BLG Leadership Insights Ideas Leadership On the Edge Proactive Leaders

The Myth of Productivity: Is 8 the Magic Number?

It’s all about getting things done. If you can get those you lead to rally around your ideas then success isn’t that far away. But once you’ve reached a certain level of success it becomes imperative that you sustain the momentum you worked so hard to build.  One way to sustain momentum is to make sure that you keep your employees motivated–motivated to continue the high level of work that got everyone to the top of the mountain in the first place.

Entrepreneur magazine’s Tony Bradley recently wrote an article entitled Telecommuting Is Good for Employees and Employers. In the piece, Bradley makes the point that, despite what we’ve been taught for years, allowing workers to break out of the normal 9-5 grind will actually help maximize their time. He argues that forcing those you lead to sit in a cubicle for 8 hours a day doesn’t guarantee that more work will get done.  In fact it does  just the opposite. There is no incentive to work faster if the only reward is more work and more time sitting around.

The idea that telecommuting is more than just people sitting in their bathrobes watching game shows instead of working is a perfect example of how leaders have to burst The Myth of Productivity. There is no generally agreed upon norm for productivity. Working eight hours-a-day in a sterile, fluorescent lit, cubicle is the result of nothing more than a law to keep unscrupulous bosses from forcing people to work fifteen hours a day in a dangerous and poorly ventilated mine shaft. There is no science behind the number. It’s not some perfectly worked out equation that guarantees success. Yet we still hang on to it like Moses brought it down from Mt. Sinai.

The key here is to understand that you must be able to adapt your criteria for success and productivity.  The bottom line is that you want to get things done. But everything that comes before that final goal must be flexible and adaptable in the face of change. Setting understandable and clear criteria for your employees is an ongoing and continual process. You might have been told that forcing your employees to work a certain number of hours in a certain place is a must, but it is just not so. Don’t be afraid to shape, mold, and transform your criteria as your initiatives and ideas change.

Picture credit: Legozilla