economy more than £19 billion per year in lost working hours.

Sadly, everyone thinks productivity is some macroeconomic force that has nothing to do with them. Oh no, it’s about systemic differentiators in the availability of finance, in immigration, in regulation... Balderdash! It’s time we accepted our individual accountability to help fix the productivity problem. Our data show that effective line management boosts productivity by up to 30%.

So the Autumn edition of Professional Manager is devoted to the many straightforward ways in which better line management can boost productivity.

For starters, here are three of the simplest techniques, all within your everyday reach:

Communicate clearly about expectations

Make sure everyone you manage understands clearly what you expect – and don’t expect – from them. Do they know how their work fits in with your organisation’s overall objectives? Do they know what ‘good’ looks like? And how you will evaluate their performance?

Give constructive, timely feedback – good and bad

A recent CMI survey found that UK workers would rather talk about relationship break-ups thanpoor work performance. That has to change. Difficult conversations about underperformance are doable, but need training. Shockingly, only one in five has had coaching on how to do this. Be clear. Describe the behaviour, not the person. Use specific examples. Ask how they could do things differently and better.

Focus on outcomes, not face time

Many of us are in service or knowledge jobs where constant office presence is no longer required. Allow your people to work flexibly whenever possible. Studies show that this results in happy, healthier, more productive employees, and that means better results for employers.

But there’s more. Check out our ‘Pro50’ cover feature to discover how some seriously productive companies maximise their resources and performance.

So, back to that dinner with my daughter’s mates. What kind of bad example are those organisations setting? Come on, let’s make productivity work at work.

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